When the Roman Empire was divided by Diocletian into four great prefectures, that of eastern Illyricum was part of the Western Empire until 389, in which year it was ceded to the Eastern Empire. Ecclesiastically, it depended on Rome, not Byzantium, and to safeguard the rights of Rome, Pope St. Damasus, or perhaps St. Siricius, established between the years 380 and 385 the apostolic vicariate of Illyricum with the center of Thessalonica. In 535 Justinian I, in agreement with Pope Agapito and his successor Vigilius, formed the metropolis of Justinian Prima, today’s Skoplje (Üsküb), with a part of said vicariate, but only around 731, following the iconoclasm, Eastern Illyricum was subjected to the patriarchs of Constantinople. The popes, after having protested, resigned themselves. For Bulgaria religion and languages, please check ezinereligion.com.
During the century VII, the Bulgarians, invaded the current Bessarabia and Dobruja, and in the IX they extended as far as the Aegean (see below). Around 865, the Bulgarian king Boris I became a Christian, more out of politics than out of conviction. Unable to obtain a patriarch from Byzantium, he turned to Rome, and thus began the long dispute between Rome and Constantinople over Bulgaria. The patriarchal title was probably granted to the archbishop of Bulgaria by Rome around 924, and then recognized by Constantinople only in 945. Thus was started the first Bulgarian patriarchate, which lasted from 924 to 1019, with a number of suflragan see varying from sixteen to thirty. After various changes, the residence was fixed in Ochrida, on the lake of the same name. After devastating the Bulgarian kingdom, the emperor Basil II Bulgaroctonus also suppressed the patriarchy. Ochrida became in 1020 the seat of an archbishopric independent of Constantinople, but almost always occupied by Greek prelates.
After the Bulgarians succeeded in reconstituting their country in the form of an independent kingdom in 1185, they asked for a patriarch in Rome; and so in 1204 the archbishop of Tărnovo, Vasilij received the patriarchal title from Innocent III. The union with Rome lasted until the year 1232: political circumstances influenced ecclesiastical relations, the Bulgarians became allies of the Greeks of Nicaea against the Latins of Constantinople, and, in 1235, the patriarch of Constantinople Germano II recognized the independence of Bulgarian church and the patriarchal title for its supreme hierarch. The Ottoman conquest of 1393 ruined that patriarchate, and the territory of the Tărnovo patriarchate was reunited with that of the archbishopric of Ochrida.
It is difficult to determine precisely to which epoch the archbishopric of Ochrida was drawn into the Cerulario schism; it seems that this happened after the century. XII. From 1767, the Greeks ruled absolutely in the Bulgarian countries, and the archbishopric of Ochrida, having lost its independence, became one of the metropolises dependent on the patriarchate of Constantinople.
The first dawning of the national Risorgimento began in the second half of the century. XVIII. At first there was no thought of a separation from the patriarchate, but the resistance of this caused the schism in 1860. An independent exarchate, inaugurated in 1860, was recognized by the Sublime Porte in 1870. The Greeks responded by excommunicating the Bulgarians in 1872: this excommunication is not it has been recognized by other non-Greek autocephalous Orthodox churches, which consider themselves to be in communion with both the Greeks and the Bulgarians. The schism continues today. The exarch’s residence, first established in Constantinople, was moved to Sofia after the Balkan wars of 1912-1913. The exarch Iosif who died in 1916 had no successor. The Bulgarian church, now restricted to the borders allowed to Bulgaria by the recent peace treaties, it is administered by the Holy Synod of Metropolitans (there are no more suffragan bishops, as indeed among the Greeks). The metropolises are Loveč, Sofia, Plovdiv (Plovdiv), Samokov, Stara Zagora, Slivno, Tărnovo, Vrača, Varna, Rustciuk and Vidin. There are also auxiliary bishops. Like the other Orthodox churches, the Bulgarian church is entirely subordinate to the state. There is a major seminary in Sofia, and minor seminaries in Samokov, Plovdiv and elsewhere. Monastic life is in complete decline. The Bulgarian people still remained faithful in the countryside; but in the cities it is more and more indifferent. There are also auxiliary bishops. Like the other Orthodox churches, the Bulgarian church is entirely subordinate to the state. There is a major seminary in Sofia, and minor seminaries in Samokov, Plovdiv and elsewhere. Monastic life is in complete decline. The Bulgarian people still remained faithful in the countryside; but in the cities it is more and more indifferent. There are also auxiliary bishops. Like the other Orthodox churches, the Bulgarian church is entirely subordinate to the state. There is a major seminary in Sofia, and minor seminaries in Samokov, Plovdiv and elsewhere. Monastic life is in complete decline. The Bulgarian people still remained faithful in the countryside; but in the cities it is more and more indifferent.
