St Petka

According to the tradition, St Petka or Parascheva (called of Epibates, of the Balkans, of Tarnovo, or Younger) was born in Epibates (today Selimpaşa; some texts place the town, likely by a mistake, to a certain Kallikratia in Serbia) to a well-situated family in the 10th century. She decided to live a contemplative life in the desert, and thus she did. When she was 25, she returned to Epibates, but continued to live by an ascetic lifestyle, and died two years later. Her relics became an object of adoration, and during the wars between newly emergent Bulgaria and Latin Empire following the Fourth Crusade they were moved to Tarnovo (likely in 1238), where she became the patron saint of the Kingdom. After the Ottoman invasion the relics were likely moved first to Belgrade (Novaković 1877) and afterwards to the now Ottoman-controlled Constantinople, where she was worshipped (according to the tradition preserved both in the Berlin damaskin and the official Synodal version of the Life) by both Christians and Muslims. In 1641 the relics were finally moved to Jassy in present day Romania, the site of an important synod in the following year. Her relics remain an important destination of pilgrimages of Orthodox Christians until today, especially on her feast day - October 14.

The hagiography written by Patriarch Euthymius of Tarnovo (†1393) also became an often copied text in the Ottoman-occupied Bulgaria, preserving the memory of both a popular saint and of the days of past glory of the kingdom. Outside the bounds of the state-sponsored religion, Petka's cult was deeply embedded in the spiritual life of South Slavic peoples, adapting many elements of the cult of Mokoš (Katičić 2011:213). Even today, the story of an independent woman, to whom kings bowed, retains its suggestive strength. It appears already in earliest 17th century damaskini collections, now preserved in at least 19 (Petkanova-Toteva 1965) editions. Multiple collated versions of the damaskini text can be found here.


Vuković 1536 - Žitie i žiznь prepodobnyje Petky

The first source is a small format collection of hagiographies, conceived as a handy travel book (Zbornik za putnike), collected and edited by a certain monk Moisei, published first in 1520 by Božidar Vuković in Venice. The Church Slavonic text is based on the panegyric Life of St Petka by Patriarch Euthymius (further transcripts of the original, prepared by Krasimir Berov of the Kliment Oxridski University in Sofia, can be found here). It was shortened and accustomed to the Resava orthography likely by the editor himself. The facsimile of the original source can be found at the website of the Matica Srpska. The damaged parts were restored according to the critical edition by Stojan Novaković (1877), as well as manuscripts NBKM 665 and NBKM 709 (cf. below) of the National Library in Sofia. The Life can be found on l.191r-200v.

source files - Excel XML (lat) XML (cyr) TXT

Tixonravov damaskin - Žitie prpdobnye matere našee Petky Trьnovskye

This source represents one of the oldest works of the damaskini tradition, written in a language close to the dialects of Bulgaria spoken in the 16th-17th century. The text has been extensively studied especially by Evgenia I. Demina, who published a three-tome work about it (Demina 1968, 1972, 1985) containing a full transcript of the source, and also led the production of a dictionary based on this damaskin (Demina et al. 2012) - now invaluable resources for scholars not only of Bulgarian language and literature, but also of a broader field of Balkan linguistics. The narrative of the text is close to that of Vuković 1536. The text can be found also in other damaskini from the era, being transcribed and copied even in the 19th century. The base dialect of the text has been often a point of discussion: it comes either from the Northwestern group (Mladenova 2007) or from the Western Subbalkan are (Demina 1968:75f). The orthography follows the Resava system, accustomed (though not fully consistently) to the phonetics of the early Modern Bulgarian. The damaskin is available online at the website of the Russian State Library in Moscow, where it is preserved within the collection of N.S. Tixonravov (signature Ф.299 No.702). The Life can be found on l.54r-59r as well as on p.94-98 of the Demina's (1972) critical edition. Cited as Tixon.d.

