Renovated Bulgarian Orthodox Church of Ferencváros opened

Hungarian version of the article: Átadták a felújított bolgár ortodox templomot a Ferencvárosban

October 22, 2020 at 10:00 AM

The renovated Bulgarian Orthodox Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius on Vágóhír Road in the 9th District has been inaugurated. During the ceremony a memorial to the Metropolitan Boris of Nevkropov who was martyred in Communist Bulgaria. The high priest of Bulgaria visited Budapest in 1931 and participated in laying the foundation stone of the church.

The MTI reports that the Secretary of State for Relations with Churches and Ethnic Minorities said that while the Bulgarian community may be small, its survival is important to Hungary. 

Soltész Miklós continued by saying that the friendship of the two countries was rooted in a similar past. Hungarian suffered at the hands of Muslim invaders for 200–250 years, while Bulgaria for almost half a millennium, and both countries survived almost 50 years of communist control.

He added that the church had been a guiding light for both nations. Bulgarians had been saved by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church for 500 years, and even under communist rule, they played a central role in protecting the nation. He recalled that the Metropolitan Boris of Nevropok was murdered by communists on his 60th birthday – adding that his memorial also reminded everyone of every Bulgarian, Hungarian or Central-European victim of communism.

The memorial to the martyred Metropolitan Boris of Nevrokop was unveiled during the ceremony (Photo: MTI/Zoltán Balogh)

Miklós Soltész said that the government continues to support the survival of the community and has provided 2,6 billion HUF in funding to build a Bulgarian Cultural Center near the church which will also house a Nursery and School for the ethnic community. 

Tamás Menczer, Secretary of State for Information and the International Representation of Hungary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs added that the friendship between the two countries meant "we can rely on each other." The friendship also means "that we think similarly about the central issues of European life", including the importance of Christian faith and culture. Mr Menczer added that the histories of both countries were filled with examples of those who kept their faith but sacrificed their lives in the process,

He said that "our heritage is also a great responsibility." Christianity and Christian-Democracy are today "under internal and external attack". They must be protected from internal, ideological attacks and external attacks as well, who hope to "carry out a worldwide population exchange."

Valeri Simeonov, Vice President of the Bulgarian National Assembly, thanked the government for its support and stressed that over the past years he has become acquainted with nearly all Bulgarian communities living in minorities but had never encountered a mindset, and a degree of government support as that found in Hungary. The Vice President added the five-year-old agreement, which named 19 October the Day of Hungarian and Bulgarian Friendship was important because Bulgaria had no other similar joint holiday with another nation.

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church in 2015 (Photo: Ferencváros Local History Collection)

Muszev Dancso, president of the Bulgarian Ethnic Government in Hungary praised the Metropolitan Boris of Nevrokop, recalling that he came to Hungary in 1915, a year after the foundation of the Society of Bulgarians in Hungary, and became the spiritual and cultural leader of the community, and became the leading figure of the effort to build a school and church for the community.

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church of Hungary is the oldest Bulgarian Orthodox Community in Europe. Bulgarians, who were most often gardeners arrived in the Austro–Hungarian Monarchy following the liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule, due to the economic crisis that ensued. Budapest, and especially Ferencváros, which at the time was the city's southern border, became a major centre of the many waves of immigration that took place through the 19th century.

The interior of the Church in 2019 (Photo: Ferencváros Local History Collection)

Several tens of thousands of Bulgarians travelled back and forth, spending only the summer months in Budapest. Later, many of them settled in Hungary. The community founded the Society of Bulgarians in Hungary in 1914, and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church of Hungary in 1916. Budapest donated a plot of land to the community for the construction of a church in 1930. The Byzantine-style church on Vágóhíd Road was designed by Aladár Árkay.

The government support the renovation of the church, its garden and the erection of the statue with 24,5 million HUF.

The Hungarian and Bulgarian National Assemblies declared 19 October, the feast of Saint John (/Ivan) of Rila, as the Day of Hungarian and Bulgarian Friendship in 2016. Bulgarians form one of the thirteen officially recognized ethnic minorities in Hungary, 6500 people indicated they were of Bulgarian origin in the 2011 national census.

Source: MTI

Cover photo: Renovated Bulgarian Orthodox Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius in the 9th District, on the Day of Hungarian and Bulgarian Friendship, 19 October 2020 (Photo: MTI/Zoltán Balogh)

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