Orthodox America

  St. Enravota-Boyan, Martyr Prince of Bulgaria

March 28

THE BULGARIAN STATE was founded on the Balkan Peninsula in 680 AD by a militant Turkic tribe - the Pra-Bulgarians (the "original Bulgarians"). It was chiefly populated, however, by local Slavic tribes which had much earlier established themselves in this region For the most part these Slavs were already Christianized. This Christian population was augmented when the great Bulgarian khan, Khrum the Fearsome (802-814), in the course of his numerous incursions into Byzantium, captured many Byzantine Christians and brought them back to his country as slaves.

      Among these captives was the learned Christian, Kinamen, who became a tutor of the khan's children. Khrum's heir, the pagan Khan Omurtag (814-831), whether because he noticed Kinamon's influence on his elder sons or simply out of enmity towards his Christian faith, tried to force Kinamen to take part in an idolatrous banquet. When Kinamen resolutely declined, Omurtag had him tortured and thrown into a dungeon where he languished for many years.

      Perhaps fearing that his elder sons had been influenced by Kinamon's Christianity, Omurtag appointed his youngest son Malemir as his successor. When Malemir ascended the throne, his older brother, Prince Enravota-Boyan, appealed to him to release Kinamen. Malemir consented and gave Kinamen to his brother as a slave. Soon thereafter, Prince Enravota-Boyan was inspired by what Kinamen told him of Christianity to ask for holy baptism. When Malemir discovered his brother had been secretly baptized, he summoned him and tried to make him renounce the "foreign God". The Prince declared categorically: "I am disgusted with the pagan idols; I worship Christ, the true Ged, and no one can separate me from the love of Christ." (according to the Athonite Patericon). Malemir sentenced his brother to death. Before his execution, the Prince,confessor delivered a prophetically inspired speech:

      "This Faith, for which I now shall die, will spread throughout the Bulgarian land. In vain do you try to stop it by putting me to death. The sign of the Cross will be planted everywhere. Temples to the true God will be raised and pure priests will purely serve the pure God. As for the idols and their monstrous temples, they will be obliterated. And you, too," he said, turning to his brother Malemir, "will forfeit your wicked soul, gaining nothing by your cruelty."

      Then the martyr bent his head and received a martyr's wreath. This happened about the year 833.

      Soon also Malemir died and, since he had no heir, the throne went to Presfan (836-852), the son of the second eldest brother, Prince Zvenitsa. Presfan's son and successor, Boris [In holy baptism, Michael; his Life appeared in Orthodox Life, 1985, #3.]  (852-889) acceptcd Christianity for himself and the entire Bulgarian people. Thus was the prophecy of the holy royal Martyr Enravota-Boyan fulfilled.

      We know nothing more about this Martyr Prince, neither the whereabouts of his grave or relics, nor if a service was written in his honor. He is only mentioned in the divine services of the day his memory is celebrated, March 28.


Popularly rendered as "Bohdan"

This Life was compiled by Bishop Parthenii, according to the Blessed Theophylact of Ochrid in his The Lives of the Fifteen Holy Martyrs of Tiberiopol, and from the History of the Bulgarian State, v. l, part 1, Sofia, 1938, pp. 332 337, by Prof. V. N. Zlatarski. It was translated by Borlslav Svrakov from Zhitia na Bulgarski Svetsi by Bishop Parthenii, Synodal Publications, Sofia, 1979.