Man – that’s the image of God, therefore it would be impossible to love the Proto-image, without the love towards His icon, His image – man. Hasn’t the Apostle of love, St. John the Theologian, said: If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (1 John 4, 20). Thus, with the very power of this Divine love, Christianity glittered its way in to the darkness of this world and laid foundation of what we today refer to as a spiritual nobility, moral integrity, sublime culture, humanity, Christian civilization. And the old continent, this cradle of profound thought and feeling, of just legal frames, imbued with the yeast of the apostolic teachings and the blood of countless martyrs, connected inseparately with that Christian culture. So even now, twenty centuries after the apostolic preaching on this ground, it continues, in spite of the global decline of spiritual values, to appreciate and reward the humanitarian, the God-loving and noble.
Within the frames of its programme “Awarding exceptional European citizens”, the purpose of which is to inspire and promote humanity, pacifism, love for virtuous life, the EU Parliament awarded fifty individuals and organizations, among which also our beloved Elder and Abbot, Archimandrite Parthenius. At the main ceremony which took place on October 9th, 2018 in the warm atmosphere of one of the ceremonial halls of the EU Parliament in Brussels, in the presence of many Parliament members and guests, the laureates were officially awarded with the honorary medal diploma, by Mrs. Sylvie Guillaume, the Vice-President of the EU Assembly. Then the winners of this exceptional prize were also greeted by the Parliament President, Mr. Antonio Tajani. Among the awarded there were people and representatives of different social strata and a significant part of them were also Orthodox.
Thus winners of the “European citizen” prize were several charitable organizations from Romania, Greece and Cyprus, of which the one called “Ark of the world”, managed an Orthodox priest Fr. Antonios from Greece, is engaged in assisting and sheltering of abandoned and unprotected children. One of the laureates was also the academician Pierre Maurice from France the main initiator of the student exchange programme called “Erasmus” The oldest laureate is Mr. Mihai Șora from Romania, a philosopher and essayist, born in 1916. He had a wonderful speech in which he highlighted that being of this age he witnessed a different Europe – in ruins, covered with blood, torn by wars and occupied by dictator regimes, therefore he rejoices so much to see it united. The ceremony for the laureates continued the next day when they were given the opportunity to get acquainted with the European Parliament and the history of EU.
The present President of the European Parliament, Mr. Antonio Tajani, the former President Mr. Hans-Gert Pöttering, the Vice-President Mr. Dimitrios Papadimoulis and a few other EU politicians were among the numerous persons who congratulated Fr. Parthenius for the great prize. He had an opportunity to discuss with all of them about the eurointegration of Macedonia and asked them to help this process.
The “European citizen” prize was introduced for the first time in 2008 and the EU Parliament awards it to citizens and organizations which contributed greatly or devoted themselves to better mutual understanding and closer integration between the EU citizens, or for developing greater international and transnational cooperation in EU; a contribution to a long-term international and transnational cultural cooperation which strengthens the European spirit and humanity; for cherishing and promoting the values described in the European Convention on Human rights. It is represented through an honorary medal and a diploma signed by the Parliament President.
The short summary on the personality, activity and contribution of Fr. Parthenius which was exhibited on a board in the hall, written in four languages (English, French, Macedonian and Bulgarian), stated the following:
*The Monastery St. John the Baptist is an Orthodox Monastery in the western part of the Republic of Macedonia”.
Archimandrite Parthenius was proposed for a laureate by the EU Parliament member Andrey Kovatchev from Bulgaria, and after the proposal was approved by the Bulgarian Commission, it was finally endorsed by the EU Commission as well, which makes him the first Macedonian citizen to be awarded with this prestigious prize. The Republic of Bulgaria is the greatest supporter of the EU integration of the Republic of Macedonia.
We are sincerely grateful to Mr. Andrey Kovatchev and his associates for the unselfish love of their cordial reception here in Brussels, and especially for their honest inclination to award the complete humanitarian activity of our Elder. May God multiply their kindness and love and award them the heavenly prize!