The Bulgarian Orthodox Church on May 10 celebrated the anniversary of the restoration of the Bulgarian Patriarchate, whose existence ceased at the end of the XIV century, when Bulgaria fell under five centuries of Turkish slavery.
Already in the Renaissance, purposeful actions of Bulgarian church leaders began to restore the Bulgarian Patriarchate. The first step towards this was the establishment in 1870 of the Bulgarian Exarchate with its seat in Constantinople.
After the end of World War II, Bulgaria had the opportunity to spend the remaining 30 years without a permanent head of the Bulgarian Exarchate. On February 22, 1945, with the help of the sisters of the Orthodox Church, the schism was eliminated, which for several decades had hindered normal inter-church relations of the Exarchate. The Patriarchate of Constantinople recognized the autocephaly of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church as a special tomos.
In 1950, the Charter of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church was developed, in Article 1, the "self-governing Bulgarian Orthodox Church" is called the "Patriarchate".
At its meeting on January 3, 1953, the Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church decided "to convene a Church-People's Assembly on May 8 this year to restore the patriarchal dignity of the Native Church and elect a Primate-Patriarch."
Delegations of the following Orthodox Churches arrived in Sofia for this great church-people's celebration: Russian, led by Metropolitan Gregory of Leningrad (St. Petersburg) and Novgorod; Romanian, led by Patriarch Justinian; Polish, led by Primate Metropolitan Macarius; Czechoslovakia, led by Metropolitan Eleffery. The Churches of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Georgia, Serbia and Greece also took part in the celebration through their representatives or through telegraphic and written greetings.
The Third Church-People's Council, convened according to the Statute (May 8-10), restored the patriarchal status of the Bulgarian Church and on May 10 elected His Eminence Metropolitan Kirill of Plovdiv as Deputy Chairman of the Holy Synod and Chairman of the Patriarch of Bulgaria and Metropolitan of Sofia.
The enthronement took place immediately after the election of the memorial church of St. Alexander Nevsky in the Patriarchal Cathedral in the presence of representatives of the state and cultural community, foreign delegations and numerous believers.
The newly restored Bulgarian Patriarchate is recognized by all Orthodox churches. Its primate establishes a living connection with them through mutual fraternal messages and visits. With his first priestly, church-educational, pastoral and scientific activities, he became widely known in the Christian world, among the broad cultural community of the country and abroad. The prestige of the Bulgarian Church is growing both among Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christian churches and organizations, as well as among the world community.
After the blessed death of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill (March 7, 1971), Bulgarian Patriarch Maxim became his worthy deputy, who remained the longest-ruling Bulgarian Patriarch in our modern church history.
On February 24, 2013, Metropolitan Neophyte of Rusen was elected Bulgarian Patriarch at the Patriarchal Electoral Church Council.