Bulgarian Orthodox Church Patriarch Neofit buried at St Nedelya church after funeral procession

Senior Bulgarian Orthodox Church and other clergy, state and government leaders, a military band and large numbers of lay people took part in a funeral procession through the streets of Sofia ahead of the burial of late Bulgarian Orthodox Church Patriarch Neofit in the courtyard of St Nedelya church on March 16.

The procession and burial followed an episcopal liturgy and funeral service in Alexander Nevsky cathedral for Neofit, who died on March 13 at the age of 78.

An armoured personnel carrier towed the gun carriage – last used for such a ceremony for the funeral of Bulgaria’s Tsar Boris III – on which Neofit’s coffin was mounted.

The mood was sombre and respectful as the procession made its way from the cathedral via Oborishte and GS Rakovski streets and Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard en route to St Nedelya church. Since his death, there has an outpouring of tributes from clergy, from other faith groups, from Bulgaria and abroad, and from state and political leaders, and the affection in which he was held among the country’s Bulgarian Orthodox Church majority was evidenced by the large numbers of people who queued for hours to pay their final respects to him.

Those who walked in procession behind the coffin included clergy, head of state President Roumen Radev, Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov, Speaker of the National Assembly Rossen Zhelyazkov, Deputy Prime Minister Maria Gabriel, Sofia mayor Vassil Terziev, Vice President Ilana Yotova, Defence Minister Todor Tagarev and former prime minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg, as well as Armed Forces chief Admiral Emil Eftimov and other high-ranking officers.

At St Nedelya church, a military guard of honour delivered Neofit’s coffin to clergy, who prepared his body for burial. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who had conducted Neofit’s funeral service, officiated at a short ceremony.

Neofit’s coffin was buried on the south side of the church, near the tomb of Exarch Yosif. According to a report by Bulgarian National Television, Neofit had said that he wanted to be laid to rest in a sunny place, to remember the beauty of the world.

(Photos: Clive Leviev-Sawyer, and screenshots via Nova Televizia)

The Sofia Globe staff

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