source files - Excel XML (lat) XML (cyr) TXT

Berlin damaskin - Slovo Petky

This source is a handwritten damaskin from Northern Bulgaria (Pleven or Svištov), discovered by modern scientists in Berlin in the late 19th century (Conev 1937). The language is an early modern variant of Moesian (Northeastern) dialects of Bulgarian, although they are now pushed out of the area (Miletič 1923:4). The orthography is eclectic, roughly based on the Resava system, but with the preference for ъ. The date of this document is a matter of discussion. Basing on the paper markings, the most recent analyses dated it to 1803 (Ciaramella 1996). The text of the Life is very close to Vuković 1536: omissions and additions in Tixon.d. and related texts are not found in this edition. It reflects a later, independent translation, a fragment of which is preserved in the manuscript CIAI 133 from Pleven, held in the library of the Church Archive in Sofia (for the contents cf. Sprostranov 1900:211). Both CIAI 133 and Berlin edition describe the fate of the Petka's relics after the Ottoman conquest. Berlin edition also includes an exegetic part, which is not found in any other among the available sources. The damaskin can be found now in the Library of the Jagellonian University in Cracow (sign. Slav. fol 36). The Life can be found on l.179r-185v. Cited as Berl.d.

source files - Excel XML (lat) XML (cyr) TXT

damaskin fragment NBKM 728 - Žitie (na) prepodobnaę Paraskeva

This source is a fragment of a damaskin found in Thessalonike in a copy of Joakim Krčovski's book Miracles of the Mother of God (1817). It is signed by a certain priest Jakov of Macedonia, maybe Jakov Sazdanov from Tetovo. The text is actually written in two fonts, either by two hands, or one part wrote in a hurry. The text is based on the Life of St Parascheva from Sophronius' Nedělnik (1806; cf. below). It is shortened and reformulated in a the scribe's dialect, providing a remarkable example of a precedent for literary Macedonian. The orthography is very simple, reflecting the trends, which became the norm in the 1840s. The document is preserved in the National Library of Bulgaria in Sofia (sign. NBKM 728), the Life can be found on l.7r-9r.

source files - Excel XML (lat) XML (cyr) TXT

other sources used for the collated view

NBKM 709 - a 17th century damaskin from Sliven. Contains a version of the Life very close to that of Tixon.d.. In the last part (translation of relics to Tarnovo), the scribe switches abruptly to Church Slavonic, using a copy of the Vuković 1536 text. The source has been provided by the National Library of Bulgaria in Sofia (sign. NBKM 709), l.30v-40r (Arabic pagination). A plain text transcript is available here: TXT

Ljub.d. - Ljubljanski damaskin: a 17th century manuscript likely from Elena. It is one of the first damaskini published as a critical edition by modern linguists (Argirov 1896). The edition of Life is similar to that of Tixon.d., with some modifications mostly at the lexical level (e.g. gemeџïa 'sailor' instead of korábnikь). The original is available at the National Library of Slovenia in Ljubljana (sign. Cod. Kop. 21), as well as online, the Life can be found on l.96v-103r. TXT

Ioann.d. - Pop Ioannov damaskin: written in Vratsa by a certain priest Ioann in 1788, containing an edition similar to that of Tixon.d., retold in the Slavenobulgarian language, typical for the school of Josif Bradati. The text is preserved at the Library of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (sign. BAN 3312). For our purposes, we have used the critical edition by B.Angelov (1958:100-104). TXT

Rostovski 1689 - Kniga žitïi svętyxъ, a menaion by Demetrius Tuptalo, Bishop of Rostov, published in Kiev in 1689. The Life of St Parascheva (the Greek variant of the name is taken over by PPS, Nedělnik and Xrulev as well) is based on the shortened CS edition (likely that of Vuković), with some additions (fate of relics after the Ottoman conquest) and amendments (relocalization of Epibates in Serbia). This text was likely the basis of the versions from PPS and Nedělnik. We have used the original print version available at the Austrian National Library (sign. 20.Bb.42.(Vol.1) ALT PRUNK) as well as online (p.583-585 in the online view). TXT

PPS - Pop Punčov sbornik: an eclectic collection of hagiographies, homilies and chapters from Paisius' Chronicle, written in Mokreš in Nortwest Bulgaria by priest Punčo in 1796. The source contains a very short summary loosely based on the Rostovski's version, written in a curious language likely close to the 18th c. NW dialect. The source is available at the National Library of Bulgaria in Sofia (sign. NBKM 693), as well as online at the World Digital Library (l.75r-77v of the Arabic pagination). TXT

