Patriarch Maxim, the head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church since 1971, died in the early hours of November 6 2012 at the age of 98.
The church’s leadership, the Holy Synod, was due to meet to choose a temporary head of the church.
Maxim was born as Marin Naidenov Minkov on October 29 1914 in the village of Oreshak in the Troyan municipality, district of Lovech.
Unlike a large number of Bulgarian Orthodox Church senior leaders, Maxim was not identified by the Dossier Commission as an agent or collaborator with communist-era State Security.
His recent hospitalisation prevented him attending celebrations of his 98th birthday on October 29.
As tributes began to pour in to the late Patriarch Maxim, informed observers of the church remembered him as a moderating influence who was able to maintain a balance among various factions within the church.
He guided the Bulgarian Orthodox Church through some of its most difficult times, including the final years of communist rule in Bulgaria, the transition towards democracy, the years that the church establishment was challenged by an “Alternative Synod” and the exposure of former communist State Security people in the Holy Synod, the last-mentioned an episode that precipitated a loss of public confidence in the church.
In 2004, when he turned 90, Maxim was awarded Bulgaria’s highest honour, the Stara Planina first class, by then-president Georgi Purvanov for the Patriarch’s wise management of the church.