Bulgarian Orthodox Church
Overview
 
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church - Bulgarian Patriarchate is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 with some 6.5 million members in the Republic of Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 and between 1.5 and 2.0 million members in a number of European countries, the Americas and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. The recognition of the autocephalous Bulgarian Patriarchate by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 927 AD makes the Bulgarian Orthodox Church the oldest autocephalous Slavic Orthodox
Slavic Orthodox
Slavic Orthodox Church or Slavonic Orthodox Church is an umbrella term for East Orthodox churches that use Church Slavonic in liturgy, the latter being of Byzantine Rite...

 Church in the world, which was added to the Pentarchy
Pentarchy
Pentarchy is a term in the history of Christianity for the idea of universal rule over all Christendom by the heads of five major episcopal sees, or patriarchates, of the Roman Empire: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem...

 of the original Patriarchates - those of Rome
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 (which became today's Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 after the Schism
East-West Schism
The East–West Schism of 1054, sometimes known as the Great Schism, formally divided the State church of the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively...

), Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem
Orthodox Church of Jerusalem
The Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem , also known as the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, is an autocephalous Orthodox Church within the wider communion of Orthodox Christianity. Headed by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, it is regarded by Orthodox Christians as the mother church of all of...

 - and the autocephalous Georgian Catholicosate.
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church considers itself an inseparable member of the one, holy, synodal and apostolic church and is organized as a self-governing body under the name of Patriarchate
Patriarchate
A patriarchate is the office or jurisdiction of a patriarch. A patriarch, as the term is used here, is either* one of the highest-ranking bishops in Eastern Orthodoxy, earlier, the five that were included in the Pentarchy: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, but now nine,...

.
Encyclopedia
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church - Bulgarian Patriarchate is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 with some 6.5 million members in the Republic of Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 and between 1.5 and 2.0 million members in a number of European countries, the Americas and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. The recognition of the autocephalous Bulgarian Patriarchate by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 927 AD makes the Bulgarian Orthodox Church the oldest autocephalous Slavic Orthodox
Slavic Orthodox
Slavic Orthodox Church or Slavonic Orthodox Church is an umbrella term for East Orthodox churches that use Church Slavonic in liturgy, the latter being of Byzantine Rite...

 Church in the world, which was added to the Pentarchy
Pentarchy
Pentarchy is a term in the history of Christianity for the idea of universal rule over all Christendom by the heads of five major episcopal sees, or patriarchates, of the Roman Empire: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem...

 of the original Patriarchates - those of Rome
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 (which became today's Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 after the Schism
East-West Schism
The East–West Schism of 1054, sometimes known as the Great Schism, formally divided the State church of the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively...

), Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem
Orthodox Church of Jerusalem
The Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem , also known as the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, is an autocephalous Orthodox Church within the wider communion of Orthodox Christianity. Headed by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, it is regarded by Orthodox Christians as the mother church of all of...

 - and the autocephalous Georgian Catholicosate.

Canonical status and organization

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church considers itself an inseparable member of the one, holy, synodal and apostolic church and is organized as a self-governing body under the name of Patriarchate
Patriarchate
A patriarchate is the office or jurisdiction of a patriarch. A patriarch, as the term is used here, is either* one of the highest-ranking bishops in Eastern Orthodoxy, earlier, the five that were included in the Pentarchy: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, but now nine,...

. It is divided into thirteen dioceses within the boundaries of the Republic of Bulgaria and has jurisdiction over additional two dioceses for Bulgarians in Western
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 and Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

, the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. The dioceses of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church are divided into 58 church counties, which, in turn, are subdivided into some 2,600 parishes.

The supreme clerical, judicial and administrative power for the whole domain of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is exercised by the Holy Synod
Holy Synod
In several of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches and Eastern Catholic Churches, the patriarch or head bishop is elected by a group of bishops called the Holy Synod...

, which includes the Patriarch
Patriarch of All Bulgaria
The Patriarch of All Bulgaria is the Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The Bulgarian patriarchate was re-established in 1953.-History:...

 and the diocesan prelates, who are called metropolitan
Metropolitan bishop
In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of a historical Roman province, ecclesiastical province, or regional capital.Before the establishment of...

s. Church life in the parishes is guided by the parish priests, numbering some 1,500. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church also has some 120 monasteries in Bulgaria, with about 2000 monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

s and nearly as many nun
Nun
A nun is a woman who has taken vows committing her to live a spiritual life. She may be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent...

s.

Eparchy

Eparchies in Bulgaria: (with Bulgarian
Bulgarian language
Bulgarian is an Indo-European language, a member of the Slavic linguistic group.Bulgarian, along with the closely related Macedonian language, demonstrates several linguistic characteristics that set it apart from all other Slavic languages such as the elimination of case declension, the...

 names in brackets)
  • Eparchy of Vidin
    Vidin
    Vidin is a port town on the southern bank of the Danube in northwestern Bulgaria. It is close to the borders with Serbia and Romania, and is also the administrative centre of Vidin Province, as well as of the Metropolitan of Vidin...

     
  • Eparchy of Vratsa
    Vratsa
    Vratsa is a city in northwestern Bulgaria, at the foothills of the Balkan Mountains. It is the administrative centre of the homonymous Vratsa Province. As of February 2011, the town has a population of 60,482 inhabitants....

