Christo Jivkov, who portrayed St. John in “The Passion of the Christ,” died on Fri., March 31 at age 48 in Los Angeles.

The actor, who was born on Feb. 18, 1975 in Sofia, Bulgaria, specialized in film directing at the Bulgarian Academy of Film and Theater. He faced a long battle with lung cancer, according to Red Carpet Films, the Bulgarian film production company he co-founded.

Jivkov’s date of death also coincides with the Friday of Sorrows, or the feast of the seven sorrows of Our Lady, on the Traditional Roman Calendar.

Mel Gibson responds after actor who portrayed St. John in “The Passion of Christ” dies

“My dear friend Christo has lost his heroic battle with cancer. Right to the last moment, he was filled with hope and his spirit was strong,” Mel Gibson said, according to Deadline.

“I’ll miss him, but I know his suffering is over and he has eternal bliss. God keep him.“

Red Carpet Films also published an announcement on its Facebook page:

“Today we lost our beloved friend and dear colleague Christo Jivkov, co-founder of ‘Red Carpet,'” the post reads. “Wе are truly devastated by this untimed loss. We will never forget you!”

Jivkov was again cast as St. John in The Passion of the Christ: Resurrection, which is scheduled for production in spring of 2023.

The Passion of Christ: Resurrection

Mel Gibson confirmed the work-in-progress sequel in an April 2022 interview,

“Well, it’s a huge topic, and it’s not a linear narrative, so, for it to mean something and resonate with almost anyone who sees it (…) you have to juxtapose the central event that I’m trying to tell with everything else to around you in the future, in the past and in other realms, and that’s like pulling out a bit of science fiction,” Gibson said.

“It’s a great story. It’s a difficult concept, and it’s taken me a long time to focus and find a way to tell that story in a way that really resonates with someone who may not know anything about the core story,” he added.

“Well,  I have two scripts,” he stressed. “They’re both good.”

In 2020, Mel Gibson specified that the film will cover a short period: three days – from 3 p.m. on Good Friday to Easter Sunday.

The sequel will cover the step-by-step events leading up to the Resurrection, according to the experience of the Apostles. It will also cover the intrigues that took place in Herod’s palace, and end with the Easter Sunday events in Jerusalem.

Let us pray for the eternal rest of Christo Jivkov:

Eternal rest grant unto Christo Jivkov, O Lord.
And let the perpetual light shine upon him.
May his soul and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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[See also: Mel Gibson’s ‘Passion of the Christ’ Sequel to Begin Filming in 2023]

[See also: Mel Gibson Reveals His Supernatural Ideas for “Passion” Sequel on Late Show]

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