145 years since the martyrdom of Levski

от: 2018-02-19 12:00    до: 2018-04-14 12:00

Why Levski does not look like politicians

The family

Vasil Levski was born and raised in an enlightened book-loving family. The name of his father Ivan Kunchev is among the sponsors of publications such as "Hristoitia" by Rayno Popovich from 1837, "Alexandria" translated by Hristo P. Vassilev from 1844. At home they often read and talked about the lives of Christian martyrs and their legendary deeds amazed the children.

The character

He was not a timid or contemplative young man. His famous classmate, priest Mincho Kanchev, tells how once, going with classmates for cherries, they saw two Turks trying to rape a mother and daughter. The other boys ran back in fright, while Vasil grabbed the rocker he had lost and hit the Turks. And we know how he could fight from the time of the Legion! We also know why - because his soul was early challenged on the subject of justice and dictated to him to defend the right of the defenseless. "To whom do these orphan's bloody tears in falls. Where they pour every day before God to deliver them from the dirty hands, which every day snatch the bread from their mouths and smooth the death! Their children are Turkish, the younger ones and their daughters are dishonored !!! Aren't these innocent our brothers and sisters !? Do you think we are leaving him innocent? No! Not at all! ”

The vow

Both the Apostle's contemporaries and researchers have always emphasized his "common sense," "critical sense," and "moral realism." Surrounded by such qualities, he must have discovered very early on that at the beginning of his century not only fugitives from dishonor became monks in Bulgaria, but also men of honor who really found support for their struggle in the words of Jesus: “Son He did not come as a man to serve him, but to serve and give his soul a ransom for many. 

How close is it to Levski's credo, isn't it ?! As early as the spring of 1784, one after the other, during a season or several summers, Ioan Bulgarin, Anastasiy Strumishki, Zlata Maglenska, Lazar Debeldyalski, Rayko Shumenski, Luka Odrinski, Ignatius of Stara Zagora, Akakiy Syarski, Onufriy Gabrovski, Jonah Tarnovski, Dimitar Slivenski as having endured monstrous tortures because they zealously defended their Christian faith in order to become moral victors over their Turkish judges. It is possible that he did not understand that holiness and martyrdom were a matter of human choice!

That is why he accepted monasticism - as an obligatory step towards a feat with which he could save the souls of his compatriots by strengthening them with a new example of firmness when he joined the holy army. The fact that he did not take the name of his mentor Basil (as was the order) but Ignatius is also indicative. He chose it positively not because it meant "fiery", but in memory of the new martyr from his region, Ignatius of Stara Zagora (hanged by the Turks after a dispute over the faith in Constantinople in 1814), when he later often reminded of his secret vow given to God during his monasticism. : "I have promised the Fatherland a sacrifice for his liberation" and "Such is my destiny - not to see myself in a great rank, but to die, brother."

The deacon

The original meaning of the title deacon meant servant - not just a certain hierarchical structure, but service to the brothers, to the neighbors, to all people, to all mankind. Undoubtedly, Vasil Kunchev also believed that his deacon rank did not deny his existence as a fighter for the freedom of the Bulgarians, since even when he cut his monastic hair to become a fighter in the newly formed in 1862 Bulgarian army in Belgrade - the Legion, - he enrolled in his new, now bloody vow, with his monastic name and position: "Deacon Ignatius."

It is remarkable that when he became a deacon, he first insisted on theology. In 1856 he entered the priestly school of teacher Atanas Ivanov in Stara Zagora and is remembered to have surpassed all in success and diligence. From the time of his studies there remained two notebooks with such diligent notes that scholars spent a long time researching whether these were things he had copied from theology books or whether they were his own theological work. As far as we know, even if there are quotations, they are transcribed creatively, with a mind that hesitated when it could interfere with the text. He then became a hierodeacon, and this sacredness, added to his ordination, he brought into all his subsequent affairs. Although he didn't point it out anywhere, he wanted to be known as the Deacon.

It is astonishing that even the official diocesan authorities appreciated the sincerity and depth of his religious feeling even at the time when he was already a fighter in the First Bulgarian Legion. Then the archimandrite Vasiliy, famous for his crooked character, asked the Plovdiv diocese to impose a canonical sanction on Deacon Ignatius for abandoning his office and interfering in the bloodshed. But the deputy bishop called "damned Basil" and ordered him not to persecute the Deacon!

