Patriarch Neofit of Bulgaria laid to rest (+VIDEO)

Sofia, March 18, 2024

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His Holiness Patriarch Neofit of Bulgaria was laid to rest in Sofia on Saturday, March 16.

The Bulgarian primate reposed in the Lord on March 13 at the age of 78 following a long illness. Condolences were received from around the Orthodox world, expressing a great sense of loss at the repose of Pat. Neofit.

Starting on Friday, March 15, the Bulgarian faithful paid their respects to their departed Patriarch at St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in the capital as priests from the Sofia Diocese read the Gospel over his body. President Rumen Radev and other state officials also arrived to bid farewell to His Holiness.

On Saturday, March 16, the hierarchs, clergy, monastics, and laity were joined by delegations from the Local Churches for the funeral Liturgy and funeral of Pat. Neofit. The Liturgy was celebrated by His Eminence Metropolitan John of Varna and Veliky Preslav, the hierarchs of the Bulgarian Church, and Bulgarian and Romanian clergy.

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Delegations from the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Russia, Georgia, Serbia, and Romania and the Churches of Cyprus, Greece, Albania, and Macedonia were present.

Also present were “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko and “Archbishop” Evstraty Zorya of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” who arrived together with Pat. Bartholomew, though the Bulgarian hierarch Met. John of Varna specified that they were not invited, inasmuch as the Bulgarian Church has never recognized the OCU.

The OCU representatives did not serve, and in the Bulgarian Church’s report, Dumenko is listed with other non-Orthodox attendees.

The funeral was also attended by Tsar Simeon II, President Radev, and other public officials.

Before Holy Communion, Met. John of Varna offered a word about the departed Patriarch, saying: “With broken hearts, with great pain and deep sorrow and sadness, but also with unfailing faith and hope in our Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation He has given us, we send our Most Holy Father and Patriarch Neofit on his last earthly journey today.”

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He continued:

We bow before the spiritual greatness and purity of his bright personality and from the depths of our hearts, we thank the Almighty God for bestowing upon us the honor and joy of having him among us as our spiritual guide on our path as humans and Christians. We experience our earthly separation from him heavily and painfully, but we also believe that from now on, our Orthodox people have—in His Holiness—one more fervent intercessor and warm advocate before the throne of God, who in eternal life will continue to intercede for his flock, to desire and beg God’s mercy and love, gracious help and protection for our Orthodox Church, for our earthly homeland, and personally for each one of us.

Following the Divine Liturgy, the funeral was led by Patriarch Bartholomew, with the Bulgarian hierarchs and clergy and visiting delegations.

Pat. Bartholomew also offered a word, saying: “We are sending a man of God who, with perseverance in faith, devoted his whole life to the Conqueror of death, to our Lord Jesus Christ and to the service of His Church!”

Watch the funeral service below:

Upon conclusion of the funeral, the body of Pat. Neofit was carried in procession to the Cathedral of St. Nedelya in Sofia, where he was buried next to the grave of the Exarch Joseph (†1915), according to Pat. Neofit’s own wish.

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The square in front of the cathedral was filled with clergy and laity singing “Christ is Risen” and “Memory eternal.”

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