A saintly grandfather who devoted himself to raising money for Bulgaria’s Orthodox Church has died, aged 103.
Dobre Dobrev, often dressed in a black coat, walked long distances to beg outside Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia each day.
He raised around €40,000 for the cathedral and thousands more for other Bulgarian churches since beginning around the turn of the century.
In one of the EU’s most corrupt countries, Dobrev gained popularity through social media for his generosity and integrity.
There are several graffiti murals of Dobrev dotted around Sofia.
Bulgaria’s Orthodox Church announced his death and said people referred to him as a saint because of his “selfless service”.
“Let the memory of it bring us not sorrow and sadness, but joy and hope that in Bulgaria holiness and goodwill have not disappeared,” added the church’s statement.
Maran Ata, paying tribute to Dobrev in a blog post several years ago, wrote: “I had the pleasure to meet him and directly delight in his innocent kindness and simplicity.
“Kind eyes, pleasant smile, humble look … all that makes him bright in the eyes of those who have met him and without hesitation hurry to get a blessing from this sagacious elder.”
The church said Dobrev — who died on Tuesday (February 13) — had begun separating himself from materialism towards the end of his life.
He began donating to the church around the year 2000, walking or travelling by bus to Sofia to beg outside Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.