« Bulgarian National Church in the United States, The Bulgarians, Conversion of the Bulgaris, Eugenios »

Bulgarians, Conversion of the

BULGARIANS, CONVERSION OF THE: According to Jireček, who follows Schafarik, the Bulgarians were originally related to the Finns. Jordanis says that they lived on the shores of the Black Sea in the fifth century, clashing frequently with the Ostrogoths in the reign of Theodoric, who, according to Ennodius, checked their victorious advance toward the west in 487; Cassiodorus mentions another victory in 504. But their attacks were directed also against the Byzantine Empire. Under Constantine Pogonatus a Bulgarian horde established itself in 679 between the Danube and the Balkans, extending their conquests gradually as far as the mouth of the Save. This territory seems to have been inhabited by people of Slavic race, who first gave their language to the conquerors and then gradually amalgamated with them. The race formed by this fusion was so strongly pagan that it resisted, the introduction of Christianity, which had its martyrs in the first half of the ninth 299century. A change set in under Bogoris (c. 852–888), who in his contests with both Franks and Greeks held out hopes of a conversion as an inducement for peace. In 864 he seems to have entered the Greek Church, and received in return a considerable slice of territory. In Constantinople his conversion was considered genuine, and Photius took pains to instruct him at some length in the duties of a Christian prince. The Bulgarians were apparently less delighted, and rose in armed revolt. The wily barbarian, however, had one eye on the West, and at the same time sent an embassy to Pope Nicholas I., with a number of questions on which he sought enlightenment from Rome. Nicholas immediately sent two bishops to take possession of the Bulgarian territory for the Church, and answered the questions of Bogoris with much more painstaking seriousness than they deserved. Another embassy went to Louis the German to ask that Christian missionaries might be sent. In 867 Louis commissioned Bishop Ermanrich of Passau and a numerous retinue of priests to set out for the Danube. Charlemagne followed by raising a large sum to provide books and church utensils for the Bulgarians. But all this interest was thrown away. When Ermanrich reached Bulgaria, he found the field already occupied by priests from Rome, and returned to Germany. The communion with Rome lasted but a few years longer. Bogoris requested the appointment of Formosus of Porto (one of the two original Roman missionaries) as archbishop, and proposed another candidate when Nicholas declined; when this second nomination was rejected by Adrian II. he lost patience and turned to Constantinople. His envoys took part there in the final session of the Eighth Ecumenical Council (870), and after its close, in spite of the protests of the Roman legates, declared that Bulgaria belonged to the patriarchate of Constantinople. The Roman clergy were obliged to leave and the patriarch Ignatius organized the church by the consecration of a metropolitan and several bishops. Adrian II. protested (871), but in vain, and the efforts of John VIII. to reopen the question were equally fruitless; Bulgaria remained, as, indeed, its geographical situation demanded, a part of the Greek Church.

(A. Hauck.)

Bibliography: C. Jireček, Geschichte der Bulgaren, Prague, 1878; idem Das Fürstentum Bulgarien, ib. 1891; La Bulgarie chrétienne. Étude historique, Paris, 1861; Légendes religieuses bulgares, traduites par Lydia Schischmanoff, ib. 1896.

« Bulgarian National Church in the United States, The Bulgarians, Conversion of the Bulgaris, Eugenios »
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