And, objectively speaking, Vasil Kunchev had committed transgressions: not only did he sell the horse to his uncle (because he did not receive a penny from him for the years of service, he "ran at the voice of the people" to Rakovski), but also his robe (when the money from the horse did not reach the road to Belgrade). But the feeling with which he committed these transgressions was so pure, sublime, that the metropolitanate itself protected him!

"The villagers called him a simple saint"

This is a testimony of the national poet Ivan Vazov, his contemporary. And before he said it, the genius Hristo Botev entered it with the saints in the wall calendar for 1875, which he published for public use. More than any other man doomed to God, the Deacon kept his vows of chastity, obedience, and unrest (renunciation of material riches), whether he was currently a legionnaire, a teacher, a detachment bearer, or a committee member. Probably that's why we somehow strangely unconditionally distinguish him from our other revolutionaries.

Not only with deeds - he constantly emphasized with his words for those who could understand him that he consciously sought to complete the new Bulgarian secular set. "And in the Gospel it is said," he wrote to the Karlovo chorbadji Gancho Milev: "Man!" You have to work for your people to the death and sacrifice everything for them, I'm there too! If you die, I am crucified for you too! ” Even closer to something we will soon find out about his spiritual path, he translates us with the following message: “ "Purely the people's chilyak are fighting, until which time it will be time to save his people in advance, so then let him look at others!" If it doesn't happen, he must die in his people's work! ” This is how he wrote to the old voivode Panayot Hitov as if he sensed that as soon as the time came to embark on a viciously deadly battle for the freedom of Bulgaria, the legendary heroes would first be covered up. And he adds unequivocally: "This is righteous reasoning."

Levski lived as a servant of the Supreme with the unconditional faith that “he who does not fulfill the oath in which he swore before the Gospel, i.e. in his faith and honor, he is the lowest and most disgusting man in the world! It is better to suffer a hundred years of torment than to trample on one's honor and faith! Tomorrow is a day and it will be said to such: you are not honest, you are not a Bulgarian, you are lying in the Gospel as well ”.

The votive name

Like anyone on the path to holiness - just by the rules of entering the great scheme to reach the spiritual rank of a monk of the angelic image - he also adopted a new, votive name before taking his lonely path of martyrdom. But it still did not belong to an old mentor from the church clergy, because he did not have an earthly mentor. He chose to call himself a hero of the Apocalypse: "The Lion". This is a very special character from chapter 5 in the Revelation of John - exactly where the Almighty is looking for the worthy to open the seven-sealed book, which is the terrible secret of the future. It is then that the Lion, who is nominated as the only possible candidate, becomes the "Lamb slain" (that is, sacrificial!), And all the dignitaries present at the ceremony praise him with the words: "You are worthy to take the book and remove the seals. for thou hast been slain, and hast redeemed us unto God with thy blood.

"Lion"! It was "Levsky" that he signed. But his researchers, for whom his theological notebooks did not seem to exist, preferred to derive fables from ignorant people about his "lion jumps." And this was convenient at a time when the whole ladder of moral virtues was being replaced by revolutionary merit. And Levski himself very clearly and - it must be admitted - quite figuratively explained the essence of his revolutionaryism: "When a man is in the jaws of a beast, he must first save his life and then buy a fez for Easter." In fact, that's why he cut his deacon's hair, but he carefully wrapped it and handed it over to his mother to keep it - because he did not deny his vow before God, but took on a look that was convenient for the stage of his service. Otherwise, at least - as a deeply religious person - he would not have done it on the second day of Easter: on the most vowed Christian holiday!

Until his last hour he lived as a monk of the angelic image - denied all pride (although he himself had created the entire Internal Revolutionary Organization in Bulgaria!), Modestly, almost imperceptibly. After the emigrant committee in Bucharest forced him to be assisted by the former Garibaldi Dimitar Obshti and in 1871 the two had to urgently leave Hissarya for Lovech, Obshti insisted on walking with Levski only to the end of the field. "Because I am ashamed to travel without a horse, 

I rented a horse from Sopot for 54 groschen, "he said later. And he arrived two days before his "boss", who stubbornly saved the funds collected by the people. From his notebook, where he unconditionally recorded his expenses to steam, today we can see how modestly, how little he ate. Without being restricted by a mentor, without being hidden in a monastery cell, but as he was among the temptations of the world and busy with dangerous, physically very laborious work!

