Home / News / News and Events / The Expanded Digital Scientific and Research Library “Zograph” Was Presented at Sofia University

The Expanded Digital Scientific and Research Library “Zograph” Was Presented at Sofia University

The Philology Library hosted the presentation of the third expansion phase of the Zograph digital scientific and research library. The new acquisitions of the library include six digitalized manuscripts from the St. Dionysius Monastery on Mount Athos and 20 manuscripts from the Troyan Monastery. The event was organized by the University Library and was part of the traditional Sofia University May Days programme.

The Sofia University Library Director, Associate Professor Anna Angelova, expressed her satisfaction that the solemn feast of the two brothers SS Cyril and Methodius was the occasion of presenting the most recent expansion of the Zograph digital scientific and research library. She recalled the fact that the library had been established with the efforts of faculty from the Department of Cyril and Methodius Studies; it was they who had conducted several consecutive projects jointly with colleagues from the Sofia University Ivan Duychev Centre for Slavonic and Byzantine Research and the librarians who had worked on the Zograph digital library as part of the University Library catalogue, that made the former widely accessible.


Professor Dr Habil Anastas Gerdzhikov, Rector of Sofia University, thanked all present at the event and personally the donors for their unfailing cooperation, the latter being a guarantee for the expansion of the digital collection. He also thanked his Sofia University colleagues for their efforts.

Professor Gerdzhikov expressed his expectations that there would be more readers using not only the printed collections of the University Library but also the digital part, which is constantly expanding. “Certainly, this is the future. Let us all contribute in our small way to it,” the Rector concluded.


The first pioneer research worker of the Troyan Monastery collection, Professor Boryana Velcheva, recounted her first hands-on experience with the Troyan manuscipts. She recollected how 50 ago she had just finished her PhD thesis on the damascenes and was working on the Troyan damascene. Professor Velcheva recollected how, with opening the first pages of the first book she had laid her hands on, she had realized that she had been holding an unknown damascene rich in excellent texts in Modern Bulgarian; some of them were vitae and some of them were sermons.


Professor Vasya Veselinova, Director of the Ivan Duychev Centre for Slavonic and Byzantine Research, asserted that the former institution, jointly with the Elena and Ivan Duychevs Foundation, have been maintaining close fruitful cooperation with the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, with many monasteries and churches in different parts of the country. Recently, the efforts have been focused on the region of Lovech and Troyan, and due to the encouraging stimulation of his Grace Bishop Sionius, Hegumen of the Troyan Monastery, the research team has managed to review comprehensively the manuscript collection of the monastery, some documents, the icon collection, and to work out a joint plan for future cooperation. The first stage is cleaning and reinforcing the manuscripts in order to prepare them for their subsequent digitalization.


“The major part of our work was the catalogue of Professor Boryana Velcheva and Professor Stefan Kozhuharov. However, while we were working on the manuscripts, it turned out that meanwhile more manuscripts had been acquired from nearby churches and they had been diligently collected and safeguarded by the hegumen, so that nowadays we can make full use of them and they are referred to in various pieces of research,” Professor Velinova added.

Having been digitalized, the manuscripts were handed over to the Troyan Monastery accompanied by a digital copy of each one of them. A booklet was prepared which comes as an appendix and explanation to the newly acquired manuscripts and to the existing catalogue. Thus, everyone working with the manuscripts on the spot can check the state of the collection in the pioneer days of research and nowadays, at the beginning of the XXIst century, and trace its development.


Professor Velinova expressed her satisfaction that the number of the manuscripts had increased with another 24 copies, the latter becoming accessible to the scientific community. Amongst the new acquisitions is a magnificent psalter, a rich source of Modern Bulgarian language data, translated into Modern Bulgarian by the famous Revival scholar Hristodul Sichan Nikolov.

The Director of the Ivan Duychev Center for Slavonic and Byzantine Research expressed her hope that new manuscripts would be found, digitalized and stocked in the Zograph research room. “In my opinion, this is the right way – preserving the manuscripts that have survived through the ages as a defense mechanism against oblivion, and with the hope that in the future years more manuscripts will be added.”


As part of the event Fr. Kosma, a representative of the monastic confraternity of the Zograph Monastery, presented his own special donation which the Zograph Monastery made to Sofia University and the University Library – the original copy of an icon by monk Methodius, the iconographer of the Zograph Monastery. The icon, a version of Deisis (praying), was inspired by a Byzantine miniature in its composition, colour and style. On one side of it is St George who presents his monastery to Christ, on the other is St Kliment Ohridski presenting his Sofia University to Christ.


“We are all people who use the word; we also study it. But God has created the world with its eternal Word. This is why the saints present to Christ the places which are venerated in their honour; they present these places to the eternal hypostasis of the divine Word, Jesus Christ,” Fr. Kozma pointed out.

According to him, the addition of new collections to the Zograph scientific and research library should be welcomed because it broadens the horizon of the sources that can be used to accumulate research information. This creates a broader perspective for the study of the manuscripts themselves and the study of the history of Bulgaria and the Balkan peninsula.


Fr. Kosma recounted how he, in the company of the librarian of the monastery, visited one of the most beautiful Athonite monasteries, Dionysius, dedicated to St John the Baptist. It houses some 1100 manuscripts dating from the IXth to the XVIth c., including the six Slavonic manuscripts. “We had the opportunity to make digital photos of these manuscripts and now they are present in the Zograph research room. These are manuscripts from the middle of the XVth c. to the middle of the XVIth c. – several gospels, two menaia and a psalter with a book of the hours,” he added.

In conclusion, Fr. Kozma stated that the Zograph room was a project aimed towards the future: “Our will is that this room should become bigger and include not only Slavonic documents but also manuscripts and documents in other languages – first, Greek, Wallachian, Arabic, etc. This should also become a centre for different scholars conducting their research, sharing their knowledge and experience in their study of the past, the history, and, first and foremost, of the spiritual history of the Balkan peninsula”.


The Zograph digital library was set up in 2014 with 286 copies of manuscripts from the Zograph Monastery. In 2016 the collection numbered 614 digital documents. The collections of the Ivan Duychev Centre for Slavonic and Byzantine Research, of the Central University Library, of Patriarch Cyril’s Library, of the Vatican Apostolic Library, of the Library of the City of Reims (France), copies of manuscripts from the collections of the National Museum of History, the Ivan Vazov National Library in Plovdiv, the Academician Yordan Ivanov History Museum in Kyustendil, the Dragomirna Monastery (Romania) were subsequently added.


For the three years since its establishment the Zograph digital library has become known as a unique collection that Sofia University can be proud of. The research workers are given opportunities to work both with well-known manuscripts from the presented collections and with new acquisitions which have not been studied and described yet.