Neophyte of Bulgaria

His Holiness
Patriarch of Bulgaria and Metropolitan of Sofia

The Bulgarian patriarch Neophyte just after his inauguration.
Church Bulgarian Orthodox Church
See Sofia
Installed 24 February 2013
Predecessor Patriarch Maxim
Personal details
Birth name Simeon Nikolov Dimitrov
Born (1945-10-15) 15 October 1945
Sofia, Bulgaria
Nationality Bulgarian
Denomination Eastern Orthodox Church
Residence Sofia

Patriarch Neophyte (Bulgarian: Патриарх Неофит, secular name Simeon Nikolov Dimitrov; born 15 October 1945, Sofia) is the current head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church from 24 February 2013.[1] Prior to his election, he was the Metropolitan of Ruse.


Styles of
Patriarch Neophyte
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Patriarch
Posthumous style N/A

After completing his primary education in the fall of 1959, Dimitrov was accepted as a student at the Sofia Theological Seminary in Cherepish Monastery, and completed his studies in 1965. In 1971 he graduated from the Sofia Theological Academy of St. Clement of Ohrid, and later trained in church singing at the Moscow Theological Academy.

On 3 August 1975, at the Troyan Monastery, he took monastic vows with the name Neophyte in a ceremony overseen by Patriarch Maxim of Bulgaria. The following year, he was ordained hierodeacon the same month an as hieromonk at the St. Nedelya Church in Sofia. From 1975 onwards he was conductor of the ecclesiastical choir in Sofia and in 1977 became a lecturer in Orthodox Singing at the Sofia Theological Academy.

He was ordained archimandrite by Patriarch Maxim on 21 November 1977 at St. Nedelya Cathedral, and bishop in 1985 at the Saint Alexander Nevsky Patriarchal Cathedral. Four years later he was appointed rector of the Sofia Theological Academy.

In 1991, Neophyte was elected dean of the restored Faculty of Theology at St. Kliment Ohridski University. He was later appointed Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod and Chairman of the Church Trusteeship of Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

In 1994 Neophyte was elected Metropolitan of Dorostol and Cherven. When the Fifth Ecclesiastical and National Council decided to split the Dorostol-Cherven Diocese into the Ruse Diocese and the Dorostolski Diocese in 2001, Metropolitan Neophyte became Metropolitan of Ruse.

At the church council convened to elect a new Patriarch on 24 February 2013, he was elected Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church with 90 votes, against 47 for Metropolitan Gabriel of Lovech.[2]

As Bishop

Between 1983 and 1990, Neophyte was a member of the Sixth Division of the State Security Service tasked with combating the ideological diversion created by the alias Simeonov. Sixteen pages of his personal file have been preserved, in which Neophyte was described as:

"Very religious, devoted to the church, Bishop Neophyte is formed as a conservative young prelates, supporters to keep the old traditions of the Orthodox Church. Particularly active events in expanding religious activities started after the socialist countries in processes of reconstruction and democratization, especially after the USSR held a celebration of the 1000 th anniversary of the Russian Orthodox Church. Began openly to advocate for full independence and non-interference of the state in religious activities and church government."

On 8 December 1985, at the patriarchal cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky, he was appointed second vicar bishop of Sofia.

On 1 December 1989, Bishop Neophyte was elected Rector of the Seminary, and after the restoration of the Academy as Faculty of Theology at Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" on 26 July 1991, he was elected its first dean. He held the post until January 1992, when he was appointed Secretary of the Holy Synod.

As Secretary of the Holy Synod and chairman of the church board at the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevski during the schism in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, he played an important role in the negotiations for the liberation of the occupied Synod Office.

On 27 March 1994 he was elected metropolitan, and on 3 April the same year was established as a canonical bishop of Dorostolski and Chervenski. In 2001, the fifth ecclesiastical and national council decided to split Dorostol-Cherven eparchy into separate eparchies of Ruse and Dorostolski, at which time Neophyte was titled Bishop of Ruse.


After the death of Patriarch Maxim on 10 November 2012, Neophyte was supported by one of 12 bishops present at an election by secret ballot for deputy chairman of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

On 24 February 2013, at the election of the Patriarch church council, he was elected Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church by 90 votes to 47 for Metropolitan Gabriel of Lovech.


  1. "Neofit of Rousse elected Patriarch of Bulgarian Orthodox Church". Retrieved 24 February 2013.

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