President Stevo Pendarovski’s Address on Awarding Bigorski Monastery the Order of Merit for Macedonia

г. Mr. Stevo Pendarovski – President of Macedonia
Address by President Mr. Stevo Pendarovski, held during the awarding of the Order of Merit for Macedonia, at the Presidential Residence in Vodno, October 15th, Anno Domini 2020

Mr. Stevo Pendarovski – President of Macedonia

Esteemed Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia,
ПVenerated Archbishop of Ohrid and Macedonia and of Justiniana Prima,
Respected members of the Bigorski monastery,
Distinguished representatives of religious communities,
Honored guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Our generation has the extraordinarily rare opportunity to witness an impressive jubilee such as the 1000 years since the foundation of the Monastery of St. John the Baptist at Bigorski. The honor is even greater for me as president to have the privilege to bestow upon the monastery a high state recognition.

The Bigorski Monastery, beyond any doubt, is one of our greatest spiritual sanctuaries, which through the centuries, and today, continuously serves as a source of literacy, culture, and art.

The Bigorski is not just an Orthodox monastery and a Christian sanctuary; it has always been renowned as a place where assistance, support, human words, and comfort could be found by all, regardless of their religious, ethnic, or any other affiliation. The history of the monastery, but no less its current, vibrant spiritual and cultural mission and engagement, easily transcends national borders and unites people, which is surely the most noble cause in the world of which we are a part.

Even with the best intention and desire, it is impossible in just a few minutes to encompass the millennial history and tradition of this temple and to sufficiently address all aspects that make the work of the Bigorski Monastery so special and valuable. We heard about some of these in the introduction at the beginning, about others we have had the opportunity to read in ancient manuscripts, some we have witnessed ourselves, but undoubtedly there are parts that future generations will discover. Indeed, to the joy of us all, the monastery continues to live, to create goods, and to leave values. I am more than convinced that in the second millennium of its existence, the tradition will be continued, and we will all be charged with new cultural and spiritual endeavors and deeds, worthy of respect.

Dear friends,

Regrettably, despite beautiful events and jubilees like today’s, this year, 2020, will also be remembered for the pandemic that has fundamentally changed our daily lives. We live in fear and caution because of the virus while facing its devastating economic consequences. However, precisely in moments like these, more than ever, we need faith, solidarity, mutual respect, care and attention, love, and giving to the close ones, to the poor, to the vulnerable.

Accustomed to the comforts and routine of life, any change of this magnitude, we perceive fatalistically and much easier than before, allow impatience, anger, frustrations to overcome us. However, the millennial story of Bigorski teaches us that life is not just milk and honey and that as the folk wisdom says, there is something good in every bad. Human history remembers other apocalyptic events, but mankind has always emerged renewed with new life experiences. So it will be this time. In the fight for a happier and more fulfilled life, the power of age-old strongholds such as Bigorski can certainly serve as additional inspiration.

Allow me, at the very end, to wish all of you good health and prosperity, and to thank the holy Bigorski community and Father Partenij for all they do to preserve the tradition and our cultural and spiritual wealth, but also for their efforts in serving all those who come to the monastery to find peace, gentleness, and support. I wish you and your spiritual successors to remain faithful to the tradition of this holy place of such great significance for the vitality of our entire nation in the next millennium.

Thank you.