Cyprian, unknown today, is among the most influential Bulgarians in world history. Leaving his homeland, this compatriot of ours settled in another country, where he began to rule millions of human destinies. For nearly thirty years (from 1375 to 1406), Cyprian headed the Russian Orthodox Church with short breaks.

 

Acting as Metropolitan of Kiev, and then Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia, Cyprian the Bulgarian took on the ambitious task of uniting the Russian lands spiritually and becoming the spiritual leader of all Russians. He goes through countless trials, but in the end he succeeds. And the important thing in this case is not so much that one of our compatriots "takes" the church power in Russia, but that this Bulgarian copes with the strife and quarrels between Christians in the Russian lands. He managed to unite these same lands by virtue of his high authority and great abilities.

St. Cyprian - Metropolitan of Kiev

Cyprian comes from the noble Tarnovo family Tsamblak. He was born in 1330. He is the uncle of another great man Bulgarian writer - Gregory Tsamblak. His nephew wrote about him that he was "breastfed by Bulgaria, donated to Russia." Cyprian is one of the most prominent personalities who contributed to the "second golden age" of Bulgarian writing and culture, from the time of Tsar Ivan Alexander (1331 - 1371). At a very young age, Cyprian entered the school of Theodosius of Tarnovo, in the Kilifarevo Monastery near the capital Tarnovgrad. His spiritual brothers from the monastery are Euthymius, the future patriarch of Tarnovo and Dionysius Divni.

 

Under the influence of his teacher Theodosius of Tarnovo, Cyprian adopted the spiritual teachings of hesychasm. Cyprian Tsamblak became one of the luminaries of the Tarnovo Literary School. His talent does not go unnoticed. In 1363 Theodosius of Tarnovo took his disciples Cyprian and Euthymius on a visit to the Patriarch of Constantinople Callistus I in the monastery of Paroria. After the death of his teacher (November 27, 1363), Euthymius and Cyprian went together to the Studio Monastery, then Cyprian went to the monastery of Mount Athos "St. Paul. The monk Cyprian is also famous in Mount Athos for his abilities. His fame reached the ears of the Constantinople patriarch Philoteus Kokinos, who called him to Constantinople to make him his "approximate monk."

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In 1373, Cyprian went to Russia as an envoy of Patriarch Philoteus to fulfill a very important unifying mission. What moves Cyprian on this path? Cyprian is a follower of Gregory Palamas - a great supporter of the unity of the Orthodox Church. In order to protect the Orthodox peoples from enemy attacks and schisms, they must be united.

 

However, this is not the situation that Cyprian finds in Russian lands. Russia's West and East are enemies rather than friends. On December 2, 1375, Cyprian was ordained Metropolitan of Kiev and Lithuania, and after the death of Moscow Metropolitan Alexei is expected to take his throne, uniting the two parts of Russia spiritually. However, the lord of the Kiev-Lithuanian principality, Prince Olgert, had very bad relations with the ruler of the Moscow principality, Dmitry Donsky. This is the reason that hinders Cyprian's mission too much. Dmitry Donsky did not comply with the desire of Constantinople Cyprian to be Metropolitan of Moscow. After Alexei's death in 1378, Dmitry appointed another metropolitan in his place, his confidant.

 

A number of misfortunes occurred while Cyprian became the All-Russian Metropolitan. Meanwhile, Moscow's Prince Dmitry Donsky defeated the Tatars in the famous Battle of Kulikovo (1380), with which he made a serious request to unite Russia politically. It was not until the death of this prince (1389) that Cyprian finally came into possession of the eastern Russian lands. As early as the end of 1387, at a church council, it was officially decided that he would be "Metropolitan of Kiev-Lithuania and all of Russia" for the rest of his life.

How does Cyprian act in the spiritual field? He deals with the unification of liturgical practices in the Russian dioceses. The following goal, useful for the East Slavic lands, is pursued. Politically fragmented Russia, which has long been fragmented into many small principalities, will finally be united spiritually. Thus, it should strengthen and unite around the strongest Russian principality - Moscow, where is the residence of the spiritual head of all Russia - Metropolitan Cyprian the Bulgarian.

 

The Bulgarian literary tradition owes a lot to Cyprian the Bulgarian, because he preserved the literary language of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (Middle Bulgarian), transferring it to Russian soil. Thus, our literary language, Bulgarian from the Second Kingdom, became official (church and state) not only for the southern Slavs (Serbs and Bulgarians), but also for the eastern ones (Russians).

 

What other useful deeds does Metropolitan Cyprian do in Russia? Acting as head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Cyprian also devoted himself to literature. In his works (for example, the famous Cyprian Psalter with sequels) he introduced the Russian community of believers to the South Slavic (Bulgarian and Serbian) saints. Before Cyprian, Russian manuscripts did not contain dedications to Bulgarian saints. In the Cyprian's psalter there are memories of Ivan Rilski, Ilarion Maglenski, Petka Tarnovska and Constantine - Cyril the Philosopher.

 

On the one hand, Cyprian introduced the Middle Bulgarian orthography into the Russian literary tradition, and on the other - the veneration of Bulgarian saints. At a time when the Bulgarian medieval kingdom was erased from the political map as a result of the Ottoman conquest (1396), Cyprian brought the Bulgarian spirit and culture abroad. The Bulgarian heritage "the state of the spirit" has been preserved in Russia thanks to the efforts of Cyprian the Bulgarian.

 

Cyprian also introduced a cult of some local, Russian saints in the Russian Orthodox Church. It is emblematic that on his initiative in 1381 in Russia began to celebrate the memory of St. Alexander Nevsky. After the Liberation, our cathedral in Sofia received the name of this saint (Alexander Nevsky), but it should be known that the Bulgarian Cyprian affirmed his name in the Orthodox tradition.

 

As a Russian metropolitan, Cyprian became famous for a miracle, which later became part of his cult as a saint known in the Russian tradition as St. Cyprian Tsamblak the Wonderworker. The legend tells the following:

The relics of St. Cyprian - Bulgarian

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The great conqueror Timur Lang, better known in history as Tamerlane, organized a campaign against Moscow, where at that time was also Metropolitan Cyprian. Tamerlane's Tatars stopped standing near the city, happily preparing for the impending looting. Then Cyprian ordered that the Vladimir icon of the Holy Mother of God be brought to Moscow. All citizens gather solemnly to welcome the icon, praying to the Mother of God to save them from the Tatars. At night, the Virgin appears in Tamerlane's dream and makes him spare Moscow. The next day the miracle happened and the Tatars surrounded the city. And Cyprian is remembered as the savior of Moscow by Tamerlane's hordes.

 

He was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church as a saint and miracle worker in 1472. In 2006, Russia celebrated 600 years since the Assumption of St. Cyprian the Bulgarian. Bulgarian metropolitans also take part in the liturgy. The Russian patriarch emphasizes the role of Cyprian, not only in the unification of the church, but also of the Russian state.

 

Cyprian Tsamblak is one of the historical figures that Bulgaria can be most proud of. Thanks to him, in the Middle Ages "Bulgarian" was synonymous with a smart and worthy man.

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