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Mariya Gabriel in Istanbul: The Bulgarian Iron Church of St. Stefan is a symbol of patriotism, unity and a better future

08 November 2023 News

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Mariya Gabriel visited the Bulgarian Iron Church St. Stefan in Istanbul, together with the Minister of Culture Krastyu Krastev.

This year marks the 125th anniversary of the consecration of the church. The Deputy Prime Minister stressed that the church is a symbol of Bulgarian national unity, unification, light and future. Gabriel paid deep tribute to the patriotic Bulgarians who preserved the Bulgarian cultural and historical heritage and expressed hope that it will be preserved for future generations. The Mass, which opened the anniversary celebrations, was led by the Silivri Bishop Maxim and Archimandrite Haralampiy Nichev.

The highlight of the program was the opening of the exhibition ‘The Iron Church St. Stefan and the Bulgarian Memory of the Bulgarians of Constantinople’. ‘The exhibition brings together pieces of history,’ Mariya Gabriel stressed. The exposition also presents the role of the spiritual leaders of the Bulgarian people, Ilarion Makaryopolsky, Exarch Antim I, Exarch Joseph I – the champions of an independent Bulgarian Church.

‘With faith we can preserve our cultural and historical heritage, go through trials, and be better,’ Gabriel said. The temple preserves parts of the iconostasis and the chancel stone of the Wooden Church, as well as elements of the Iron Church from before its last restoration.

The Deputy Prime Minister also met with the Board of Trustees of the Foundation of the Orthodox Churches of the Bulgarian Exarchate in Istanbul and the Foundation of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church St. George in Edirne.

Mariya Gabriel welcomed the efforts of the Board of Trustees to preserve the Bulgarian cultural and historical heritage in Turkey. ‘You can count on the support of the Bulgarian state,’ the Deputy Prime Minister said.

‘By preserving the shrines of our history, by protecting our cultural and spiritual heritage, we can unite to build a future for the next generations,’ Mariya Gabriel said.

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