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The Holy Mother of God Church (Bogorodica) in Shiroka Laka

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After the Russian-Turkish War of 1828-29 Sultan Mahmud II started to implement reforms in the system of government of his realm by giving some degree of religious freedom and allowing the Christians to follow their faith more freely and to build churches and schools. The denizens of Shiroka Laka, Chepelartsi and Paveltsi were the first in Rupchosa to ask for permission to build a church. In order to achieve that they send envoys in 1833 to ask for permission to build churches. Next year the petitioners received the good news that they had been permitted to build prayer buildings. The churches had to be built on the sites of old destroyed churches because otherwise they would have been in violation of the Sultan's firmans.

They chose the place because they have been gathering there since time immemorial in order to perform spiritual rites, light candles or make an offering. The chosen place (the church remains there to this day) was right in front of the residence of Smail Aga, the Turkish governor of Shiroka Laka.

He and the other Muslims were against the idea of building a church at this spot. Despite that the whole population of the village gathered together and work begun at a frantic pace. When the keystone was being installed, Smail Aga raised his gun towards the builders and forbade them to continue the construction, but the Crazy Todor screamed at him "This village may move, but this stone won't move." When the Muslim saw this, they did everything possible to obstruct the work.

The denizens of Shiroka Laka send envoys to Plovdiv to complain and as a result a guardsman, who had the specific task to keep the Muslims in check and to provide assistance for the timely completion of the church, was sent to the village. The Muslims went to him when they learned why he had come to the village. He met with them but when he heard that they were against the construction of the church he became angry and reproached with the following words: "You disregard the firman of the Sultan. You will not only accept this construction, but you will also help your neighbours to build their church." "If there is a Sultan's firman, we will obey the words of the Sultan", they replied. After he read them the firman of the Sultan, the Muslims went home and never made any more obstructions to the construction.

Young and old villagers gathered at the building site and all of them started working. The building had to be built and covered with a roof in 40 days. The order was successfully executed. Men and women, children, old men and grandmothers - all of them worked with lots of love and gladly, because they were building what they desired the most and was most precious to them - a Christian Home of God. Stones for the construction were brought by passing them hand to hand from the Rupski Stone area, which was located 2 km away from the building. Thanks to the tireless work and the faith of the denizens of Shiroka Laka, the church was constructed in 40 days in 1834. It is 19 meters long, 12 m wide, 8 m high and the walls were 1 m thick. It has 8 six meters tall columns, which support the roof which is made of large stone slates. The doors are massive and plated with a thick iron plate in order to stop bullet penetration. The temple is surrounded on all sides by a massive stone fence 120 m long and between 5 and 10 m tall. The temple was consecrated in 1835 and is dedicated to the Dormition of the Mother of God.

church in shiroka laka the bell tower in shiroka laka