SOFIA, March 5. /TASS/. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia traveled to Bulgaria where he took part in the events dedicated to the 140th anniversary of the Liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 and met with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev. The patriarch called on the country’s political leaders to remember about the Battle of Shipka Pass and stressed that the history of Bulgaria’s liberation is written in blood in Russia’s history.
During the visit Patriarch Kirill and Bulgaria's Patriarch Neophyte held a thanksgiving service in the Church of the Nativity near the town of Shipka on the holiday of March 3. The church was built as a monument on the place of the heroic defense of the Shipka Pass in August-December 1877. Patriarch Kirill then paid tribute to the memory of the Russian soldiers and the Bulgarian voluntary army units (Opalchentsi) and laid a wreath to the Monument of Freedom on Mount Shipka.
"Visiting Shipka was the brightest page," the patriarch said at Sofia’s airport ahead of departing to Russia. "The Bulgarian people welcomed me with such enthusiasm! It was impossible to fight back tears when seeing this national delight which expressed the Bulgarians’ true attitude towards Russia, the Russian church and the great memory of the sacrifice of our people who liberated Bulgaria."
Hundreds of people gathered on Mount Shipka, carrying Bulgarian and Russian flags, as well as flowers and wreaths which they laid to the Monument of Freedom.