     
  • Eparchy of Lovech
    Lovech
    Lovech is a town in north-central Bulgaria with a population of 36,296 as of February 2011. It is the administrative centre of the Lovech Province and of the subordinate Lovech Municipality. The town is located about 150 km northeast from the capital city of Sofia...

     
  • Eparchy of Veliko Tarnovo
    Veliko Tarnovo
    Veliko Tarnovo is a city in north central Bulgaria and the administrative centre of Veliko Tarnovo Province. Often referred to as the "City of the Tsars", Veliko Tarnovo is located on the Yantra River and is famous as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, attracting many tourists...

     
  • Eparchy of Dorostol
    Silistra
    Silistra is a port city of northeastern Bulgaria, lying on the southern bank of the lower Danube at the country's border with Romania. Silistra is the administrative centre of Silistra Province and one of the important cities of the historical region of Southern Dobrudzha...

      (with seat in Silistra
    Silistra
    Silistra is a port city of northeastern Bulgaria, lying on the southern bank of the lower Danube at the country's border with Romania. Silistra is the administrative centre of Silistra Province and one of the important cities of the historical region of Southern Dobrudzha...

    )
  • Eparchy of Varna
    Varna
    Varna is the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and third-largest in Bulgaria after Sofia and Plovdiv, with a population of 334,870 inhabitants according to Census 2011...

     and Veliki Preslav  (with seat in Varna)
  • Eparchy of Sliven
    Sliven
    Sliven is the eighth-largest city in Bulgaria and the administrative and industrial centre of Sliven Province and municipality. It is a relatively large town with 89,848 inhabitants, as of February 2011....

     
  • Eparchy of Stara Zagora
    Stara Zagora
    Stara Zagora is the sixth largest city in Bulgaria, and a nationally important economic center. Located in Southern Bulgaria, it is the administrative capital of the homonymous Stara Zagora Province...

     
  • Eparchy of Plovdiv
    Plovdiv
    Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia with a population of 338,153 inhabitants according to Census 2011. Plovdiv's history spans some 6,000 years, with traces of a Neolithic settlement dating to roughly 4000 BC; it is one of the oldest cities in Europe...

     
  • Eparchy of Sofia
    Sofia
    Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 12th largest city in the European Union with a population of 1.27 million people. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha and approximately at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula.Prehistoric settlements were excavated...

     
  • Eparchy of Nevrokop
    Gotse Delchev (town)
    Gotse Delchev , is a town in Blagoevgrad Province of Bulgaria with a population of 23,573.In 1951 the town was renamed after the Bulgarian revolutionary Georgi Nikolov Delchev. It had hitherto been called Nevrokop ....

      (with seat in Blagoevgrad
    Blagoevgrad
    Blagoevgrad is а city in southwestern Bulgaria, the administrative centre of Blagoevgrad Province, with a population of about 74,302 . It lies on the banks of the Blagoevgradska Bistritsa River....

    )
  • Eparchy of Pleven
    Pleven
    Pleven is the seventh most populous city in Bulgaria. Located in the northern part of the country, it is the administrative centre of Pleven Province, as well as of the subordinate Pleven municipality...

     
  • Eparchy of Rousse
    Rousse
    Ruse is the fifth-largest city in Bulgaria. Ruse is situated in the northeastern part of the country, on the right bank of the Danube, opposite the Romanian city of Giurgiu, from the capital Sofia and from the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast...

     


Eparchies abroad:
  • Eparchy of Central and Western Europe (with seat in Berlin
    Berlin
    Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

    );
  • Eparchy of USA, Canada and Australia
    Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia
    The Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada, and Australia is one of fifteen dioceses of the Church of Bulgaria. The diocese is led by Metr. Joseph.-History:...

     (with seat in New York
    New York
    New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

    )

Early Christianity

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church has its origin in the flourishing Christian communities and churches, set up in the Balkans as early as the first centuries of the Christian era. Christianity was brought to the Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

n lands and the rest of the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 by the apostles Paul and Andrew in the 1st century AD, when the first organised Christian communities were formed. By the beginning of the 4th century, Christianity had become the dominant religion in the region. Towns such as Serdica (Sofia
Sofia
Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 12th largest city in the European Union with a population of 1.27 million people. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha and approximately at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula.Prehistoric settlements were excavated...

), Philipopolis (Plovdiv
Plovdiv
Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia with a population of 338,153 inhabitants according to Census 2011. Plovdiv's history spans some 6,000 years, with traces of a Neolithic settlement dating to roughly 4000 BC; it is one of the oldest cities in Europe...

), Odessus (Varna
Varna
Varna is the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and third-largest in Bulgaria after Sofia and Plovdiv, with a population of 334,870 inhabitants according to Census 2011...

) and Adrianople (Edirne
Edirne
Edirne is a city in Eastern Thrace, the northwestern part of Turkey, close to the borders with Greece and Bulgaria. Edirne served as the capital city of the Ottoman Empire from 1365 to 1453, before Constantinople became the empire's new capital. At present, Edirne is the capital of the Edirne...

) were significant centres of Christianity in the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

.

