Thousands of people met the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in the center of Bulgaria’s second largest city of Plovdiv, chanting “Russia” and accompanying clerics in their procession with church banners.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, who arrived in Bulgaria on a visit on Friday, earlier on Saturday met with President Rosen Plevneliev and Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.
Prior to arriving in the center of the southern Bulgarian city, the Russian patriarch visited monuments to honor the memory of Russian warriors who fell in the battle for the liberation of Bulgaria in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 and World War II.
The procession ended near the St. Marina Cathedral, where Patriarch Kirill was met by 97-year-old Patriarch Maxim of Bulgaria, who came to the city from Sofia for a joint prayer with the head of the sister church, as well as by Metropolitan Nicholas of Plovdiv and top city administration officials.
The patriarch wished those who gathered that God show mercy to Plovdiv and its residents, and presented an icon of Our Lady of the Sign to the St. Marina Cathedral.
In a speech in front of the war monuments earlier in the day, the Russian patriarch urged people to retain the idea of sacrifice in modern society, which, he said, is being ousted by “consumption psychology.”
“We are at a place where you ask yourself what huge importance sacrifice has in a person’s life. If people did not sacrifice, there would have been no great achievements or victories,” the Russian Church leader said.
“We bow our heads in memory of the heroes who sacrificed themselves for the sake of other people,” Patriarch Kirill told hundreds of locals and journalists near the Plovdiv war monuments.