Friday, June 3, 2011

Metropolitan Cyril of Vidin

Joyous feast! Today is the 97th anniversary of the repose of Metropolitan Cyril (Stoichkov) of Vidin of blessed memory, who served in the newly restored Bulgarian Orthodox Church in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Born in what is now northwestern Bulgaria, as a young man Metropolitan Cyril became a monk at the Chiprovtsi Monastery of St. John of Rila and while there was tonsured a monk and ordained to the deaconate. At age 26 the Monastery sent the young Hierodeacon Cyril to the theological seminary in Sremski Karlovci maintained by the Orthodox Church of Austria-Hungary.

While in Austria-Hungary the future metropolitan became involved in the general movement amongst Bulgarians towards the restoration of autocephaly and the replacement of the many Greek-speaking hierarchs in Ottoman Bulgaria with Bulgarians. Consequently, after completing his studies and returning to Bulgaria the Metropolitan of Vidin, a Greek, reported Fr. Dn. Cyril to the Ottoman authorities, who arrested him and eventually exiled him to central Anatolia for his nationalism.

After 3 years of exile Fr. Dn. Cyril was released and assigned to a parish in the northeastern Wallachian city of Tulcea (now in Romania), where he was ordained a priest and eventually raised to the rank of archimandrite and assigned a parish in the city of Silistra (on the border of modern day Bulgaria and Romania).

When the Bulgarian Orthodox Church regained its autocephaly as an exarchate Fr. Cyril was actively involved in its local and national life, serving first in Silistra and then in Vidin and Skopje, where he was eventually elected Metropolitan of Skopje in 1875. When the Russo-Turkish War began Metropolitan Cyril was forced into internal exile, eventually in 1891 being elected Metropolitan of Vidin in northwestern Bulgaria.

Metropolitan Cyril was distinguished in his service as Metropolitan of Vidin for his work in improving the life of both his parishes and his clergy and became especially known for his strict standards for his clergy. Nationally he was a key figure in the development of the educational work of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, playing a particularly important role in helping to finance the construction of the compound of the theological seminary in Sofia.

The last years of Metropolitan Cyril's life were spent in seclusion and prayer. He eventually reposed on 21 May (old style), 1914, in Vidin and was buried on the grounds of the diocesan Cathedral of St. Demetrius the Great-Martyr. More (in Bulgarian) on Metropolitan Cyril's life can be found here. May his memory be eternal!

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