The barbaric raids and incursions in the 4th and the 5th and the settlement of Slavs and Bulgars
Bulgars
The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

 in the 6th and the 7th century wrought considerable damage to the ecclesiastical organisation of the Christian Church in the Bulgarian lands, yet they were far from destroying it. Christianity started to pave its way from the surviving Christian communities to the surrounding Slavic mass. By the middle of the 9th century, the majority of the Bulgarian Slavs, especially those living in Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

 and Macedonia
Macedonia (region)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of the Balkan peninsula in southeastern Europe. Its boundaries have changed considerably over time, but nowadays the region is considered to include parts of five Balkan countries: Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, as...

, were Christianised. The process of conversion also enjoyed some success among the Bulgar
Bulgars
The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

 nobility. It was not until the official adoption of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 by Tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 Boris I
Boris I of Bulgaria
Boris I, also known as Boris-Mihail and Bogoris was the Knyaz of First Bulgarian Empire in 852–889. At the time of his baptism in 864, Boris was named Michael after his godfather, Emperor Michael III...

 in 865 that an independent Bulgarian ecclesiastical entity was established.

Establishment

Boris I believed that cultural advancement and the sovereignty and prestige of a Christian Bulgaria could be achieved through an enlightened clergy governed by an autocephalous church. To this end, he manoeuvred between the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Roman Pope for a period of five years until in 870 AD, the Fourth Council of Constantinople granted the Bulgarians an autonomous Bulgarian archbishopric. The archbishopric had its seat in the Bulgarian capital of Pliska
Pliska
Pliska is the name of both the first capital of Danubian Bulgaria and a small town which was renamed after the historical Pliska after its site was determined and excavations began....

 and its diocese covered the whole territory of the Bulgarian state. The tug-of-war between Rome and Constantinople was resolved by putting the Bulgarian archbishopric under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople, from whom it obtained its first primate, its clergy and theological books.

Although the archbishopric enjoyed full internal autonomy, the goals of Boris I
Boris I of Bulgaria
Boris I, also known as Boris-Mihail and Bogoris was the Knyaz of First Bulgarian Empire in 852–889. At the time of his baptism in 864, Boris was named Michael after his godfather, Emperor Michael III...

 were scarcely fulfilled. A Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 liturgy offered by a Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 clergy furthered neither the cultural development of the Bulgarians, nor the consolidation of the Bulgarian state; it would have eventually resulted in the loss of both the identity of the people and the statehood of Bulgaria. Thus, Boris I greeted the arrival of the disciples of the Saints Cyril and Methodius
Saints Cyril and Methodius
Saints Cyril and Methodius were two Byzantine Greek brothers born in Thessaloniki in the 9th century. They became missionaries of Christianity among the Slavic peoples of Bulgaria, Great Moravia and Pannonia. Through their work they influenced the cultural development of all Slavs, for which they...

 in 886 as an opportunity. Boris I gave them the task to instruct the future Bulgarian clergy in the Glagolitic alphabet
Glagolitic alphabet
The Glagolitic alphabet , also known as Glagolitsa, is the oldest known Slavic alphabet. The name was not coined until many centuries after its creation, and comes from the Old Slavic glagolъ "utterance" . The verb glagoliti means "to speak"...

 and the Slavonic liturgy prepared by Cyril
Saints Cyril and Methodius
Saints Cyril and Methodius were two Byzantine Greek brothers born in Thessaloniki in the 9th century. They became missionaries of Christianity among the Slavic peoples of Bulgaria, Great Moravia and Pannonia. Through their work they influenced the cultural development of all Slavs, for which they...

. The liturgy was based on the vernacular of the Macedonian Slavs from the region of Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

. In 893, Boris I expelled the Greek clergy from the country and ordered the replacing of the Greek language with the Slav-Bulgarian vernacular.

Autocephaly (Patriarchate)

Following Bulgaria's two decisive victories over the Byzantines at Acheloos (near the present-day city of Pomorie
Pomorie
Pomorie is a town and seaside resort in southeastern Bulgaria, located on a narrow rocky peninsula in Burgas Bay on the southern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. It is situated in Burgas Province, 20 km away from the city of Burgas and 18 km from the Sunny Beach resort. The ultrasaline lagoon...

) and Katasyrtai
Battle of Katasyrtai
The battle of Katasyrtai occurred in the fall of 917, shortly after the striking Bulgarian triumph at Acheloos near the village of the same names close to the Byzantine capital Constantinople, . The result was a Bulgarian victory....

 (near Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

), the government declared the autonomous Bulgarian Archbishopric as autocephalous and elevated it to the rank of Patriarchate at an ecclesiastical and national council held in 919. After Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire signed a peace treaty in 927 that concluded the 20-year-long war between them, the Patriarchate of Constantinople recognised the autocephalous status of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and acknowledged its patriarchal dignity. The Bulgarian Patriarchate was the first autocephalous Slavic Orthodox Church, preceding the autocephaly of the Serbian Orthodox Church
Serbian Orthodox Church
The Serbian Orthodox Church is one of the autocephalous Orthodox Christian churches, ranking sixth in order of seniority after Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Russia...

