Pope Francis Donates Funding for Basilica in Bulgaria's First Capital
Pope Francis has donated EUR 5000 for the repair the Great Basilica in Pliska, the first capital of the First Bulgarian Empire, Catholic officials say.
The donation marks the 1150th anniversary since the Vatican established relations with Bulgarianrulers back in the 9th century.
The Great Basilica was built between 865 and 870, as Bulgaria was undergoing a converstion to Christianity.
It was in these first several years of the convestion that Bulgaria maintained close contacts with the Vatican, but finally opted for Constantinople in 870, gaining the right to have an independent national church.
Pliska, nowadays in Northern Bulgaria, was the capital of Bulgaria between 681 and 893. The temple was destroyed by the Ottomans after the area fell under their control in 1388.
Repair works were announced in 2015. The activities in Pliska, however, have sparked controversy, with some historians questioning the methods of building "from scratch" by using large blocks that, some say, give buildings a "new" look.
Legend has it that it was in a monastery next to the basilica where St Kliment, a disciple of St Cyril and Methodius (who created the Glagolitic script, the first one used by Slavic peoples) created the Cyrillic alphabet several decades later that would be adopted by Bulgaria, Serbia and other neighboring nations.
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