Bulgarian Orthodox Patriarch Maxim Celebrates 96th Birthday
His Holiness Patriarch Maxim celebrates his 96th birthday Friday, receiving congratulations from high officials.
As usual, the Patriarch spends his birthday in the Troyan Monastery, where he began his spiritual path.
"Bowing down before your longevity, I would like to convey my special greetings for your long standing ecclesiastical service and for your efforts in upholding the original Christian truths," wrote Boyko Borisov, Bulgarian Prime Minister.
Parliamentary speaker Tsetska Tsacheva also congratulated Maxim, wishing him good health and continued efforts to keep faith alive.
Patriarch Maxim was born as Marin Naidenov Minkov on October 29, 1914 and was raised in the Balkan Mountains village of Oreshak. He became a novice monk at the nearby monastery of Troyan before attending Sofia University, where he specialized in Orthodox Theology. He took Holy Orders in 1941.
After a number of promotions within the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Maxim was appointed as Bulgaria's Patriarch on July 4, 1971, following the death of the incumbent, Cyril.
Despite the atmosphere of persecution under Todor Zhivkov, Maxim succeeded in defending the church, partly because of support from members of the Politburo.
In the 1990s, following allegations that Maxim had collaborated with the former Communist regime, the church split, with a rival Bulgarian Alternative Synod being formed. Maxim gathered enough support to prevent a complete schism in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
Maxim descends from a family with a significant percentage of members, who have reached an age of at least 100 years.
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