 (1219) by 300 years and of the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 (1596) by some 600 years. It was the sixth Patriarchate after Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 and Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

. The seat of the Patriarchate was the new Bulgarian capital of Preslav
Preslav
Preslav was the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire from 893 to 972 and one of the most important cities of medieval Southeastern Europe. The ruins of the city are situated in modern northeastern Bulgaria, some 20 kilometres southwest of the regional capital of Shumen, and are currently a...

. The Patriarch was likely to have resided in the town of Drastar (Silistra
Silistra
Silistra is a port city of northeastern Bulgaria, lying on the southern bank of the lower Danube at the country's border with Romania. Silistra is the administrative centre of Silistra Province and one of the important cities of the historical region of Southern Dobrudzha...

), an old Christian centre famous for its martyrs and Christian traditions.

The Ohrid Archbishopric

On April 5, 972, Byzantine Emperor John I Tzimisces conquered and burned down Preslav
Preslav
Preslav was the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire from 893 to 972 and one of the most important cities of medieval Southeastern Europe. The ruins of the city are situated in modern northeastern Bulgaria, some 20 kilometres southwest of the regional capital of Shumen, and are currently a...

, and captured Bulgarian Tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 Boris II. Patriarch Damyan managed to escape, initially to Sredetz (Sofia
Sofia
Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 12th largest city in the European Union with a population of 1.27 million people. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha and approximately at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula.Prehistoric settlements were excavated...

) in western Bulgaria. In the coming years, the residence of the Bulgarian patriarchs remained closely connected to the developments in the war between the next Bulgarian monarchist dynasty, the Comitopuli, and the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

. Patriarch German resided consecutively in Moglen , Voden (Edessa
Edessa, Greece
Edessa , is a city in northern Greece and the capital of the Pella regional unit, in the Central Macedonia region of Greece. It was also the capital of the defunct province of the same name.-Name:...

) (in present-day north-western Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

), and Prespa (in present-day southern Republic of Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

). Around 990, the next patriarch, Philip, moved to Ohrid
Ohrid
Ohrid is a city on the eastern shore of Lake Ohrid in the Republic of Macedonia. It has about 42,000 inhabitants, making it the seventh largest city in the country. The city is the seat of Ohrid Municipality. Ohrid is notable for having once had 365 churches, one for each day of the year and has...

 (in present-day south-western Republic of Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

), which became the permanent seat of the Patriarchate.

After the fall of Bulgaria under Byzantium domination in 1018, Emperor Basil II
Basil II
Basil II , known in his time as Basil the Porphyrogenitus and Basil the Young to distinguish him from his ancestor Basil I the Macedonian, was a Byzantine emperor from the Macedonian dynasty who reigned from 10 January 976 to 15 December 1025.The first part of his long reign was dominated...

 Bulgaroktonus (the “Bulgar-Slayer”) acknowledged the autocephalous status of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. By special charters (royal decrees), his government set up its boundaries, dioceses, property and other privileges. The church was deprived of its Patriarchal title and reduced to the rank of an archbishopric. Although the first appointed archbishop (John of Debar) was a Bulgarian, his successors, as well as the whole higher clergy, were invariably Greeks
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

. The monks and the ordinary priests remained, however, predominantly Bulgarian. To a large extent the archbishopric preserved its national character, upheld the Slavonic liturgy and continued its contribution to the development of Bulgarian literature. The autocephaly of the Ohrid Archbishopric
Bulgarian Archbishopric of Ohrid
The Archbishopric of Ochrid was an autonomous Orthodox Church under the tutelage of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople between 1019 and 1767...

 remained respected during the periods of Byzantine, Bulgarian, Serbian and Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 rule. The church continued to exist until its unlawful abolition in 1767.

The Tarnovo Patriarchate

As a result of the successful uprising of the brothers Peter IV
Peter IV of Bulgaria
Peter IV ruled as emperor of Bulgaria 1185–1197. Together with his brother Asen he managed to restore the Bulgarian Empire after nearly 170 years of Byzantine domination.-Name:...


and Ivan Asen I in 1185/1186, the foundations of the Second Bulgarian State were laid with Tarnovo as its capital. Following Boris I
Boris I of Bulgaria
Boris I, also known as Boris-Mihail and Bogoris was the Knyaz of First Bulgarian Empire in 852–889. At the time of his baptism in 864, Boris was named Michael after his godfather, Emperor Michael III...

’s principle that the sovereignty of the state is inextricably linked to the autocephaly of the Church, the two brothers immediately took steps to restore the Bulgarian Patriarchate. As a start, they established an independent archbishopric in Tarnovo in 1186. The struggle to have the archbishopric recognized according to the canonical order and elevated to the rank of a Patriarchate took almost 50 years. Following the example of Boris I, Bulgarian Tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 Kaloyan manoeuvred for years between the Patriarch of Constantinople and Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III
Pope Innocent III was Pope from 8 January 1198 until his death. His birth name was Lotario dei Conti di Segni, sometimes anglicised to Lothar of Segni....

. Finally in 1203 the latter proclaimed the Tarnovo Archbishop Vassily "Primate
Primate (religion)
Primate is a title or rank bestowed on some bishops in certain Christian churches. Depending on the particular tradition, it can denote either jurisdictional authority or ceremonial precedence ....

 and Archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

 of all Bulgaria and Walachia." The union with the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 continued for well over three decades.

