The Niš Eparchy of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church 1915 – 1918


Ever since its establishment, the Eparchy of Niš which approximately covers the territory along the Morava changed a number of ecclesiastical jurisdictions, but for the longest time was related to the church organization of Christianity in the Bulgarian lands. For this reason, when in October 1915 Bulgaria entered the First World War, and the Bulgarian army occupied parts of Serbia’s territory, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (BOC) restored its jurisdiction over it. 

As temporary head of the Niš Eparchy was appointed bishop Varlaam, vicar of the Metropolitan of Sofia. Some of the Serbian priests fled together with the retreating Serbian army, while others were interned in inner Bulgaria, and still others recognized the jurisdiction of BOC. Along the Morava were sent also a few dozens of Bulgarian priests. 

The functions of the temporary head of the Niš Eparchy and his priests were limited to strictly religious frameworks, related to civil status, family and marriage relations and confession of faith, such as weddings, baptisms, funerals, and liturgies. Schooling was outside their prerogatives. For this reason, the Bulgarian military authorities played a crucial part and bore the responsibility for all that went on along the Morava in 1915–1918, while the role of the church was far more modest and to a great extent a decorative one.

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