A beautiful icon of the Commander of the Holy Angelic Forces, Saint Archangel Michael, arrived at Bigorski Monastery
On the eve of the feast of the Divine Enlightenment and the bright Theophany over the Jordan River, the Bigorski Monastery was last night bestowed with a great angelic blessing. Namely, a beautiful icon of the Commander of the Holy Angelic Forces, Saint Archangel Michael, arrived at the Monastery.
The icon of the heavenly Archistrategos, crafted in silver casing with gold plating, adorned with pearls and semi-precious stones, was personally brought by its creator, our dear friend, the well-known iconographer Dimcho Dimchovski from the Republic of Bulgaria, accompanied by two of his companions. He generously presented our Monastery this beautiful icon with the approval and blessing of Bishop Velichki, His Grace Mr. Sionij, from the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, who is also the abbot of two very important Bulgarian monasteries: the Troyan and Bachkovo Monasteries. This is already the third time that, with the blessing of Bishop Sionij, iconographer Dimcho Dimchovski generously donated an icon to our Elder – the first time, an icon of Saints Cyril and Methodius and the second time – of Saint Great Martyr George in Rajčica.
With the blessing of our Elder, Archimandrite Partenij, the icon of Saint Archangel Michael was ceremoniously welcomed by our brotherhood and the present faithful with the usual monastery welcome (ipodohi). In his appropriate address, the Elder, among other things, stated:
“We sincerely and warmly thank His Grace, the beloved Bishop of Velichki, Mr. Sionij, our dear brother in Christ, Mr. Dimcho Dimchovski, and his pious companions, for bringing us this great honor and joy on the eve of Theophany! They come to us from our brotherly neighbor, the Republic of Bulgaria. At this moment, we pray to the great Archistrategos, Saint Archangel Michael, to multiply brotherly love among Orthodox brethren everywhere, because it is expected from us, the worshippers of the Triune God, to show mutual love in Christ, as He, our Savior, told His disciples: By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another (John 13:35).
Our Church, the Ohrid Archbishopric, renewed as the Macedonian Orthodox Church, has been fighting for its autocephaly, for its place under the sun, which the Sun of righteousness – Christ God, sends equally to all, for more than five decades. And behold, thanks to that arduous struggle, and the heavenly enlightenment of our wise Ecumenical Patriarch, Mr. Bartholomew, it is, we hope, on the verge of its recognition. The Orthodox brethren in Bulgaria have long had a recognized autocephalous Church. In those territories, while here the Ohrid Archbishopric was active, there was the Patriarchate of Tarnovo. And now, for the glory of God, the Bulgarian Church has its autocephaly and its independent primate. Now, beneficially, in the spirit of Christianity and brotherly love, the high clergy of the Bulgarian Church should rejoice together with their brethren and the Christian flock of this martyr-land and support the Great Church of Christ – the Ecumenical Patriarchate in its initiative to correct the long-standing injustice, so the ancient Ohrid seat can be equally accepted by all other local Orthodox Churches in the world.
May the great Archistrategos Michael intercede for all of us, for our dear Church, the Ohrid Archbishopric, and especially for the monks, as the protector of the angelic life on earth. After all, as we know from sacred history, Saint Equal-to-the-Apostles Naum of Ohrid, our progenitor, the father of all Slavic communal monasticism, the Monastery he built on the shores of the White Lake, dedicated precisely to the Holy Archangels, as protectors of the monastic race. Since then, his Monastery became an example for other monasteries in Macedonia, which out of honor for this great Saint and the Holy Archangels, depicted the Archangels on the icon located immediately next to the Most Holy Theotokos on the iconostasis. Such is the case with our Monastery. Consequently, we pray the great Commander of the Heavenly Hosts to protect the monastic army everywhere in the world and this millennial Monastery of the renewed Ohrid Archbishopric, Saint John the Baptist – Bigorski; to help us remain until the end a faithful army of our Savior and God, Lord Jesus Christ. For, Archangel Michael is the one who, after the fall of Satan and the angels with him, called all the heavenly hosts and exclaimed: Let us stand aright, let us stand with fear. Monks are daily confronted with this call of the Archistrategos, to remain until the end in the covenant they have pledged to, which is not easy, but on the contrary, something very difficult and arduous, especially in these times.
Lastly, once again, I deeply thank our benefactors, who for the third time delighted our Holy Monastery with such a precious gift. May God bless them, through the prayers of Saint Archangel Michael, Saints Cyril and Methodius, whose icon they gifted us three years ago, and Saint George the Victorious, whose icon they also presented to the Monastery in Rajčica!”
In response to this grateful greeting from our Elder, iconographer Dimcho said the following words:
“My joy, as well as the joy of my and your brethren with whom we gifted this icon, is greater than your joy. For, whenever a Christian man gives, he rejoices more than when he receives. Thus, the joy belongs more to us. This icon came here by the order of Bishop Sionij, who is the sole Abbot at the same time of two stavropegial monasteries: the Troyan and the Bachkovo. When the news about the Ecumenical Patriarch, who made such an exceptionally bright decision to mediate the restoration of canonical communion of your Church, arrived to us, grandfather Sionij asked us to bring this icon as a sign of brotherly love between the brethren in Christ from Bulgaria and Macedonia.
I want to thank Elder Partenij, for previously, accepting the other icons, which we brought as a gift by the blessing of grandfather Sionij. Namely, he recognizes Elder Partenij as Partenij the Builder, who in such a short time managed, not only to establish the Monastery but also to renew the communal monasticism in Macedonia, together with other Holy Mountain fathers…
You are a wonderful, great, and united brotherhood. We thank you for being an example to all of us! In the person of Elder Partenij and this brotherhood, we recognize true spiritual leaders of the Orthodox people in these difficult times. We thank you for your existence! This modest gift is the least we can do for you…”