The Holy Nobleborn Equal-to-the-Apostles Tsar Boris, in Holy Baptism Michael
Commemorated on May 2
The Holy Nobleborn Equal-to-the-Apostles Tsar Boris, in Holy Baptism Michael: His Equal-to-the-Apostles exploits were foretold him by an uncle, Saint Boyan. The first years of the reign of tsar Boris unfolded with misfortune. The Bulgarians happened frequently to be at war with surrounding nations, famine and plague beset the land, and in the year 860 Bulgaria found itself in dire straits. Tsar Boris saw the salvation of his land, which dwelt in paganism, in its enlightenment by the faith in Christ. During the time of one of the battles of the Bulgarians with the Greeks he took captive the illustrious courtier Theodore Kuphares, who earlier had taken monastic vows. He was the first man planting the seed of the Gospel in the soul of the Bulgarian tsar. In one of the campaigns with the Greeks the young sister of tsar Boris was taken captive and raised at the court of the Byzantine emperor in the Orthodox faith. When the emperor Theophilos died, tsar Boris decided to take advantage of the favourable circumstance so as to take revenge upon the Greeks for his former defeats. But the widow of the emperor, Theodora, showed courage and sent a messenger to the Bulgarian tsar with the suggestion, that she herself was prepared to defend the empire and humiliate its opponents. Tsar Boris chose to have a peace alliance, and in sign of conciliation exchange was made of the captives Theodore Kuphares for the Bulgarian princess, who all the more swayed her brother towards the Christian faith. A while later there was sent into Bulgaria Saint Methodios, who together with his brother Saint Cyril was enlightening the Slavic peoples with the light of faith in Christ. Saint Methodios baptised tsar Boris, his family and many of the boyar-nobles. The pagan Bulgarians, having learned of this, wanted to kill tsar Boris, but their plot was frustrated by the tsar, and deprived of their rebellious leaders, the Bulgarian people voluntarily accepted Baptism. Between Byzantium and Bulgaria was concluded a peace, based on an oneness of faith, which was not broken until the end of the reign of the noble tsar. The Greek Patriarch Photios took great interest in the spiritual confirmation of the Bulgarian nation. In 867 preachers from the Roman pope were sent into Bulgaria, from which time over the course of three years discord prevailed in Bulgaria between the Greek and Roman Churches. A Council at Constantinople in 869 put an end to the quarrel, and on 3 March 870 Bulgaria was definitively conjoined to the Eastern Church, and Orthodoxy in it was affirmed even more. In Bulgaria were glorified the holy ascetics: Saints Gorazd (Comm. 27 July) and Clement of Okhrid (Comm. 27 July). Nobleborn tsar Boris adorned the land with churches and furthered the spread of piety, and afterwards in Bulgaria was established a Patriarchal cathedra-seat. In his declining years, holy tsar Boris withdrew to a monastery, leaving the throne to his sons Vladimir and Simeon. While in the monastery the saint learned that Vladimir, who succeeded to reign after him, had started on a path of renunciation from Christianity. Distressed by this, Saint Boris again donned his garb as tsar, punished his disobedient son and placed him in prison. Having entrusted the rule to his younger son Simeon, Saint Boris returned to the monastery. But he came out from it once more for the repelling of an invasion of the Vengrians/Hungarians. Holy tsar Boris, in holy Baptism named Michael, – reposed on 2 May 907.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.