As we know, the Church is an institution organized around extremely conservative principles. What does that mean?

In her doctrine, the continuity, preservation and transmission of tradition, that is, essential, is essential. it relies exclusively on the historical past, living in the past and the present. In this, it is different from other influential institutions that want to declare themselves broken by any traditions that have broken away from them and overcome the decline. For example, in institutions such as the present-day school, emphasis is placed on breaking the pedagogical views of the past (fighting with sticks and other physical punishments), and modernization is seen as something normal and graceful. Once the Bulgarian school was a cell, the curricula were at a primitive level, but over time, things have changed in this respect, which is naturally for the good of all.

In the Church, the processes of modernization are often met with reluctance, given that, based on tradition, church officials should be especially vigilant about news of any kind. There are key moments in the history of the Catholic Church in creating a bond between it, the Bulgarian people and the Bulgarian ethnic land. The western Bulgarian lands are part of the praetorian Illyric Prefecture, organized during the time of Emperor Diocletian (284 - 305) and inherited the old Roman province of Illyricum. After the Christianization of the Roman Empire, and especially during its division into the West, with the center of Rome and the East, with the center of Constantinople (395), Illyricus (including today's western Bulgarian lands) became the subject of dispute between the Pope and the Byzantine patriarch of supreme law over ecclesiastical dioceses (areas) within the prefecture.

In 437, Illyricus was given the dowry of the Roman emperor Valentinian III after his marriage to the daughter of the East Roman emperor Theodosius II. This leads to the claim of the Holy See in Rome to jurisdiction over dioceses. Of course, in the following centuries, with the "barbaric" invasions in these lands, new peoples were accommodated, who accepted the Orthodox religion (Bulgarians, Serbs, etc.), but the claims of the Roman popes remained. Let us not forget that the Pope is particularly active in the internal affairs of the Balkan states, giving royal titles to a number of Balkan rulers (including the Bulgarian Tsar Kaloyan), forcing these rulers to secede from the Orthodox faith after the Great Schism ( 1054), and recognize its supremacy.

These historical claims of the Pope played a role, at a much later time (XVII century), in the Bulgarian lands to create a planned movement for the imposition of the Catholic faith among the Orthodox Bulgarian population. As already mentioned, historical heritage and historical claims are of great importance to the Catholic Church and serve as justification for some seemingly morally difficult actions. For it is known that in their native lands, Bulgarians, between the ninth and seventeenth centuries, professed Orthodoxy (at least 600, if we consider the time of the Great Schism), not Catholicism, for about eight hundred years. For these many centuries, the Orthodox religion has reflected in a very specific way on the Bulgarian spirit. With the Orthodox peoples, over time, one may be called a "cult of tears", also a kind of "cult of suffering", which comes to life very clearly from the novels of FM Dostoevsky. Whereas, in Catholicism, on the contrary, there are too aggressive, belligerent attitudes. Under the banner of Catholicism, conquering crusades were conducted, new lands were conquered, and the native population (Indians in America, negroes in Africa, etc.) subjugated. It is not without reason that Roman Catholicism is "a true continuation of the Western Roman Empire," and the Pope has the Holy Inquisition at his disposal.

But as the seventeenth-century Catholic bishop, Ilia Marinov, writes, Bulgarians appear to be greater enemies of Catholicism than the Turks. Of all Christian peoples in the Balkans, among Bulgarians, Catholic propaganda of the seventeenth century had the least success. In his letters, another Catholic, Peter Bogdan, wrote that "in order to convert Bulgarians from Orthodox to Catholics, a divine power is required."

However, let us pay a little more attention to the Catholic movement among the Bulgarian population in the seventeenth century, because it expresses some progressive views that later underlie the Bulgarian Revival as well.

Of great importance for the genesis of the movement was the creation by Pope Gregory XVI of 22 on July 1622, the Holy Congregation for the Propagation of Faith. The mission of this new institution is to promote Catholicism and the orders of the Catholic Church in non-Catholic countries. The activity of this congregation creates the opportunity for poor Bulgarian children to study in Italian schools and then return to their native places to work for the Catholic Church.

