ST. MARINA CAVE - SANCTUARY
It is located behind the former wire enclosures (border facility), very near the border with Turkish, deep in the recesses of Strandja, in the area of Likudi. It is about 12 km east of the village of Slivarovo. It is also accessible from the village of Kosti by jeep along the old dirt road along Rezovsko ridge.
Coordinates: 41°58’54.44” N, 27°44’52.22” E, 179 m above sea level
This cave is connected with a very ancient tradition – at the hole in its eastern part or by the icon people leave miniature models of madeof tin or silver images of the diseased organ or of an entire human body (votives). It was believed that the disease would transfer to and remain in the image in the cave.
The Day of the Saint (30 July old style, 17 July new style) was a big holiday for young men and women at the right age to get married, and this is why in Strandja it is called called "lefterski panagir."
The holiday of St. Marina was held at night. The pilgrims feasted and slept near the cave with the hope to be healed or to get a sign from the Saint in their sleep telling them what to do in order to alleviate their sufferings.
The holy places of St. Marina are complexes of a small monastery, a holy spring (ayazmo), a tree (or several trees), on which the worshippers hang a piece of thread, garment or a part of it with the belief that the disease has passed onto them, will destroy itself, and the person will go home completely healed. These sacred places are located outside the settlements, in low, dank places, most often in a cave or a deep ravine. Thus going to these sacred places is always a continuous descent.
It is a unique holy spring located in the eponymous cave – the water that drips from the cave walls is collected in containers placed on the floor and is believed to be holy water. The sanctuary was the largest religious center of the Saint in southeastern Thrace and in the past attracted worshipers from as far as Constantinople. People from villages near and far came here to worship and "wash" for a healing effect. In Strandja St. Marina is honored as the healer of childless women.
The cave is located in a dank, rocky ravine, overgrown with ivy. It is not the typical, deep, closed cave. It is rather a small, half open cave. The entrance is to the south and at the east end there is an opening for squeezing through, which is a serious challenge for believers, given its height and width. Access to it is slippery because of the water dripping down the walls. According to the legends on the holiday of St. Marina (panagiri) young men and women squeezed through here for good health. Married people did not do that.
After the construction of the border facility, the cave of St. Marina remained behind it and the Saint’s worshippers started visiting the eponymous holy spring in the village of Gramatikovo.
Besides Slivarovska cave, Stoilovska cave of St. Marina is also popular in Strandja.
In 2005 the pilgrims’ procession to the cave-sanctuary of St. Marina on July 30 (old style) was restored by the residents of the village of Slivarovo and their descendants.