An official solemn mass marking the 40th anniversary of the enthronement of Bulgarian Patriarch Maxim is being held in Sofia's Alexander Nevski cathedral Sunday.
The official commemoration of the 96-year-old Patriarch Maxim's enthronement started Saturday, when the relics of the great Christian Orthodox theologian St. Maximus the Confessor traveled from Mount Athos to be laid out for veneration in the patriarchal St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov, PM Boyko Borisov, Parliamentary Chair Tsetska Tsacheva, as well as former Tsar and Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg are among those attending the solemn mess.
Patriarch Maxim was born as Marin Naidenov Minkov on October 29, 1914 and was raised in the Balkan Mountains village of Oreshak. He became a novice monk at the nearby monastery of Troyan before attending Sofia University, where he specialized in Orthodox Theology. He took Holy Orders in 1941.
After a number of promotions within the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Maxim was appointed as Bulgaria's Patriarch on July 4, 1971, following the death of the incumbent, Cyril.
In the 1990s, following allegations that Maxim had collaborated with the former Communist regime, the church split, with a rival Bulgarian Alternative Synod being formed. Maxim gathered enough support to prevent a complete schism in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.