Under the reign of Tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 Ivan Asen II (1218–1241), conditions were created for the termination of the union with Rome and for the recognition of the autocephalous status of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. In 1235 a church council was convened in the town of Lampsakos. Under the presidency of Patriarch Germanus II of Constantinople
Patriarch Germanus II of Constantinople
Germanus II was Patriarch of Constantinople from 1223 until his death in June 1240.He was born at Anaplous in the second half of the 12th century...

 and with the consent of all Eastern Patriarchs, the council confirmed the Patriarchal dignity of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and consecrated the Bulgarian archbishop German as Patriarch.

Despite the shrinking of the diocese of the Tarnovo Patriarchate at the end of the 13th century, its authority in the Eastern Orthodox world remained high. It was the Patriarch of Tarnovo who confirmed the patriarchal dignity of the Serbian Orthodox Church
Serbian Orthodox Church
The Serbian Orthodox Church is one of the autocephalous Orthodox Christian churches, ranking sixth in order of seniority after Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Russia...

 in 1346, despite protests by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. It was under the wing of the Patriarchate that the Tarnovo Literary School
Tarnovo Literary School
The Tarnovo Literary School of the late 14th and 15th century was a major medieval Bulgarian cultural academy with important contribution to the Medieval Bulgarian literature established in the capital of Bulgaria Tarnovo...

 developed in the 14th century, with scholars of the rank of Patriarch Evtimiy, Gregory Tsamblak
Gregory Tsamblak
Gregory Tsamblak ; was a Bulgarian writer and cleric, metropolitan of Kiev between 1413 and 1420. His name is also spelled Gregorije Camblak....

, and Konstantin of Kostenets. A considerable flowering was noted in the fields of literature, architecture, and painting; the religious and theological literature also flourished.

After the fall of Tarnovo under the Ottomans
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 in 1393 and the sending of Patriarch Evtimiy into exile, the autocephalous church organization was destroyed again. The Bulgarian diocese was subordinated to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The other Bulgarian religious centre the Ohrid Archbishopric
Bulgarian Archbishopric of Ohrid
The Archbishopric of Ochrid was an autonomous Orthodox Church under the tutelage of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople between 1019 and 1767...

managed to survive a few centuries more (until 1767), as a stronghold of faith and piety.

Ottoman rule

As the Ottomans were Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, the period of Ottoman rule was the most difficult in the history of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, to the same extent as it was the hardest in the history of the Bulgarian people. During and immediately after the Ottoman conquest, the vast majority of the Bulgarian churches and monasteries, including the Patriarchal Cathedral church of the Holy Ascension in Tarnovo, were razed to the ground. The few surviving ones were converted into mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

s. Most of the clergy were killed, while the intelligentsia associated with the Tarnovo Literary School
Tarnovo Literary School
The Tarnovo Literary School of the late 14th and 15th century was a major medieval Bulgarian cultural academy with important contribution to the Medieval Bulgarian literature established in the capital of Bulgaria Tarnovo...

 fled to neighbouring Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

, Wallachia
Wallachia
Wallachia or Walachia is a historical and geographical region of Romania. It is situated north of the Danube and south of the Southern Carpathians...

, Moldavia
Moldavia
Moldavia is a geographic and historical region and former principality in Eastern Europe, corresponding to the territory between the Eastern Carpathians and the Dniester river...

 or to Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

.
There were martyr
Martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

s to the Church as many districts and almost all larger towns in the Bulgarian provinces of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 were subjected to forceful conversion to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 as early as the first years after the conquest. St. George of Kratovo
Kratovo
Kratovo may refer to:*Kratovo, Macedonia, a town in the Republic of Macedonia*Kratovo, Russia, an urban-type settlement in Moscow Oblast, Russia*Kratovo, Serbia, a settlement situated in the Priboj municipality of southwestern Serbia...

(+1515), St. Nicholas of Sofia
Sofia
Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 12th largest city in the European Union with a population of 1.27 million people. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha and approximately at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula.Prehistoric settlements were excavated...

 (+1515), Bishop Vissarion of Smolen (+1670), Damaskin of Gabrovo
Gabrovo
Gabrovo is a city in central northern Bulgaria, the administrative centre of Gabrovo Province. It is situated at the foot of the central Balkan Mountains, in the valley of the Yantra River, and is known as an international capital of humour and satire , as well as noted for its Bulgarian National...

 (+1771), St. Zlata of Muglen (+1795), St. John the Bulgarian (+1814), St. Ignatius of Stara Zagora
Stara Zagora
Stara Zagora is the sixth largest city in Bulgaria, and a nationally important economic center. Located in Southern Bulgaria, it is the administrative capital of the homonymous Stara Zagora Province...

 (+1814), St. Onouphry of Gabrovo
Gabrovo
Gabrovo is a city in central northern Bulgaria, the administrative centre of Gabrovo Province. It is situated at the foot of the central Balkan Mountains, in the valley of the Yantra River, and is known as an international capital of humour and satire , as well as noted for its Bulgarian National...

 (+1818) and many others perished defending their faith.

