Liturgy served in 17th century bulgarian church for first time in 70 years

The Bulgarian Orthodox faithful of the village of Arbanasi in Veliko Tarnovo Municipality in the north-central Veliko Tarnovo Province have cause for great celebration as their Church of St. Athanasius the Great reopened recently, with the Divine Liturgy being celebrated there for the first time in 70 years.

The Church of St. Athanasius is one of five unique medieval churches in Arbanasi, explains Fr. Cyprian, who has served in the village for more than 20 years. However, on Saturday, January 18, the feast of St. Athanasius the Great, he entered the church for the first time, as there had been no services there for so many decades.

“The district governor of Gorna Oryahovitsa sent a subordinate officer to collect the keys to the five churches in Arbanasi. There have been no services since then in those churches,” says Fr. Cyprian.

The church is now a national cultural monument, owned by the state. An agreement was reached between the municipality, the Museum of History, and His Eminence Metropolitan Gregory of Veliko Tarnovo reached an agreement to restore services in the churches.

Starting this year, services will be held in all the medieval churches in Arbanasi on their patronal feast days.

The church was built in 1677, with frescoes painted by a Greek iconographer. It was restored in the 1970s. Arbanasi is a traditional settlement with numerous monuments and medieval Orthodox chapels financed by lucrative trading throughout the Ottoman Empire.

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