Locals of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, are familiar with the sight of 99-year-old Dobry Dobrev. Dressed in rags with a long, white beard, Dobrev looks like a beggar from another time. Dobrev is in fact a beggar—but he donates every cent that he collects.
Dobrev is something of a local fixture in Sofia, according to the “Saint Dobry” website devoted to him.
“Few Bulgarians have not heard of Good Old Dobry Dobrev,” the website claims, calling the man a “saint,” “an ascetic hermit” and “a divine stranger.”
According to the site, Dobrev, who lost most of his hearing during World War II, has spent the last several decades of his life collecting coins and donating them to churches and orphanages.
“He is not afraid of cold and bad weather, does not worry that he will remain hungry,” the site reads.
Dobrev lives off of his state pension of 80 euros a month, according to one blogger, while he has donated over 40,000 to charity.
Dobrev “has spent decades traveling 25 kilometers by foot every day for decades, decked in his homemade clothes and leather shoes, from his village to the city of Sofia, where he spends the day begging for money,” the blogger writes.
The white-haired mendicant has been known to pay the utility bills of orphanages and help restore falling-apart churches and monasteries. There’s even a film devoted to him: the 2000 documentary “Mite,” produced by the Bulgarian Christian organization the Pokrov Foundation.
As the Saint Dobry website points out, Dobrev resembles another well-loved bearded figure. But even “who does not believe in Santa Claus can believe in the good old man.”