Legendary Bulgarian King's Relics Prepped for 2nd Funeral 800 years After Death

Society | April 18, 2007, Wednesday // 00:00

The relics of the legendary Bulgarian Tzar Kaloyan were anointed with chrism and wine by the Veliko Tarnovo Metropolitan Bishop Grigoriy on Wednesday as part of the preparation of relics' second burial.

Bishop Grogoriy also said a forgiveness prayer and placed on them an icon of the Bulgarian saint Ivan Rilski. He also threw a handful of soil from the one in which the bones laid before they were found in 1972 by the archaeologist Valo Valov. After that the relics were wrapped in a crimson shroud and placed in a special coffin, made of rustproof, nickel-plated steel with Tzar Kaloyan's personal coat of arms, taken from the ring found in his funeral. The only difference is that there is a third year inscribed on the coat of arms in addition to the birth and death, 2007, the year of the re-burial.

The religious ceremony took place in the Crypt of the regional historical museum in Bulgaria's ancient capital of Veliko Tarnovo. The relics were placed in the coffin by the head of the Molecule Biology and Experimental Morphology Institute, Professor Yordan Yordanov.

On April 19 Tsar's mortal remains will be buried for a second time in a church Veliko Tarnovo 800 years after his death. The funeral will be attended by the President Georgi Parvanov, the Culture Minister Stefan Danailov and other official guests.

When archaeologists first found the bones, they were kept in the Veliko Tarnovo museum, but now they will be moved into a special coffin, made of rustproof, nickel-plated steel with Tzar Kaloyan's personal coat of arms, taken from the ring found in his funeral.

The relics will be buried according to the protocol of a state funeral, as Kaloyan, also called by some western historians Ioanitsa, was the head of state and commander-in-chief of the country.

Tzar Kaloyan is the young brother of Assen and Petar, who restored the Bulgarian state. Kaloyan ascended to the throne in 1197 after both his brothers died in the same year.

During his rule Tzar Kaloyan managed to return to the state of Bulgaria the lands in Thracia, Macedonia, Transylvania and Moravia with his wars against Byzantium, Hungary and Serbia. In 1199 the Tzar received a letter from Pope Innocent III, who was hoping to add Bulgaria to the Catholic Church. Kaloyan answered not until three years later, demanding a king's crown and an independent church. In 1204 Kaloyan was declared emperor by Pope's messenger Cardinal Leo.

In 1205 the new emperor managed to capture Emperor Baldwin of Flanders and jailed him in the legendary Baldwin Tower in the Tsarevets Fortress, there leader of the fourth crusade spent the rest of his life.

Kaloyan was killed by his head commander Manaster in 1207 before the walls of Thessalonica.

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