Who would not be astonished to know in depth the life of this holy hierarch, this great servant of God? Like a new disciple of Saint Demetrios, during times of persecution, he did not hide his faith in Christ, but revealed and preached the name of our Lord and Saviour wherever he went.
The future Vladyka Boris – zealous, respected and beloved shepherd, erudite, educator and patriot, was born on the day of Saint Demetrios in 1888 in the village of Gyatto, Bitola region. He lived modestly and poorly with his parents. When he was fifteen his father died.
The young man studied in the Constantinople Spiritual Seminary and in the Faculty of Theology in Chernovtsi where at the end of his studies he received a Doctoral Degree in Orthodox Theology. After becoming Hieromonk, the Synod assigned him a mission regading the Bulgarian community in Budapest. Later, he headed the Cultural and Educational Department at St. Synod, the temple “St. Alexander Nevsky” and after that was appointed a rector of the Sofia Seminary.
On the crisis in the Education System
In one of his most important works called „The Crisis in Our School” he underlined the major disability of the contemporary school:
“It pays extraordinary attention to the mind and completely neglects the soul. It only gives knowledge and produces virtually no virtues. It only develops the abilities of the mind and atrophies the powers of the soul…
Materialism and atheism and their offspring: socialism and anarcho-communism, which in our school grew to monstrous dimensions, destroyed almost all the supreme ideas and all the great values in the soul of our youth.”
The duties of the priests and the role of teachers
Canonically elected in 1935, metropolitan Boris took over the widowed diocese of Nevrokop. He was met with great enthusiasm by thousands of Christians. Almost immediately after that, he defined ten basic duties of the priests:
1. Above all, to know the truths of Christian faith and Christian morality, and live and act according to them.
2. To serve Divine Liturgy regularly on Sunday and festive days, and keep at the end of liturgy well-prepared sermons that do not last more than 10-15 minutes.
3. Once they have been fully penetrated, enlightened and revived by the great divine truths of Christian faith and morality, to clarify these truths to Christians.
4. To immediately establish at each temple an Orthodox Christian Brotherhood in accordance with the Statute for establishing such.
5. To hold talks to the brotherhood members and all the Christians who would like to listen twice a week.
6. To explain in lectures to brotherhood the basic truths of Christ’s teachings and more important events of the life of Christ’s Church for seven years.
7. To immediately organize children’s Orthodox societies for all Schools and Junior High Schools.
8. To hold talks for students in Orthodox Christian communities once a week for six months.
9. To teach church singing children in Orthodox Christian Societies and adult Christians in Orthodox Christian brotherhoods.
10. To prepare carefully for the sermons they will say in the Church, and for the lectures they will hold in the brotherhoods and societies.
In this message, Metropolitan Boris emphasized the importance of working with children. This requirement for the priests is a continuation of his struggle to preach the word of Christ in the Bulgarian school. For that purpose, Vladyka Boris sent a message to the teachers in the diocese inviting them to form Orthodox Christian societies at all schools, to take part in Orthodox Christian brotherhoods, to form church school choirs. To give their valuable assistance to our Church and our priests.
The new hierarch was always on his way travelling in the whole diocese, serving Divine Liturgy, and proclaiming the living Word of Christ. Meanwhile, he managed to build and restore more than 20 churches.
Lifting of the schism of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church
At this time the Bulgarian Orthodox Church was in a very difficult, dangerous state – under schism, for years being separated from the One Holy Apostolic Orthodox Church.
In 1932 Vladyka Boris was charged with a historic mission. He was appointed by Holy Synod to be part of the delegation sent to Constantinople on the occasion of the lifting of the schism of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Negotiations ended successfully on February 22, 1945 when the condemnation of the Bulgarian Church was lifted.
The “Conscience of the Bulgarian Church”
Vlayka Boris was called the “conscience of the Bulgarian Church” for his exceptional erudition (he was fluent in 13 languages) and the uncompromising struggle against atheism of the communist ideology. In September, 1948, he sent a letter of protest to the Holy Synod against the excesses of the communist authorities in his Diocese. As a result, he was declared number one enemy. Persecution began against him.
During these difficult days of tribulation, the activity of Vladyka Boris is increasing. He saved a miserable alcoholic who was about to commit suicide. He also prevented from suicide an ex-mayor of a nearby village who had lost his wife and his three children.
Vladyka was killed on the day of saint Demetrios
One day Vladyka came to his relatives and announced: “I came to say goodbye, because we see each other for the last time. At night I had a sign that my end was coming. I dreamed that fire came down from heaven, and this fire took me to heaven. I am going to consecrate the Church of saint Dimitrios in the village of Kolarovo, but apparently this will be my end. ”
On October 26 / November 8, 1948, he served a Holy Liturgy in the village of Kolarovo. The last sermon delivered on the day of his assassination contained the following message:
“Remember and always prepare for death. Remember your end and you will never sin! “
After the sermon, Vladyka blessed the festive meal and had not yet touched it, when he was called by a priest, discharged from dignity for stealing Church property and acting secretly as an informer. This person demanded that Vladyka return him his dignity and after the refusal in the eyes of a thousand crowd, he coolly shot him.
The murderer was sentenced to seven years in prison, but ended his days in an insane asylum, where he kept repeating: “I killed him, I killed him …”
The last poem published by Vladyka Boris sounds like a summary of his entire life, which he said resembled “a road to Golgotha”.
On November 8th, 2018 we commemorate 70 years since his martyrdom.