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Following two decisive victories over the Byzantines at Acheloy (near the present-day city of Burgas) and Katassyrti (near Constantinople), the autonomous Bulgarian Archbishopric was proclaimed autocephalous and elevated to the rank of Patriarchate at an ecclesiastical and national council held in 919. After Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire signed in 927 a peace treaty concluding the incessant, almost 20-year long war between them, the Patriarchate of Constantinople recognised the autocephalous status of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and acknowledged its patriarchal dignity. Thus, the Bulgarian Patriarchate became the fifth autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church after the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. The seat of the Patriarchate was the new Bulgarian capital of Preslav although the Patriarch is likely to have resided in the town of Drastar (Silistra), an old Christian centre famous for its martyrs and Christian traditions.
After the fall of Turnovo under the Ottomans in 1393 and the sending of Patriarch Evtimiy into exile, the autocephalous church organization was destroyed. The Bulgarian diocese was subordinated to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Conditions for the restoration of the Bulgarian Patriarchate were created after World War II. In 1945 the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople recognised the autocephaly of the Bulgarian Church. In 1950, the Holy Synod adopted a new Statute which paved the way for the restoration of the Patriarchate and in 1953, it elected the Metropolitan of Plovdiv, Cyril, Bulgarian Patriarch. After the death of Patriarch Cyril in 1971, the Church elected in his place Maxim, the Metropolitan of Lovech, who is the current Bulgarian Patriarch.