The secret of the holy gift

His letters from his time show that he saw the Case for the People's Liberation as a "Bulgarian deed" and therefore a "sacred work", so it is no wonder that he lived as a saint for it. "We give ourselves only to God and hope in our own arm," he wrote. For him, "Temple of True Freedom" is Bulgaria, so he sees the crown of the struggle as "we will offer once and for all the sacrifice of our national altar, in front of the altar of" Pure Freedom "His personal belief-rule is: “Purely the national Bulgarian, who has understood and sees the sorrows and troubles of our dear people, who has already felt in his heart the daily hot and bloody tears of our dishonored mothers, Brothers and sisters !!! From the tyrant! There is no fear for him, no excuses, and his death is the very consolation and salvation of the soul. Which death deserves our above-mentioned glory from the Bulgarian people and a crown from God. Otherwise, he is not a Bulgarian, he is not a Christian, he is not a man! ” And his ideal is: "To marry our homeland with (with) Golden Freedom!"

That is why Levski believed that "in order to win this holy gift, one must first sacrifice everything, including oneself." Exactly as in all his accounts he is in his credo: "If I win, I win for the whole nation, if I lose - I lose only myself." Guided by his true feeling, he always wrote a Bulgarian with a capital letter - like God! - and it is a sin of our soul, if we consider this illiteracy, so we correct it! In capital letters, as can be seen in the quoted texts, he also wrote the values he served and worshiped.

The greatness of the feat

 The mentors of the suffering saints were once recognized when a man was ready for his feat by his innocence, his humility, his firmness, and his fearlessness. The important thing (as we know from biographies) was that these precious qualities were clearly seen by the untempted, by the laity, by the atheists, even because they were a sign of exclusivity and steadfastness. It is remarkable that Levski's comrades have left us many testimonies of his exceptional endowment with such qualities - probably because they realized what they were talking about. "In general, he is completely incapable of expressing external delight and you can notice his enjoyment only by his sifting face and his satisfied smile," the writer Lyuben Karavelov wrote about him. "When we are in the most critical position, he is still as happy as when we are in the best position - adds the poet Hristo Botev. "It's cold, wood and stone are cracking, hungry for two or three days, and he's singing all the time." Duke Panayot Hitov added: "Levski was fearless, did not taste wine, brandy or smoke. The only thing he was passionate about was freedom and the old folk songs, of which he was a master singer.

Betrayed by all, Levski faced the imperial commission all alone. But he knew well not only the laws but also the interests that drove this court. Therefore, meekly, as if kindly, seemingly conciliatory, he became an accuser not of the Muslim faith, but of the institutions that oppressed Christians. Throughout, he defended the right of his people to live with dignity, in accordance with their faith and customs - rights "sanctified by God and humanity", guaranteed to him by the issued Hatihumayun (although the sultan had signed it, yielding to the great powers To save his empire). 

He talked about the weight of the people and how much they had benefited from the incompetent management - in this matter none of the jurors was better acquainted than him with the dissatisfaction "below". he knew that from such a rebuke the judges were already much more afflicted, much more deeply affected by his challenge, much more vulnerable to Europe, which was finally ripe for change here, in our lands and on the basis of these motives.

But whenever the court tried to learn something about the healthy part of the revolutionary organization, Levski literally invented nonsense in which he tried to devalue his own great secret case. When he was confronted with the conspirators who had already spoken, he managed to find out what the Turks had learned in order to save the unaffected by showing agreement with the names of those already betrayed. He vowed to be the redeemer of all: "My job is to alleviate the situation of the Bulgarians and I went around to give them confidence" - was his explanation for his activities.

Although the court did not take precedence over him for a moment, he was not tempted to take a heroic historical stance, but stood humble, as if he were depersonalizing his feat. But everyone saw that he was great and no one - neither the court nor the foreign correspondents of the trial - missed a single bad word against him. They felt that he was a man of another measure, of the great Cause. Probably some secretly thought that he might be a co-worker of God's providence ...

From the court - right on the road traveled by the constellation of modern Bulgarian saints - he received the wreath for his martyrdom: the gallows on February 18, 1973. According to divine tradition (which the Turks did not even realize), the place of his martyrdom was the usual for most Serdica saints: in the area near the millennial Basilica of St. Sophia.


In the memory of the people, a man like him would remain Levsky, perhaps without the court and without the gallows. But the path he followed presupposed them, and so he did not hide the news of the betrayal - to make equally equal the work of the fighter for national freedom with the feat of the saint.


Author: Hristo Bukovski