After many of the leadership of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church were executed, it was fully subordinated to the Patriarch of Constantinople
Patriarch of Constantinople
The Ecumenical Patriarch is the Archbishop of Constantinople – New Rome – ranking as primus inter pares in the Eastern Orthodox communion, which is seen by followers as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church....

. The millet system in the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 granted a number of important civil and judicial functions to the Patriarch of Constantinople and the diocesan metropolitans. As the higher Bulgarian church clerics were replaced by Greek ones at the beginning of the Ottoman domination, the Bulgarian population was subjected to double oppression political by the Ottomans and cultural by the Greek clergy. With the rise of Greek nationalism in the second half of the 18th century, the clergy imposed the Greek language
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 and a Greek consciousness on the emerging Bulgarian bourgeoisie. The Patriarchate of Constantinople became its tool to assimilate other peoples. At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, the clergy opened numerous schools with all-round Greek language
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 curriculum and nearly banned the Bulgarian liturgy. These actions threatened the survival of the Bulgarians as a separate nation and people with its own, distinct national culture.

The monasteries were instrumental in the preservation of the Bulgarian language and the Bulgarian national consciousness throughout the centuries of Ottoman domination. Especially important were the Zograph and Hilandar monasteries on Mount Athos
Mount Athos
Mount Athos is a mountain and peninsula in Macedonia, Greece. A World Heritage Site, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries and forms a self-governed monastic state within the sovereignty of the Hellenic Republic. Spiritually, Mount Athos comes under the direct jurisdiction of the...

, as well as the Rila
Rila Monastery
The Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila, better known as the Rila Monastery is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. It is situated in the southwestern Rila Mountains, south of the capital Sofia in the deep valley of the Rilska River at an elevation of above sea level...

, Troyan
Troyan Monastery
The Monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God or, as it is more commonly called, the Troyan Monastery is the third largest monastery in Bulgaria...

, Etropole, Dryanovo
Dryanovo Monastery
The Dryanovo Monastery is a functioning Bulgarian Orthodox monastery situated in the Andaka River Valley, in Bulgarka Nature Park in the central part of Bulgaria five kilometers away from the town of Dryanovo. It was founded in the 12th century, during the Second Bulgarian Empire, and is dedicated...

, Cherepish and Dragalevtsi
Dragalevtsi Monastery
Dragalevtsi Monastery of the Holy Mother of God of Vitosha is a Bulgarian Orthodox monastery on the lower slopes of Vitosha mountain on the outskirts of the capital Sofia in western Bulgaria...

 monasteries in Bulgaria. The monks managed to preserve their national character in the monasteries, continuing traditions of the Slavonic liturgy and Bulgarian literature. They continued to operate monastery schools and carried out other educational activities, which managed to keep the flame of the Bulgarian culture burning.

The Bulgarian Exarchate


In 1762, St. Paisius of Hilendar
Paisius of Hilendar
Saint Paisius of Hilendar or Paisiy Hilendarski was a Bulgarian clergyman and a key Bulgarian National Revival figure. He is most famous for being the author of Istoriya Slavyanobolgarskaya, the second modern Bulgarian history after the work of Petar Bogdan Bakshev from 1667, “History of Bulgaria”...

 (1722–1773), a monk from the south-western Bulgarian town of Bansko
Bansko
Bansko is a town and a popular ski resort in southwestern Bulgaria, located at the foot of the Pirin Mountains at an elevation of 925 m above sea level....

, wrote a short historical work. It was the first work written in the modern Bulgarian vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

 and was also the first call for a national awakening. In History of Slav-Bulgarians, Paissiy urged his compatriots to throw off subjugation to the Greek language and culture. The example of Paissiy was followed by a number of other activists, including St. Sophroniy of Vratsa (Sofroni Vrachanski) (1739–1813), hieromonk Spiridon of Gabrovo, hieromonk Yoakim Karchovski (d. 1820), hieromonk Kiril Peychinovich
Kiril Peychinovich
Kiril Peychinovich or Kiril Pejčinoviḱ was a cleric, writer and enlightener, one of the first supporters of the use of modern Bulgarian in literature , and one of the early figures of the Bulgarian National Revival...

 (d. 1845).

Discontent with the supremacy of the Greek clergy started to flare up in several Bulgarian dioceses as early as the 1820s. It was not until 1850 that the Bulgarians initiated a purposeful struggle against the Greek clerics in a number of bishoprics, demanding their replacement with Bulgarian ones. By that time, most Bulgarian clergy had realised that further struggle for the rights of the Bulgarians
Bulgarians
The Bulgarians are a South Slavic nation and ethnic group native to Bulgaria and neighbouring regions. Emigration has resulted in immigrant communities in a number of other countries.-History and ethnogenesis:...

 in the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 could not succeed unless they managed to obtain some degree of autonomy from the Patriarchate of Constantinople. As the Ottomans identified nationality with religion, and the Bulgarians were Eastern Orthodox, the Ottomans considered them part of the Roum-Milet, i.e., the Greeks. To gain Bulgarian schools and liturgy, the Bulgarians needed to achieve an independent ecclesiastical organisation.

