Sophronius Vrachanski was named a moralist writer in several places. This means that in his works (First and Second Vidin Collection) he teaches his readers (the Bulgarian people), mentors them, points out their mistakes and the way to correct them. And it does not "rebel" them, even though the Bulgarian people are under foreign rule (slavery). Is this his behavior good enough without expressing a revolutionary attitude? Let's answer this question first. Since I have noticed that the answer is quite difficult for readers and commentators, I will like to present different views on the topic. This is the way to determine the place in the Bulgarian history not only of Sofronii Vrachanski, but also of others like him, such as Paisius of Hilendar, Neophyte Rilski, Hilarion Makariopolski etc.
First of all, it is always quite controversial to assign Sophronius to a camp. And yet, is he one of the "good ones"? In our country it is accepted to think that the good ones are these revivalists from the "revolutionary wing". They have significant ideological differences with the "other" revivalists, who do not support their behavior. I will point out some of the more famous "good" - Georgi Rakovski, Lyuben Karavelov, Vasil Levski, Hristo Botev, Georgi Benkovski, Zahari Stoyanov. The view of the "good" on the ways of liberation is not shared by the "others". One of the ideologues of the "good", Lyuben Karavelov (1872), wrote: "I do not believe that a monk will save heaven - freedom will not be an exarch, Karadzha wants." ("Freedom will not Exarch"). For them, the good ones, every teacher and non-specialist will find a good word, but for the various "others" ("monks") - more difficult. The good ones wanted the people to rise up in revolt. With a weapon in hand to win his freedom from the Turks, if he has the strength. If he has no strength, then he should die in battle with dignity.
In that case, we have to say that Bishop Sofronii Vrachanski (pop Stoiko Vladislavov) is not one of the "good" ones. Or rather, it is not so straightforward, it is not so revolutionary. In fact, the same is true of Lyuben Karavelov, who has been thinking about the last years of his life through enlightenment, despite the earlier intolerance of "calu". Therefore, Sophronius can be conditionally placed among the "Kalugers" and their circle (and this with the proviso that in his time the liberation movement was still in its infancy). The rebel point of view, of course, is alien to a divine servant. The lack of rebellious spirit has been regarded as a serious drawback and is often exposed. In his famous poem, Hristo Botev ("My Prayer") calls in his familiar style:
"Oh my God, right God!
Not you who are in heaven,
and you who are in me, God -
me in the heart and in the soul ...
Not you who they worship
calugers and priests
and to whom the candles burn
not you who made it
mud and man and woman,
and you left the man
a slave to be on earth;
not you who anointed
kings, dads, patriarchs,
and in wickedness thou didst kill
my poor brothers;
not you who teach the slave
to endure and pray
and feed it up to the tomb
only hopefully naked. "
This attitude towards the affairs and merits of the clergy seems to be widespread. Honorable mention are those who rebel with weapons in hand. Those who are not excited by default of such actions are the "Orthodox cattle" in our country. This general attitude among the population in the nation-states that appeared on the map of Europe in the nineteenth century - Italy, Germany, Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and others should be highlighted. It so happens that the merits of the people of various "moralizing" clergy and writers, such as Paisius and Sophronius, and those writing on topics of morality in general, have been neglected. Moralists are considered by many to be too lenient, attributing all their flaws to that.
Such contemptuous behavior, of course, is not right. It is too primary and final. The fact that in the past the Bulgarian Revivalists were divided into camps does not mean that today we must continue to divide them, humiliating some at the expense of others. They all fought for the same thing, but by different means. They sought to support with all their strength and skills the well-being of their people. They did not despise their people, but truly loved them and wished them a happy future.
Let us not be misled that only the revolutionaries are inherent in boldness. Sophronius and Paisius are also bold, but in their mind, while in the actions of divine servants they must be (and are) courteous and kind. A moralist's boldness is to complain about public ills and denounce them, which is not a safe act at all. It means openly confronting the many foreign worshipers and gadgets among us, who are generally always empowered (they are always in power and with every power). Because exposing foreign worshipers and gadgets, ridiculing their Janissary behavior (back then, they were Greeks, Grecofiles and Turcofiles, and today they are known by other names) - it means hurting the interests of the empowered. It requires great courage and self-denial. It means that you will always be "persecuted" by people with janitorial attitudes, even after your death. And indeed, if we see even today the attacks of Sophronius and Paisius, these are the spiritual heirs of the Greeks, Grecofiles and Turcofiles, ie. people with janitorial attitudes.
Since the tradition of the writers of moral writers of the late Middle Ages is uncharacteristic in us, we also find it difficult to take the writings of such writers as good and valuable. In France, for example, the situation is different. There, at the time of Louis XIV (King of the Sun) and generally from the seventeenth century onwards, moralists created their high literary models, which in no case were viewed with disdain, but on the contrary. Pascal, Montaigne, Labruyer, Laroshfucco, Rivarol… These are some of the greatest connoisseurs of the human soul. Morality is necessary and useful in every place and time.
