Besides the crown and the bell the exhibition shows part of the church clothing used by Exarch Antim I, kept in the St St Cyril and Methodius Monastery in the locality of Klisura. The exhibition “Faith and Statehood” was open on 28 November 2013 at the National Assembly. It was curated by the State Archives Agency on occasion of the 125th anniversary of the death of Exarch Antim I.
The documentary exhibition had been opened by the parliament’s Speaker Mihail Mikov, under whose auspices the anniversary’s commemoration is held. Antim I will not be remembered as winner of great political battles but rather with his strong will and spirit aimed at the unification of Bulgarians of the Third Bulgarian state, pointed Mihail Mikov. He noted the exhibition gives opportunity to get closer not only to relics of spiritual importance for Bulgaria but as well as for its statehood. This exhibition, he said, must bring back to us the spirit of unity of the past. He described Exarch Antim I as a person who had transformed his life into ”a torch of the spiritual, revolutionary and statehood aspirations of Bulgarian people”.
Present at the exhibition’s opening were former heads of the National Assembly, deputies, clergymen, representatives of the diplomatic corps and the academia, as well as relatives of the distinguished Exarch.
The head of the State Archives Agency, Ivan Komitski, noted the latter shows documents and personal object of Antim I, such as his diploma of 1848, the earliest document of his career. The exhibition gives us opportunity to get closer to the person of a great Bulgarian, who left an unforgettable and lasting trace in the novel Bulgarian history. In conclusion he cited the words of exarch Antim I “ I would be blissful if my sacrifice could resurrect Bulgaria for a new, free life!”
The exhibition displays documents kept in the collections of the Central State Archives, the archives of Bulgaria’s Exarchate, the National Assembly, the Monarchic Institute, the town of Vidin’s State Archives, the personal archive of the cleric. It shows also documents kept at the archives of several other towns of the country, the Protocols of the sittings of the Constituent Assembly taken on loan from the St St Cyril and Methodius National Library.
The focal point is on the testament left by Antim I. His exceptional charity act – he leaves with his will, his funds and assets, to be used for church education and activities in the town of Vidin and the district.
Among the objects at display is also the parliamentary bell, used to solemnly proclaim the signing of the Tarnovo Constitution in 1879. The bell dates back to the 15th century and is a precious handcraft work.
There are also documents shown for the first time, such as a letter signed by the commander of the fortress of Vidin, during the Bulgarian-Serbian war (1885), Captain Uzunov, granting protection and asking everyone to extend help to the Red Cross mission, instituted by the Exarch and to his field hospital. The National Assembly’s archives contain a document, not made public until now, testifying that Antim I had been exiled in Asia Minor in 1877.