Holy Father Cedes a Church in Rome to Bulgarian Orthodox

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II will give the Bulgarian Orthodox faithful liturgical use of the church of St. Vincent and St. Anastasius, near the Trevi fountain in Rome.



The Pope made the offer to Patriarch Maxim of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church during his apostolic visit to Bulgaria last year.

In a statement published Wednesday, the Vatican press office said the inauguration was set for Saturday, the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Bulgaria.

The date "was chosen because of the devotion of the Bulgarian Orthodox community in Rome to these two Slavic saints and in order to commemorate the first anniversary of the Holy Father's visit to Bulgaria in May 2002," the statement said.

Nine members of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church are visiting Rome through May 27.

"Their visit will coincide with an official visit to the Italian government by Simeon Saxe Coburg-Gotha, Prime Minister of Bulgaria," the Vatican statement said. "The Bulgarian Prime Minister is scheduled to attend the inaugural celebration on May 24 as are representatives from the diplomatic corps to the Holy See and members of the Roman Curia."

"A mobile iconostasis, which permits the Eastern liturgy to be celebrated, has been installed in the church. Construction has also been done in order to facilitate the development of catechesis activities for the Bulgarian Orthodox faithful," the statement added.

"All of this has been possible thanks to a donation by the Holy Father and to a benefactor's contribution," the statement said.