Lay People Flock to Rila Monastery for Memorial Service for King Boris III’s 80th Death Anniversary

Lay people flocked to the Nativity of the Virgin Cathedral of Rila Monastery (Southwestern Bulgaria) on Monday to attend a service on the 80th anniversary of the death of Bulgarian King Boris III (1894-1943).

A guard of honour was there to salute the descendants of the king as they arrived at the monastery Monday morning, among them his son Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and wife Margarita, their sons Prince Konstantin-Assen and wife Maria, and Prince Boris of Tarnovo, daughter Princess Kalina and husband Kitin Munoz with their son Simeon-Hassan. As Bronislaw Chrobok, the husband of Boris’s daughter Maria Louisa, is celebrating his 90th birthday on August 27, members of the Chrobok family will be unable to attend the occasion in Bulgaria, the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas said in a statement on their website.

In the congregation were politicians and public figures, including Andrey Kovatchev (member of the European Parliament), Kyustendil Mayor Petar Paunov and BTA Director General Kiril Valchev.

The rites were performed by Mitropolitans Nikolai of Plovdiv, Antonii of Central Europe, Danail of Vidin, Serafim of Nevrokop and Rila Monastery Hiegumen Evlogii. An address by Bulgarian Patriarch Neophyte was read during the service.

“On August 28, 1943 King Boris III died under circumstances which remain controversial to this day. Following a large and impressive State Funeral at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, where the streets were lined with weeping crowds, the coffin of King Boris III was taken by train to the mountains and buried in Bulgaria’s largest and most important monastery, the Rila Monastery. After taking power in September 1944, the Communist-dominated government had his body exhumed and secretly buried in the courtyard of the Vrana Palace near Sofia. At a later time the Communist authorities removed the zinc coffin from Vrana and moved it to a secret location, which remains unknown to this day. After the fall of communism, an excavation attempt was made at the Vrana Palace, in which only Boris’s heart was found, as it had been put in a glass cylinder outside the coffin. The heart was taken by his widow in 1993 to Rila Monastery where it was reinterred,” explains.