National Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of Holy Sofronii Bishop of Vratsa Assumption. Under the Patronage of Mrs. Margarita Popova, Vice President of the Republic of Bulgaria

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On October 10th, in the Big Hall of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences National celebration of the 200th anniversary of St. Sophronii Bishop of Vratsa was opened. It was preceded by a solemn service of the Tiveriopolski Bishop Tikhon at “St. Alexander Nevsky" Cathedral, served with His Holiness Patriarch Neophyte blessing and St. Sofronii icon procession.

Celebration in the Big Hall of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences started with excerpts of "Sinner Sofronii’s Life and Suffering" book, read by the actor Marius Donkin. The choir at the National School for Classical and Ancient languages performed “Dostoino est”. The celebration was officially opened by Prof. Rumiana Damyanova with the words: "Today, two centuries later, we still wonder where does this spirit of worship come from - the answers are given by Sophronii’s work and heritage”, she said. "Nedelnik” opening words are Sofronii’s code of honor: “Courage, wisdom, justice and purity”. Facing today, we continue to seek answers and I believe that our meeting today will find some of them." Then she invited to the tribune Vice President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mrs. Margarita Popova, Patron of the National celebration of 200th anniversary of St. Sofronii’s assumption, Prof. Nadezhda Dragova, a longtime authoritative researcher of Bulgarian and Balkan Renaissance and Honorary Chairman of the National Organizing Committee which preraped the celebration and Prof. Giuseppe del Agatha, a longtime President of the Italian Association of Slavic Studies, a researcher of Medieval and Renaissance texts of Paissii, Sofronii, Neofit Rilski, Aprilov and the first decades of the 19th century.

Prof. Damyanova gave the floor to Academician Stefan Vodenitcharov, President of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, who said: "We are here today to celebrate the anniversary of the assumption of one of the most prominent educators of our National revival era. Bishop Sofronii is a modern times person. His creative biography proves it: the two Vidin collections, the first Bulgarian printed book - “Nedelnik " - which opened the era of the contemporary Bulgarian publishing back in 1806, the "Grazhdanskoe pozorishte" collection (translated from the popular “Teatrum politucum” essay), the "Confessions of The Three Religions” book and, of course, his "Sinner Sofronii’s Life and Suffering” autobiography. Sofronii is a national politician from the dawn of the Bulgarian Revival Period, an emblematic figure of the 19th century. The task of the modern Bulgarian studies is to reread the work of Sofronii, to highlight his place in the cultural and political history of the 19th century, when Bulgarian national identity was created and approved, to reconsider his work in order to strengthen the spiritual foundation of contemporary Bulgarian society.

Prof. Damyanova gave the floor to Mrs. Margarita Popova, who said: “I am impressed by scientists’ professional skill and soul to organize a series of celebrations of great Bulgarian people who deserve remembrance and are milestones of today, inspire courage. It is an honor and responsibility to be among you, the scientists from the oldest scientific center of contemporary Bulgaria. Present scientists’ mission is to sequel the Bulgarian Academy founders’ efforts to revive the ideas of the most Bulgarian ages” she said and continued: “The clearly stated personal "I" makes Sofronii a Renaissance figure, part of a community who shared common ideas and sentiments, and a common destiny. He made contact with famous personalities of his time to protect Bulgarian interests during the Russian-Turkish war, met Paisii and made two copies of his “History”. Man with a mission to be popular educator and leader, the most typical representative of the transition to Modern ages, a man of two centuries - the 18th and 19th , the man of the spiritual liberation. To us Bishop Sofronii is a meeting with the Past but also a look to the Present and the Future, he steps into Europe with an open position for the future of his people, with compassion and care. In his translation of the famous Renaissance essay - "Teatron politikon" he apostolically expresses his belief that enlightened Europe’s model, educated Europe’s model is his, Bulgarian people’s model.”

Prof. Damyanova gave the floor to Prof. Nadezhda Dragova who in her plenary report, "Small Scientific Announcement for the Big Sofronii" recalled that Sofronii first wrote a school textbook on Paisii’s “History”. “The historical period loaded the two Bulgarians with different tasks: Paisii - to justify Bulgarian national pride, Sofronii – to organize political options for the national liberation movement. Sofronii not only copied Paisii, not only provoked new copies, but himself wrote the next chapter - "Sinner Sofronii’s Life and Suffering”, which exposes Bulgarian destiny." Nadezhda Dragova reconstructed Sofronii’s a biography through two newly considered biographical facts: "In Bulgarian Revival period science many talented scientists have invested much effort and today we have a broad vision – it may seem to us that there is nothing more to learn, but it is not so."

Prof. Damyanova gave the floor to Prof. Del Agatha, who read a plenary paper on "Sofronii and an Italian Milestone in the History of the Balkan Anti-Semitism". He followed the hard political work of Sofronii, combined with an intensive literary activity, a substantial portion of which were the translations of two works written in Italy: both Greek versions, translated by Sofronii in common Bulgarian language. The first was "Teatron politikon" (Teatrum politucum), the second was "Refutation of the Jewish customs and traditions" by Paul Sebastian Medic. Extracts form “Sinner Sofronii’s Life and Suffering” were read on the final, the National School for Classical and Ancient Languages choir performed “Mnogaya leta” ("For many years to come").

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