Metropolitan Nahum of Rousse commented on the incident with the closed church “St. Nicholas” in Sofia, known as the Russian Church.
Here’s what he wrote on his social media profile:
“Regarding inquiries addressed to us about the status of the temple “St. Nikolay Mirlikiyski” in Sofia, known as the “Russian Church”, we would like to share with the public audience the following information we have about this house of prayer.
The temple was built with the blessing of St. Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church as a legation church (1914), located in the common yard of the then Russian Legation, located on the corner of Rakovski Street and Moskovska Street.
It was consecrated on November 11, 1914 by our long-remembered predecessor and then presiding Saint. Synod in Sofia Dorostolsky and Chervensky Metropolitan Basil (1847-1927), and no Russian bishops participated in the service, because of the schism in which the BOC was.
We remind you that Russian bishops did not participate in the consecration of the memorial church in the village of Shipka in 1902 for the same reasons.
After 1917, the temple “St. Nicholas” served the liturgical needs of the Russian emigration in Sofia, led by archbishop. Serafim Sobolev, and from 1936, at the insistence of the Soviet government, the church was taken from the Russian emigrants and handed over to the Bulgarian government, which in turn handed it over to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, under the omophorion of the Metropolitan of Sofia (1).
In 1944, the temple was badly damaged, and in 1945/1946 it was restored by the Sofia Metropolis, and in the following years, various Bulgarian ephemeral priests were appointed there, and together with them, Russian clergymen, white emigrants, permanently residing in our country after the October Revolution.
According to the decision of St. Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church of November 10, 1952, prot. No. 8, all other Russian Orthodox parishes, monasteries and clergy in Bulgaria, pass into the jurisdiction and possession of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (2).
Again by decision of the Russian Orthodox Church, in November 1953 in the former legation church “St. Nikolay” in Sofia is an open courtyard with representative functions, as the ephemera in it continue to be appointed by the Sofia Metropolis, and the Russian Church begins to periodically send its official representative.
In 1977, further restoration works were completed, and in 1981, on the occasion of the celebration of 1300 years since the foundation of the Bulgarian state, the interior of the church was also gilded (3).
In recent years, the Bulgarian ephemeral priests, for reasons unclear to us, were successively removed from this temple, which is fundamentally absurd, due to the fact that its functions are only representative in nature. And accordingly, his material property cannot be considered Russian, because of the above, just as the BOC cannot claim that the temple-courtyard in Moscow is Bulgarian property, since the nature of the two courtyards is reciprocal.
We believe that the closing of the temple “St. Nicholas” by outsiders is inadmissible, as it follows that the Metropolitan of Sofia should immediately order that it be opened, and that services in it be restored in a timely manner.
1. BOC from the Liberation to the present time, Sofia University Yearbook, volume 16/6 of 1938/1939, pp. 183, 191.
2. Protocol of St. Synod, full composition, No. 16/25.06.1953, § 5.
3. “Church Gazette”, no. 3/21.01.1984, p. 4.”