The struggle between the Bulgarians, led by Neofit Bozveli
Neofit Bozveli
Neofit Bozveli was a Bulgarian cleric and enlightener and one of the leaders of the Bulgarian Church struggle.Born in the lively sub-Balkan town of Kotel, Bozveli completed his basic education there and may well have been a student of Sophronius of Vratsa...

 and Ilarion Makariopolski
Ilarion Makariopolski
Ilarion Makariopolski , born Stoyan Stoyanov Mihaylovski was a 19th-century Bulgarian cleric and one of the leaders of the struggle for an autonomous Bulgarian church....

, and the Greeks intensified throughout the 1860s. By the end of the decade, Bulgarian bishoprics had expelled most of the Greek clerics, thus the whole of northern Bulgaria, as well as the northern parts of Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

 and Macedonia
Macedonia (region)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of the Balkan peninsula in southeastern Europe. Its boundaries have changed considerably over time, but nowadays the region is considered to include parts of five Balkan countries: Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, as...

 had effectively seceded from the Patriarchate. The Ottoman government restored the Bulgarian Patriarchate under the name of "Bulgarian Exarchate
Bulgarian Exarchate
The Bulgarian Exarchate was the official name of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church before its autocephaly was recognized by the Ecumenical See in 1945 and the Bulgarian Patriarchate was restored in 1953....

" by a decree (firman) of the Sultan
Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

 promulgated on February 28, 1870. The original Exarchate extended over present-day northern Bulgaria (Moesia
Moesia
Moesia was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans, along the south bank of the Danube River. It included territories of modern-day Southern Serbia , Northern Republic of Macedonia, Northern Bulgaria, Romanian Dobrudja, Southern Moldova, and Budjak .-History:In ancient...

), Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

 without the Vilayet of Adrianople, as well as over north-eastern Macedonia
Macedonia (region)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of the Balkan peninsula in southeastern Europe. Its boundaries have changed considerably over time, but nowadays the region is considered to include parts of five Balkan countries: Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, as...

. After the Christian population of the bishoprics of Skopje
Skopje
Skopje is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Macedonia with about a third of the total population. It is the country's political, cultural, economic, and academic centre...

 and Ohrid
Ohrid
Ohrid is a city on the eastern shore of Lake Ohrid in the Republic of Macedonia. It has about 42,000 inhabitants, making it the seventh largest city in the country. The city is the seat of Ohrid Municipality. Ohrid is notable for having once had 365 churches, one for each day of the year and has...

 voted in 1874 overwhelmingly in favour of joining the Exarchate (Skopje by 91%, Ohrid by 97%), the Bulgarian Exarchate
Bulgarian Exarchate
The Bulgarian Exarchate was the official name of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church before its autocephaly was recognized by the Ecumenical See in 1945 and the Bulgarian Patriarchate was restored in 1953....

 became in control of the whole of Vardar
Vardar Macedonia
Vardar Macedonia is an area in the north of the Macedonia . The borders of the area are those of the Republic of Macedonia. It covers an area of...

 and Pirin Macedonia. The Bulgarian Exarchate was partially represented in southern Macedonia
Macedonia (Greece)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of Greece in Southern Europe. Macedonia is the largest and second most populous Greek region...

 and the Vilayet of Adrianople by vicars. Thus, the borders of the Exarchate included all Bulgarian districts in the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

.
The Patriarchate of Constantinople opposed the change, promptly declaring the Bulgarian Exarchate
Bulgarian Exarchate
The Bulgarian Exarchate was the official name of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church before its autocephaly was recognized by the Ecumenical See in 1945 and the Bulgarian Patriarchate was restored in 1953....

 schismatic and its adherents heretics. Although the status and the guiding principles of the Exarchate reflected the canons, the Patriarchate argued that “surrender of Orthodoxy
Orthodoxy
The word orthodox, from Greek orthos + doxa , is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion...

 to ethnic nationalism” was essentially a manifestation of heresy
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

.

The first Bulgarian Exarch was Antim I
Antim I
Antim I , born Atanas Mihaylov Chalakov , was a Bulgarian education figure and clergyman, and a participant in the Bulgarian liberation and church-independence movement. He was the first head of the Bulgarian Exarchate, a post he held from 1872 to 1877...

, who was elected by the Holy Synod of the Exarchate in February, 1872. He was discharged by the Ottoman government immediately after the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish War on April 24, 1877, and was sent into exile in Ankara
Ankara
Ankara is the capital of Turkey and the country's second largest city after Istanbul. The city has a mean elevation of , and as of 2010 the metropolitan area in the entire Ankara Province had a population of 4.4 million....

. His successor, Joseph I
Joseph I of Bulgaria
Joseph I, born as Lazar Yovchev, , also known as Iosif I, was a Bulgarian Exarch from 1877 to 1915. His grave, marked by a white cross and a bed of flowers, is located just outside the western wall of St Nedelya Church in Sofia....

, managed to develop and considerably extend its church and school network in the Bulgarian Principality, Eastern Rumelia
Eastern Rumelia
Eastern Rumelia or Eastern Roumelia was an administratively autonomous province in the Ottoman Empire and Principality of Bulgaria from 1878 to 1908. It was under full Bulgarian control from 1885 on, when it willingly united with the tributary Principality of Bulgaria after a bloodless revolution...

