Many Bulgarians might be striken to find out, today's territory of Bulgaria and on the balkans is in practice one of the ancient inhabitant territories in Europe. Sofia or Serdika, Sredets as the old name of Sofia used to be part of Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire), then of pre-Christian Bulgaria, after Christianization of Bulgaria part of the Bulgarian Empire and then after the fall of Bulgaria under turkish yoke part of Ottoman's Turkish Empire. Maybe surprisingly for many Western Europeans the city of Sofia, happened to be one of the ancient cities important for Christianity as it had a Bishop standing and a strong Christian community since 3rd century A.D. Even until today Sofia has kept its city design which is made in a Roman fashion. Hope this little video unusually made by British will shed up some light to people interested in Ancient Christian history. Enjoy 🙂
Sofia Bulgaria, one of the most ancient cities in Europe – the History of Europe
Today on Second of May every year in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church calendar we commemorate the memory of Saint King Boris (Michael) who is a baptizer of Bulgarian nation and among the greatest saint of Bulgaria, perhaps second in saintship after St. John of Rila.
St. King Boris was the ruler of the First bulgarian Empire (852-889) the actual title as we know it from the chronicles is not king but archont which literally means ruler, but as the main chronicles who came to us are Byzantine we have to take in consideration that Byzantine Chronicles aimed to discredit the Bulgarian rulers because of feeling inferior every non-Byzantines who in Byzantine terms were considered barbarians.
He had a notable correspondence with Pope Nicolas II head of the Western Church before the Great Schism. Saint Boris I is famous with with 115 Questions (which are fully preserved). He beseech the pope to sent an apostoles of faith who will teach the new nation to faith in the same time he lead a correspondence with the Byzantine emperor and the Eastern Church.
The pope sent 2 missionaries cardinal Formiosa of Portuens and Bishop Paul of Papulon. King Boris requested for Cardinal Formiosa to become a future archibishop of Bulgaria, but the pope Nicolas II being afraid of loosing ground of a choice of future Bulgarian archibishop rejectedking Boris request it is interesting fact that the same cardinal Formiosa become the next Pope of the Roman Western Church in period (891 – 896).
Taking in consideration the papal's desire to dominate over him and the more freedoms given by the Byzantine Church along with the fact that Saint Cyril and Methodius's pupils came to him with a ready Church Slavonic Glagolic version of the Holy Bible and a new Church language (and considering the fact that the seven pupils of St. Cyril and Methodius were being chased away from Great Moravia (Saint Clement of Ohrid (Kliment Ohridski) and Naum Ohrdiski with Sava, Angelarius and Gorazd) and seeing the fallacy of the filioque addition to the Creed of Faith finally King Boris received baptism by the hands of Patriarch Photius.
He received holy baptismal in year 864, receiving the Christian name Michael (Mihail) receiving his Christian name from his godfather, Emperor Michael III.
According to Church tradition the reason to Baptize in Christian faith was his amazement of an icon of the Judgement Day he saw in one of his visits to Constantinople.
The Church tradition also says saint Boris I's sister have lived for a long time in Constantinople, where she received baptism and once returning to the Bulgaria she bring the light of faith here too.
During his holy reign he has established mass Christianization of Bulgaria, where the traditional ancient pagan traditions and belief in fake gods like Tangra were abolished completely.
St. Tsar Boris has secured the Bulgarian Church an autocephalousy, he also received the saints Cyril and Methodius, when they were banished from Great Moravia.
Our saint king has secured a refuge for st. Cyril and Methodius and provided them with assistance to develop the Slavonic alphabet and literature.
After he abdicated in 889, his eldest son and successor tried to restore the old pagan religion but was deposed by Boris I. During the Council of Preslav which followed that event, the Byzantine clergy was replaced with Bulgarian and the Greek language was replaced with Old Bulgarian as an official language of the Church and the state.
In 889 Boris abdicated the throne and became a monk. His son and successor Vladimir attempted a pagan reaction (to return the Bulgarians to the old belief in Tanra), which brought Boris out of his monastic life in 893 out of zeal for Christ and a fatherhood for the future of Bulgarian nation.
Vladimir was defeated and blinded by a miracle of God as Boris had less soldiers than his pagan son but in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ he showed victorious.
Once defeating his unbelieving son, Boris gathered the Council of Preslav in which the Old Greek language in Church was replaced with Church Slavonic and most imporantly on the council King Boris on the Church assembly placed his third son, Simeon I of Bulgaria on the throne, threatening him with the same fate if he too apostatized.
