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195th anniversary of the death of Sofronii Vratchansky (1739 - 1813)

195th anniversary of the death of Sofronii Vratchansky (1739 - 1813)

9/23/2008 10:41:07 AM

Sofronii Vrachanski was born Stoiko Vladislavov in the central Bulgarian village of Kotel in 1739.

He entered the priesthood in his home town and rose gradually through the ecclesiastical ranks, becoming igumen/abbot, of Kapinovo Monastery near Veliko Turnovo in the 1780s. During these years he was one of the most enthusiastic copiers and promoters of Otets Paisii's seminal manuscript, the Slav-Bulgarian History, a key text in the awakening of Bulgarian national consciousness.

In accordance with the custom of the time, Sofronii had to bribe Greek church officials in order to be appointed bishop of Vratsa in 1794, an enterprise in which he was assisted financially by patriotic Bulgarian merchants. He was chased into exile by the local kurdzhalii men , who were then in alliance with the wayward Ottoman ruler of Vidin, Osman Pazvantoglu, and spent the rest of his life in Wallachia where he continued to work for the Bulgarian cause.

A firm believer in Russia's messianic role as the protector of Balkan Christendom, Sofronii cultivated links with the St Petersburg court, and oversaw the emigration of thousands of Bulgarian families to Russian-occupied Bessarabia in 1808. The descendants of these "Bessarabian Bulgarians" still live there, occupying a coastal strip west of the Ukranian city of Odessa.

Sofronii is also remembered for his literary works, which include a translation of Aesop's Fables and the first autobiographical novel in Bulgarian, "The Life and Suffering of the Sinner Sofronii", both of which assisted in the development of a standard written form of the Bulgarian language.

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