Nedělnik - Kyriakodromion sireč Nedělnik by Sophronius, Bishop of Vratsa, was published in Râmnic (Wallachia) in 1806. While considered one of the first printed books in Modern Bulgarian, the language itself is close to the Slavenobulgarian of Paisius and the Bradati's school. The text of the Life (available on l.184v-187r) is loosely based on that of Rostovski, with an original prologue and epilogue by the author. The text is available online at the World Digital Library. TXT

NBKM 1064 - a late Greek-script damaskin from 1820s from Sliven, possessed (and likely written) by a certain hadži Gendo Vălkov. The script phonetically reflects a 19th c. East Subbalkan dialect. The text is based on the edition similar to Ljub.d., with additions taken over from the Nedělnik (fate of relics after the fall of Tarnovo and the epilogue). The source has been provided by the National Library of Bulgaria in Sofia (sign. NBKM 1064). The Life can be found on l.28v-40r. TXT

Xrulev 1856 - second edition of the Sophronius' Nedělnik, "corrected" by Todor Xrulev in accordance with the Bogorov's grammar. The text was published as Evangelie poučitelno in Novi Sad in 1856. Available online at the National Library of Bulgaria website. The Life can be found on p.256-258. TXT

The approximate relations between the individual editions are illustrated in the following diagram: full lines represent the use of a text as a basis for the following one, discontinuous ones reflect the use of a part of the text (partial influence). The relations between the old damaskini (NBKM 709, Tixon.d. and Ljub.d.) are unclear. It is possible that NBKM 709 and Tixon.d. are based on the same protograph, but we cannot know, whether it was one of the preserved damaskini or a lost one. In the same way, we cannot exactly determine the source of the modified Ljub.d. (as well as Ioann's) edition, although it must have been a source related to the NBKM 709/Tixon.d. type. The passages about the fate of relics after the Ottoman conquest in Rostovski's and Berl.d. (and CIAI 133) editions are also related, but it is not clear, whether Rostovski 1689 itself was used as a source.

Source data for all used annotated texts have been published together with other sources as "Annotated Corpus of Pre-Standardized Balkan Slavic Literature" at repository. The corpus contains annotated texts in a tabular text and CoNLL-U formats - link

Special thanks to Prof. Jürgen Fuchsbauer of the University of Innsbruck for the information about textological relations between the individual editions, as well as to Dr. Elena Uzunova and her team at the National Library of Bulgaria in Sofia for providing the scans of the source texts!


The text is provided in two versions: a Cyrillic version optimized for the BukyVede font, and a diplomatic Latin variant, based on the Viennese scientific transcription, extended to adapt Greek-script alphabets and orthographic pecularities of the damaskini. These include auxiliary markers "+" denoting words written together, and "_", reflecting words written over multiple lines. Accented vowels are reflected only in the Latin version of the text, due to compatibility issues. As far as possible, combined characters are avoided: accents, which would have to be combined, are written next to the vowel. See the full character set here.


The interactive text shows token-based data on the fly: its lemma (basic form), a morphological part-of-speech tag and (at the beginning of a sentence) an English translation.

The lemmatization of the Berlin damaskin followed mostly the dictionary of Early Modern Bulgarian based on the Tixonravov damaskin (Demina et al. 2012). Missing lemmas were added on the basis of the Etymological Dictionary of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (Georgiev et al. 1972), as well as Church Slavonic dictionaries (Miklosich 1865, Cejtlin et al. 1994). These were the basis for the lemmatization of the Vuković's edition as well.

The morphological tags are based on a specific Multext-East v6 scheme. Due to the transitionary status of the texts' languages (especially changes in the nominal inflection), the schema was adapted to reflect both archaic (i.e. Church Slavonic) and innovative (i.e. Modern Bulgarian) features. The first letter of the tag presents the part-of-speech category:

N - noun
A - adjective
P - pronoun
V - verb
M - numeral
R - adverb
S - preposition
C - conjunction
Q - particle
I - interjection

Detailed description of the further code in the tag as well as the transcription table to Latin letters can be found here (.pdf).

The interactive edition of St Petka's hagiography has been generated using this .xsl stylesheet by Oxygen XML Editor. Licence provided by the University of Zurich.
Produced as a part of the SNF Project ‘Ill-bred sons’, family and friends: tracing the multiple affiliations of Balkan Slavic (1.7.2018-30.6.2022; SNF number 176378).


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