Spring 2019–Winter 2020

Dream Monitoring

Surveilling the sleepers

Martin K. Dimitrov

Detail from a 1957 report by the Bulgarian secret police on dream rumors circulating in the area around the St. Ivan of Rila monastery. Courtesy State Security Archive, Sofia.

The following is a secret police report prepared in 1957 for the Chief of the Third Department of the Sofia Provincial Directorate of State Security. The report focused on religious activities in the villages surrounding the biggest Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria, which is named after St. Ivan of Rila.

Recently, a stirring up has been detected among the clergy in the district. In some villages, especially along the Rila River, religious brotherhoods have been formed under the direction of priests. The brotherhoods aim to collect alms to allow them to carry out activities like the reconstruction and repair of church properties, the celebration of various religious festivals, etc. They are organizing excursions to the monasteries of Rila, Bachkovo, etc. In preparation for Easter, they conducted a donation drive to support the Rila Monastery. A certain Asen Vladimirov Topalski from the village of Porominovo (38 years old, without party affiliation, with a child suffering from a chronic ailment) spread a rumor that he had had a dream that a calf should be bought and presented to the Rila Monastery. After his wife started collecting donations, the rumor circulated to other villages along the Rila River. The rumor escalated to the extent where citizens started to comment that unless donations were collected, the second day of Easter would bring about floods and war. Once the money was gathered, the calf was bought for 1,500 leva in the village of Rila and sent to the monastery. The calf was purchased from Stefan G. Liutov (a member of the former Tsankov opposition party, currently without party affiliation, harboring a hostile attitude toward the government, 60 years old, in private agribusiness) and from Kiril Lazov Kalaidzhiiski (without party affiliation, highly religious, member of the village cooperative farm, 65 years old).

As of 15 April 1957, rumors were being spread in the village of Sapareva Bania that the first day of Easter would be full of merriment and celebrations, but that something very interesting would take place on the second and third days and the communists would step down from power. At the same time, two villagers from Sapareva Bania (Vladimir Kmetski and Evlogi Ovcharov, both religious and neither of them a member of the communist party) started to gather money and eggs to help St. Ivan of Rila, because Kmetski’s wife had had a dream that the saint was unwell and donations to help him had to be collected. Spas Chuchuganov, who is not a communist party member and harbors a hostile attitude toward the government, brought the donations to the Rila Monastery. Mikhail Apostolov, a priest under our surveillance (from the village of Ovchartsi), is actively distributing religious literature to students between 10 and 14 years of age. Recently, party members from the village of Delian confiscated six of those books. …

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