Pope Francis has given as a gift to His Holiness Neofit, Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, some relics of Saint Clement, Pope and martyr, and Saint Potitus, martyr. A longstanding tradition links Saints Clement and Potitus to Serdica, the original name of Sofia, with Saint Clement considered to have been the first bishop of the city. The ceremony of the reception of the relics took place on the morning of 27 February at the Patriarch's residence in Sofia, as a gesture of remembrance of the apostolic journey of Pope Francis to Bulgaria in May 2019. In his address [IT] conveying the holy relics, the Apostolic Nuncio in Bulgaria, Most Reverend Anselmo Guido Pecorari, recalled: "Holiness, greeting the Holy Father Pope Francis here in Sofia last 5 May, you spoke of that which united the Bulgarian Orthodox Church with the Church of Rome, while still not in full communion and within the diversity of their traditions", adding that "Saints Clement and Potitus are for us an example and an inspiration of defending the faith received by the Apostles in our respective lands". The Nuncio concluded by affirming that "these relics remind us also that Jesus has entrusted all of with the commitment to seek and to pray for the unity of Christians".
On his address [BU and IT], the Patriarch affirmed that "it is a great blessing for our Bulgarian Orthodox Church to receive some the holy relics of the venerable Pope Clement, as a symbol of the spiritual bridge between the Church of Bulgaria and the Church of Rome". "The witness of faith of the saints and martyrs of Christ is clear evidence of our good relations, which remain and will continue to do so in peace, understanding and mutual respect", he added.
A press release [IT] was released a the conclusion of the ceremony.
Photos © Metropolia of Sofia