Such is the life path of the prominent Bulgarian writers Peter Bogdan, Peter Parchevich, Philip Stanislavov, Ilia Marinov and others. B. Penev notes:

"One of the great merits of the Bulgarian Catholic clergy is that it has contributed to the preservation of the Bulgarian language and has taken care of the Bulgarian education. Bulgarian Catholic priests, although they studied abroad for a long time and served in the Roman Catholic Church, did not forget their nationality, did not stop caring for the Bulgarian education and the preservation of the Bulgarian language. (…) And it must be acknowledged that in this case the merit of the Catholic clergy is not small for our national self-preservation and awakening; during an era when the Patriarchate of Constantinople considered Bulgarians barbarians and forbade them to study and serve in a church in their native language, Catholic priests taught and preached in Bulgarian, translated and wrote in Slavic (“in nostra lingua "-" in our language "), as they express themselves in their letters to the Congregation."

G. Bakalov emphasized the importance of Catholic archbishops in Sofia, Martianopolis (Devnya), Nikopol and Ohrid. "These Catholic centers make a huge contribution to raising the educational level of a significant number of Bulgarians in times of complete ignorance and spiritual darkness, as well as to promote the Bulgarian national cause in the West. Peter Bogdan, Peter Parchevich, Philip Stanislavov and a number of nameless faith and education activists also help to shape the national self-esteem of thousands of our fellow countrymen. "

The first years of the activities of the Holy Congregation for the Propagation of Faith in relation to the Bulgarian lands are related to the activities of the Bosniak Peter Solinat, who is a Franciscan missionary and the first Catholic bishop in the Bulgarian lands. In Chiprovtsi Peter Solinat established the first Catholic school and a Catholic monastery. It was he who sent the little Peter Bogdan to study at the famous Clementine College in Rome.

Peter Bogdan's services to Bulgaria can be summarized as follows. Peter Bogdan Bakshev, born 400 years ago in Chiprovets, will have an unusual fate for a Bulgarian. Having received a high education in Rome during 1643, he will become the head of Catholic Catholics after being appointed by the Pope as Archbishop of Sofia. An ardent Bulgarian patriot, Peter Bogdan will carry out with all his activity, the so-called by the historians, the Early Renaissance of the Bulgarian people.

Peter Bogdan restores the Bulgarian Catholic dioceses and thus outlines Bulgaria's future political borders, including Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia. He is the creator of the revolutionary Bulgarian organization that will in the 1688 raise the liberation Chiprovtsi uprising.

The scientific and literary activity of the Archbishop of Sofia is fruitful. Peter Bogdan is the author of History of Bulgaria (1667), which preceded Father Paisii's almost 100 years; History of Ohrid - the capital of Bulgaria; "A Chronicle of the Moravian Mission of St. Cyril and Methodius."

He finally made the first Bulgarian coat of arms in 1643.

In the preface to his most important work, History of Bulgaria, Peter Bogdan writes for himself: “I was born by the Bulgarian land, now, almost worn out by old age, the same homeland strengthens me as a crumbling ship after long and various voyages. "

Another significant figure of the Bulgarians - Catholics is Philip Stanislavov, also sent to study in Italy by Peter Solinat and subsequently rose to the rank of bishop of Nikopol. F. Stanislavov is the author of the first Bulgarian printed book "Abagar" (1651), which he bequeathed "to his own kind", and he calls himself "Bishop of Greater Bulgaria". Philip Stanislavov is an extremely active person and a great guardian of Bulgarian education. In many of his letters to the Congregation, he draws attention to the destinies of his people. "All foreign nations have schools, as in Rome the Germans, Flemish and Maronites, in Loreto Dalmatians, Albanians, Bosniaks and Dubrovnikers; and poor Bulgarians have nowhere to go, nor how to acquire virtue and science. "

It should be mentioned that the hard work of the Bulgarian Catholic writers of the seventeenth century was concentrated in a very short period of time, but on the other hand it is so far-sighted and fruitful that it finds its natural continuation two centuries later, in the glorious years of the Bulgarian Revival.

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