, Macedonia
Macedonia (region)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of the Balkan peninsula in southeastern Europe. Its boundaries have changed considerably over time, but nowadays the region is considered to include parts of five Balkan countries: Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, as...

 and the Adrianople Vilayet. In 1895, the Tarnovo Constitution
Tarnovo Constitution
The Tarnovo Constitution was the first constitution of Bulgaria. It was adopted on 16 April 1879 by the Constituent National Assembly held in Veliko Tarnovo as part of the establishment of the Principality of Bulgaria...

 formally established the Bulgarian Orthodox Church as the national religion of the nation. On the eve of the Balkan Wars
Balkan Wars
The Balkan Wars were two conflicts that took place in the Balkans in south-eastern Europe in 1912 and 1913.By the early 20th century, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia, the countries of the Balkan League, had achieved their independence from the Ottoman Empire, but large parts of their ethnic...

, in Macedonia and the Adrianople Vilayet, the Bulgarian Exarchate
Bulgarian Exarchate
The Bulgarian Exarchate was the official name of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church before its autocephaly was recognized by the Ecumenical See in 1945 and the Bulgarian Patriarchate was restored in 1953....

 had seven dioceses with prelates and eight more with acting chairmen in charge and 38 vicariates; 1,218 parishes and 1,212 parish priests; 64 monasteries and 202 chapels; as well as of 1,373 schools with 2,266 teachers and 78,854 pupils.

After World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, by virtue of the peace treaties, the Bulgarian Exarchate was deprived of its dioceses in Macedonia
Macedonia (region)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of the Balkan peninsula in southeastern Europe. Its boundaries have changed considerably over time, but nowadays the region is considered to include parts of five Balkan countries: Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, as...

 and Aegean Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

. Exarch Joseph I transferred his offices from Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 to Sofia
Sofia
Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 12th largest city in the European Union with a population of 1.27 million people. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha and approximately at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula.Prehistoric settlements were excavated...

 as early as 1913. After the death of Joseph I
Joseph I of Bulgaria
Joseph I, born as Lazar Yovchev, , also known as Iosif I, was a Bulgarian Exarch from 1877 to 1915. His grave, marked by a white cross and a bed of flowers, is located just outside the western wall of St Nedelya Church in Sofia....

 in 1915, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church was not in a position to elect its regular head for a total of three decades.

Second restoration of the Bulgarian Patriarchate

Conditions for the restoration of the Bulgarian Patriarchate and the election of a head of the Bulgarian Church were created after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. In 1945 the schism was lifted and the Patriarch of Constantinople recognised the autocephaly of the Bulgarian Church. In 1950, the Holy Synod adopted a new Statute which paved the way for the restoration of the Patriarchate and in 1953, it elected the Metropolitan of Plovdiv, Cyril, Bulgarian Patriarch. After the death of Patriarch Cyril in 1971, the Church elected in his place the Metropolitan of Lovech
Lovech
Lovech is a town in north-central Bulgaria with a population of 36,296 as of February 2011. It is the administrative centre of the Lovech Province and of the subordinate Lovech Municipality. The town is located about 150 km northeast from the capital city of Sofia...

, Maxim, who is the current Bulgarian Patriarch.
Under Communism (1944–89), Bulgaria's rulers worked to control rather than destroy the church. Still, the early postwar years were unsettling to church hierarchs. During 1944-47 the church was deprived of jurisdiction in marriage, divorce, issuance of birth and death certificates, and other passages that had been sacraments as well as state events. Communists removed study of the catechism and church history from school curricula. They generated anti-religious propaganda and persecuted some priests. From 1947-49 was the height of the campaign to intimidate the church. Bishop Boris was assassinated; Egumenius Kalistrat, administrator of the Rila Monastery
Rila Monastery
The Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila, better known as the Rila Monastery is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. It is situated in the southwestern Rila Mountains, south of the capital Sofia in the deep valley of the Rilska River at an elevation of above sea level...

, was imprisoned; and various other clergy were murdered or charged with crimes against the state. The communists soon replaced all clergy who refused to endorse the regime's policies. They banished Exarch Stefan, who had co-authored a book in 1948 that was considered anti-Communist.
From that time until the dissolution of the Soviet Union and collapse of Communism in 1989, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the Bulgarian Communist Party
Bulgarian Communist Party
The Bulgarian Communist Party was the communist and Marxist-Leninist ruling party of the People's Republic of Bulgaria from 1946 until 1990 when the country ceased to be a communist state...

 coexisted in a closely symbiotic partnership, in which each supported the other. The party supported the elevation of the exarchate to the rank of patriarchate in May 1953. The 1970 commemoration served to recall that the exarchate (which retained its jurisdictional borders until after World War I) included Macedonia and Thrace in addition to present-day Bulgaria. Along with other autocephalous Orthodox churches, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church does not recognize the autocephaly of the Macedonian Orthodox Church
Macedonian Orthodox Church
The Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric or just Macedonian Orthodox Church is the body of Christians who are united under the Archbishop of Ohrid and Macedonia, exercising jurisdiction over Macedonian Orthodox Christians in the Republic of Macedonia and in exarchates in the Macedonian...

.



External links

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