Gabrovo, Bulgaria, September 24, 2018
The Bulgarian government will help to complete the repair work on the Church of Sts. Onuphrius, Damascene, and All the Gabrovo Martyrs, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said during a recent working visit to Gabrovo in central northern Bulgaria.
The church is very important to the people of Gabrovo, where no new church has been built in 100 years, according to Bulgarian Orthodox site Dobrotoliubie.
“Another 300,000 leva [$180,000] will be needed to complete the repairs, so the church can start having services by early next year,” Borisov said.
The government had previously allocated money for the same church when the Cabinet of Ministers gave 180,000 leva ($108,000) in September 2017. With the new allocation announced by Borisov, the government will have given about $288,000 in total to help rebuild the church.
The life of St. Damascene the Hieromarytr of Gabrovo is provided by the Orthodox Church in America:
The Hieromartyr Damascene the New was born in the village of Gabrovo of the Trnovo diocese in Bulgaria. He left his home as a young man and went to the Hilandar monastery on Mount Athos. Over time, he was ordained deacon and priest, fulfilling various obediences in the monastery. Later he was chosen as the igumen.
Saint Damascene often journeyed to various places on monastery business. One day Father Damascene was sent to Svishtov [Svištov, in Serbian], Bulgaria to collect rent from a Moslem on some property owned by the monastery. To avoid paying the debt, the man sent a Moslem woman to the room where the saint was staying. Then he and others broke in and accused Father Damascene of impropriety. If he was found guilty, he could be put to death.
The kadi (judge) did not believe that Father Damascene was guilty of the charges, but since the other Moslems had given false testimony against him, the judge had to find him guilty. Before taking him to be executed, he was given the choice of being put to death, or of saving his life by converting to Islam. The saint replied, “I was born a Christian, and I shall die a Christian; for to deny Christ is to forfeit eternal life. It would be madness if I agreed to preserve this temporary life in exchange for eternal perdition. I am sorry for you if you do not understand this.”
Seeing that nothing would induce the saint to deny Christ and accept their religion, the Moslems brought him to the place of execution. Saint Damascene asked for some time to pray, and his request was granted. After completing his prayers he made the Sign of the Cross and told them that he was ready. The holy New Martyr Damascene was hanged at Svishtov on January 16, 1771, and received an incorruptible crown of glory from Christ.
The wrath of God was not slow in overtaking the evil-doers, however. After they put the saint to death they got into a boat to cross the Danube River, and the boat capsized in a storm, drowning them.
The life of St. Onuphrius of Garbovo is also provided by the Orthodox Church in America:
The New Martyr Onuphrius, in the world Matthew, was born in Bulgaria in Gabrovo in the Trnovo diocese. Matthew became angry with his parents one day, and said he wished to become a Moslem. Unfortunately, he was overheard by the Hagarenes, who wished to take him away. He regretted these words as soon as he uttered them, and he went to Athos to the Hilandar monastery as soon as he came of age. There he became a monk with the name Manassas.
Tormented by his conscience, Manassas decided to suffer for Christ. Therefore, he asked the blessing of his Elder Nicephorus to pursue the path of martyrdom. The Elder tonsured him a schemamonk with the name Onuphrius. After four months of intense prayer, fasting, and spiritual struggle, he went with Gregory of the Peloponnesos to the island of Chios. There the Monk Martyr Onuphrius openly confessed the Christian Faith, for which he was seized and subjected to cruel tortures.
After the torture they beheaded him and threw him into the sea. He died in 1818 at the age of thirty-two.
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