Simeon I was reluctant to become a secular ruler as according to some of the written sources he was preparing to become a great spiritual leader a monk and perhaps a next archibishop or even patriarch in the newly established autocephalous Bulgarian Church but following the monk rule of humility he decided and accepted the throne but throughout his life he kept his great zeal for monasticism and enlightenment. His ruling become a golden age for the Church Slavonic he financed seriously and worked hardly to prepare educated monks and to translate a major works of the Holy Fathers such as Shestodnev (The Six Days of Creation), Simeonov Sbornik (Simeon's Collection) and many of the key works of saint Athanasius the Great, Saint Basyl the Great, Saint John of Damascus etc.
Boris returned to his monastery, emerging once again in c. 895 to help Simeon fight the Magyars, who had invaded Bulgaria in alliance with the Byzantines. After the passing of this crisis, Boris resumed monastic life and led a holy life until he pass out in year 907.
Here is the daily troparion assigned by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church sang at the churches today (the text is translation from Bulgarian):
St. Boris-Michael, prince of Bulgaria, Troparion
Full of the fear of God, and enlightened by holy baptism, thou becamest a habitation of the Holy Spirit,
O right-believing King Boris; and having established the Orthodox Faith in the land of Bulgaria,
and set aside the scepter of kingship,
thou madest thine abode in the wil derness,
didst flourish in ascetic struggles, and found grace before the Lord.
And now, standing before the throne of the Most High, pray thou, that He grant unto us who entreat thee salva tion for our souls.
Everyone who reads a bit of history, knows Bulgarian nation used to be among the greatest European Nations. We are from the nations in Europe which exist since the ancient 861. Bulgaria is also among the nations which become Christian in the early 864 A.D. Why then now after all this years of Glory Bulgaria came up to the bad state it is now? Wasn't we a great country which gave birth to many nations, cultures and languages. It was Bulgaria which was among the main barriers who prevented muslim (Turkish Empire) invasion in Western Europe. It was Bulgaria which was the main spiritual center keeper of truthful Orthodox Christian faith. Most of the ancient texts in Church Slavonic as Russians calls old-Bulgarian Church manuscripts are created within the territory of ancient Bulgarian Empire. It is probably news for many Bulgarians, we Bulgarians had glory was taking territory about 1/6 of all Europe and were central spiritual and culture enlightenment center for 5 centuries. Our ancestors then suffered a lot, we were under a heavy yoke of Turkish which often mistreated us. We had countless number of Christian martyrs throughout the 5-th century of slavory under Ottoman Turkish. Our ancestors kept the Orthodox Christian faith for 5 centuries from 14 to 19 century unshakable. And now in this age most Bulgarians forgot about their source of power the Orthodox Faith in Christ. Our politicians become corrupted, because of their disbelief in God. Even our own Bulgarian brothers become corrupted because they forgot about Christ and his Holy Church. The Bulgarian Church today is in a terrible state, mostly filled with old people. Most of the priests are not missionaries and not shepherds. The 45 years of communism in 1944 to 1991 was another dark age after the 40 years of liberation. Then from 1991 till very now we're again in darkness and poorness, we suffer again. Being a Bulgarian is almost equal to being a sufferer. We need to raise and chase the people who lead the country to this darkness we're in. We're in European Union but it is very questionable if European Union helps us or just makes us poorer. Most people in Bulgaria can't pay their ordinary bills, there is almost no working social system. There is no opportunity for young initiative people. Even outside of our country, nomatter how brilliant a person is we're being mistreated. Now in big part of European Union Bulgarians are not allowed to work because, we don't belong to the Shengen Zone.We and our ancestors are great sufferers, we have been under a yoke longer than Jewish. Jewish people were under slavery of Romans 400 years, we Bulgarians were under a slavery 500 years! In 1st World War, we were among the looser countries, in 2nd World war we were among loosers and just around the end of the war we joined the winners. Most of time being a Bulgarian means just being a sufferer and looser. Now situation is even more terrible, as most gipsys who live outside of Bulgaria, say they're Bulgarian. So even among western countries, it is thought gipsys are Bulgarians …. Why this all happens Why? From a Nation of high power and great Kings and rich culture, we become poor and hated by all. Most of Bulgarians don't have money, now most of them don't have even big hearts and rich spirituality. We become both poor spiritually and physically. Why this all happens why? If you're Bulgarian outside of Bulgaria, do something help your country, don't leave your suffering brothers and sisters, don't live just for yourself, live for your neighbors and your nation, learn your history and culture share your food and goods with your neigbors. Don't be afraid to suffer, it is anyways our faith, at least let us suffer with dignity. Pray for Bulgaria, pray that Bulgaria heals. Why Lord you forgotten your previously beloved nation, raise up, raise up and revenge your enemies, help Bulgarians to Raise back to power and glory just like in ancient times. Chase away the evils and bad from our homeland, collect again our close Slavonic nations remember of their motherland Bulgaria and help it and unite with it! Let light again shine over Bulgaria! Let Bulgaria Rise! Rise Bulgaria Rise!
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