Solemn procession with relics donated by Pope Francis to Patriarch Neofit

21 Sep 2020

Following the donation of Pope Francis to His Holiness Neofit, Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, of some relics of the martyrs Saints Pope Clement and Potitus, a Moleben took place on 16 September to mark the translation of the relics to the ancient church of Saint Sofia in the Bulgarian capital.

After receiving the blessing of Patriarch Neofit, a solemn procession for the translation of the relics from the Vicariate of Sofia to the early Christian basilica of Saint Sofia took place with the participation of the Orthodox clergy. The procession was presided over by the Patriarchal Vicar of the city of Sofia, Bishop Polycarp, who warmly greeted the Catholic delegation led by Bishop Christo Proykov, President of the Bulgarian Bishops’ Conference. During the solemn vespers, Bishop Proykov read the message of Pope Francis in which the Holy Father underlined the “ecumenism of blood” which transcends divisions and invites all Christians to promote the visible unity of Christ’s disciples. Pope Francis reflected in his message that the blood shed by martyrs for the witness of their faith in our Lord Jesus is like the semen christianorum, the seeds of new Christians, which commits all of us who venerate their relics to express with the same courage our love for Christ and for our brothers.

Patriarch Neofit in his own message [IT] described the relics as a great blessing and a spiritual bridge between the Church of Bulgaria and the Church of Rome, and called to mind the relics of other common saints donated by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI in 2002 and 2006. Patriarch Neofit continued by affirming that the witness of the faith of the saints and martyrs of Christ is a clear proof of good relations, which endure and will continue to exist in peace, in mutual understanding and respect.