Sophronius must be interpreted in this sense. That, on the one hand. Let other countries now highlight Sophronius' diverse contributions to Bulgaria. First, a brief biography is needed. Stoiko Vladislavov (1739-1813) is a native of Kotel, descended from a rich family of cattle traders. He is a direct follower of Paisii Hilendarski's case. The first copy of Slavic-Bulgarian History is his work. In 1762 he was ordained a priest in his hometown, where his literary and educational activities began. During 1765 he met Paisius in Kotel and for the next few years traveled to the Holy Mountain. These events are of great importance for his spiritual maturation. After returning from Holy Mountain, he continued his work at the local cell school. Due to a conflict with the city leaders, he was forced to leave Kotel (1792). He traveled extensively for two years (Anhialo, Karabunar, Constantinople, Arbanassi), until in 1794 he accepted the monasticism at the monastery of Kupin, and on 17 September the same year he was ordained a bishop of Vratsa.
The official opinion in historiography is that he holds this high position because no one else wants it at that time. Because of the unrest in northwestern Bulgaria, accompanied by the administration of Osman Pazvantoglu in Vidin, there was no desire for a metropolitan. In 1797 he left Vratsa and traveled through his diocese. In 1800 he went to Pazvantoglu in Vidin, where he stayed until 1803. There he wrote his collections - First Vidin ("Teaching and Word for the Feast of the Lord") and Second Vidin ("Stories and Reflections"). The former adheres to tradition (Damascus literature) and the latter is defined as rather secular.
It is very likely that Sophronius participated in a political conspiracy during his stay in the diocese of Vidin, under Osman Pazvantoglu. His very appointment as Metropolitan of Vidin raises a number of suspicions. Sophronius maintained close relations with the fanariot circles. There are a lot of historical taxes that Pazvantoglu was a Freemason. In the Masonic spirit, the conspiracy of the initiates was then conceived of the first liberation movement in the Balkans - the Greek one, which grew into Filiki Eteria (the Society of Friends - a secret liberation organization). The idea was to make it a mass liberation movement for all peoples under Ottoman rule. Pazvantoglu and Greek national hero Rigas Velestinlis were friends and shared common ideas at the time (90's of the 18th century). In some form, Sophronius is likely to be involved in their case. So Sophronius was not appointed to the post of Metropolitan because there was "no one" (one initially naive explanation). In the period in which he wrote his biography ("The Life and Sufferings of the Sinful Sophronius"), the political situation was very changed and it was impossible for me to share such things from my past. In addition, his grandson Stefan Bogorodi (Stoiko Tsonkov Stoykov, father of Aleko Bogoridi, the first governor-general of Eastern Rumelia) made a career as an Ottoman official. His grandfather's confessions would hurt him immensely.
"Pazvantoglu, why are you leaving us so indifferent for so long?
Hurry to the Balkans, there you have to shrink a nest like an eagle
Join paradise too if you want to win
Pasha! Appeared immediately to the battlefield
The uprising is at the head of your soldiers ... "(Turios)
They hope he will join his troops and support the liberation movement when the hour strikes. Due to the arrest of Rigas (late 1797) and his execution, the rebellious endeavor failed. In the years that followed, Pazvantoglu's dominion over Christians became very tyrannical. It completely deviates from the revolutionary tendencies it has expressed earlier. Their roads with Sophronius split after 1803.
So Sophronius must be known and valued historically by participating in several different actions. First, through his moralizing work, which includes him in the tradition of Damascus literature, but also in modern times (Second Vidin Collection). His contribution to Bulgarian literature, of course, is greatest with "Life and Sufferings of Sinful Sophronius." This work marks the beginning of the autobiographical genre in native literature. For readers interested in the Renaissance, the language of Sophronius will impress - what interesting words he uses, how he expresses himself. "Life and Sufferings" is a direct touch to the "Bulgarians of old". which makes it the earliest printed book in modern Bulgarian.
At this point, it is impossible to illuminate well enough the period of his stay in the Diocese of Vratsa and his communication with Osman Pazvantoglu. It is safe to say that these are general, conspiratorial actions against the Sultan's authority. And not just the one described in Life, the beating that was inflicted on Sophronius by Pazvantoglu.
Finally, attention should be paid to his activities after 1803 since he lived in Romania. He was particularly active during the Russo-Turkish War (1806-1812 d). Sophronius is one of the first to see in the Russian-Turkish war the opportunity to resolve the issue of Bulgaria's liberation. That is why he sends a power of attorney from Bucharest to the Bulgarians who went on a diplomatic mission in St. Petersburg, Ivan Zambin and Atanas Nekovic, to negotiate with the Russian government on behalf of the Bulgarian emigration to Romania. Even with this action, Sophronius emerges as a leader of the Bulgarian movement, which sets specific political goals. As Ivan Stoyanov points out: “The ideas of the political center, led by S. Vrachanski, mark a higher stage in the political maturation and development of the Bulgarian national liberation movement, which aims to achieve such political status as the neighboring peoples - autonomy within the Ottoman Empire. This idea was further developed in an address by 1813 entitled "To My People and My Kind Compatriots," by Dimitar Popsky. "
Sofronii Vrachanski (Stoiko Vladislavov) is one of the most celebrated Bulgarians of modern times. With his patriotism and deed, he did not yield to his spiritual master Paisius, which made him one of the first and most prominent revivalists.