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  • Writer's pictureStefan Ivanov

St. Archangel Michael church in the town of Perushtitsa

Updated: Mar 10, 2023

Oh, pale Perushtitsa, nest of heroes, glory to you!

Eternal glory to your children,

on your ashes and on your grave...

Ivan Vazov

St. Archangel Michael church-monument in Perushtitsa
The last refuge

Forgive me, reader, if you have had the misfortune to read this!

Januarius McGahan on the Perushtitsa massacre

My dear friends, today I will tell the story about St. Archangel Michael church in the town of Perushtitsa - the last refuge of the people.

Its construction began in 1847 and ended two years later. Its place, where it was built, was in the very center of the village - by the river.

The old church of St. Athanasius was once outside the village, which led to repeated quarrels between Turks and Bulgarians during the walk from their homes to the church and back. That is why it was decided a new church inside the village to be build.

St. Archangel Michael was built entirely with donations from the people of Perushtitsa and consecrated on November 8 - Archangel's Day.

It was originally called Archangel Gabriel.

The old people of Perushtitsa know it as Saint Rangel.

St. Archangel Michael is a three-nave pseudo-basilica - without windows on the middle nave. The three naves are separated by stone columns, which is a rare architecture in the Revival era churches. That is why the church is very reminiscent of the medieval churches from the time of the First and the Second Bulgarian Kingdom.

St. Archangel Michael church-monument in Perushtitsa

The village of Perushtitsa was attacked by the Turks, descending from the Rhodopes village Tamresh.

600 people are imprisoned in the church - mostly women, children and the elderly.

On May 1st, 1876, after days and nights of utter horror, incomprehensible evil, and constant gunfire by the ferocious Turks, thirty-two people ended their lives by suicide.

137 people died during the April Uprising in the village of Perushtitsa.

The village of Perushtitsa then numbered about 2,500 people.

St. Archangel Michael church-monument in Perushtitsa

Nowadays the temple is preserved as a temple-monument - no more services are held in it to remain a testimony to those atrocities that took place then.

Today the temple is preserved with all its destruction.

This was the will of the committee, which was established at the time, and one of its tasks is to preserve the temple in its authentic form, as well as to build a monument to all those murdered.

The sarcophagus, which is currently placed in the center of the temple, was built in this form in 1965, along with the symbolic altar, replacing the main wooden altar, which was with icons of Stanislav Dospevski, but did not survive the fires.

St. Archangel Michael church-monument in Perushtitsa

To cover up the atrocities, the Turks collected the remains of the victims in a mass grave.

Today on this place - the fence of the post office, there is a black marble slab.

On April 27, 1911, the bones of the victims were transferred to the temple.

St. Archangel Michael church-monument in Perushtitsa

It is said that right there - to the right of the stone columns of St. Archangel Michael, where today the sculptural composition of Kocho, his bride and their child, depicted in their last hour, can be found, the events described by Ivan Vazov took place in those difficult but memorable times.

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