Already in the middle of the century. XIX, groups of Bulgarians from Macedonia, from the country of Kukus, had tried through the apostolic delegate of the Holy See to be admitted to the Catholic Church. This step seems to have had no consequences; but on 12/24 December 1860, another group of Bulgarians living in Constantinople made a similar step towards the primate of the Armenian Catholics Antonio Ḥassūn, and was received into the bosom of the church on 31 December. With short of January 24, 1861 (Maxima in Domino iaetitia, in Mansi, XLV, 65) Pius IX encouraged the Bulgarians in their dispositions, and the Sublime Porte granted the new community the civil personality. Archimandrite Iosif Sokolskij was chosen as its bishop and was consecrated by Pius IX on April 8, 1861. Shortly afterwards, missionaries from the congregations of the Augustinians of the Assumption and the resurrectionists were sent to Bulgaria.
Back in Constantinople, the new bishop Iosif Sokolskij managed to obtain numerous adhesions in the parts of Thessaloniki, Monastir, Kazanlǎk, Adrianople. But on 18 June, lured into a trap by the Russian embassy, worried by the extension of the movement, he was kidnapped, and taken first to Odessa, then to Kiev. He lived another ten years: it was never known precisely whether he died a Catholic or not, although the first case is more likely.
He was succeeded by the Paulician Pietro Arabadžiskij, and, having resigned in 1863 due to difficulties encountered by the nationalists, Raffaele Popov was elected bishop who remained in office from 1865 to 1876, when he died. Three years earlier, the Bulgarian Orthodox bishop Nilo Izvorov had taken refuge with him, who had joined the union with Rome due to dissent with the Greeks. When Popov died, Izvorov was appointed administrator with a pontifical brief of 1 October 1876; but in 1895 Izvorov, who had been sent to Constantinople since 1882, returned and died in the schism.
In 1883 two apostolic vicariates were established by Rome, one for Macedonia with residence in Kukuš and one for Thrace with residence in Adrianople. The last apostolic administrator of the Catholic Bulgarians, appointed by the congregation of the Eastern Church (July 31, 1926), is Stephen Kurtev, who, consecrated bishop in Rome, took on the name of Cyril.
The non-Catholic Orthodox Church has eleven metropolises in Bulgaria: it is administered by a Holy Synod made up of all metropolitans and chaired by the Metropolitan of Sofia. According to the 1920 census, the population was divided as follows by confessions: 4,061,829 non-Catholic Orthodox; 40,000 both Eastern and Latin Catholics; 5617 Protestants; 690,734 Muslims; 43,232 Israelites and 5,560 of other confessions. According to data dating back to 1924, Eastern Rite Catholics had 11 churches, 9 chapels, 15 parish houses, 36 priests, partly celibate and partly married, 5 their own schools, 10 religious priests belonging to the congregations of the Resurrectionists and Assumptionists, a small congregation of nuns with 14 people, and counted 4267 souls; these figures have undergone a slight increase since that time.
Roman Catholic Bulgarians. – Bulgaria has a certain number of Roman-rite Catholics. The most important nucleus is made up of the descendants of the Bogomils (v.), Today called Pavlikani, (Pauliciani, one of the terms of the Manichaeans of the Middle Ages). The ancient heretics were all converted to Catholicism in the Latin form, and this by the minor friars who came from Bosnia. Only in 1624 was a special Custody erected for Bulgaria: it also extended to Wallachia, that is to today’s southern Romania. In 1763 the Bulgarian mission passed to the Baptistines of Genoa, then, in 1781, to the Passionists for the northern part of the country while Wallachia was left to the Franciscans. The bishopric of Nicopolis, with residence in Rustciuk (Ruse), still belongs to the Passionists. It has 17 parishes, all in central or northern Bulgaria, with about 15,000 Latin Catholics. For southern Bulgaria the Latin bishopric of Sofia was erected in 1610, transformed into an archbishopric in 1643 and entrusted to the Franciscans. After a violent persecution, the seat of Sofia was given to the Redemptorists in 1835, and in 1841 to the Capuchins, who are still there today. There are 15 parishes, with about 12,000 Catholics, the great majority of them Paulicians. Religious congregations from the West work in the cities: resurrectionists, brothers from Christian schools, and some congregations of nuns. The Paulicians have a special physiognomy and are considered by other Bulgarians as of an inferior race; almost all devoted to agriculture and poor in general speak a particular Bulgarian dialect. resurrectionists, brothers of the Christian schools, and some congregations of nuns. The Paulicians have a special physiognomy and are considered by other Bulgarians as of an inferior race; almost all devoted to agriculture and poor in general speak a particular Bulgarian dialect. resurrectionists, brothers of the Christian schools, and some congregations of nuns. The Paulicians have a special physiognomy and are considered by other Bulgarians as of an inferior race; almost all devoted to agriculture and poor in general speak a particular Bulgarian dialect.