“Little Bitola Montmartre” in Bigorski

On the glorious day of the Lord’s Ascension, our Monastery became the center of an extraordinary cultural and artistic event – the children’s art colony “Little Bitola Montmartre.” This artistic manifestation was organized by the president of this international children’s art colony, Elena Hadži-Antonovska, and the president of the Board of the “St. Cyril and Methodius” Children’s Art Studio – Bitola, Slavcho Nedelkovski. A hundred young artists from 22 countries around the world, with their easels, brushes, and palettes and above all, with their artistic talent and youthful creative spirit, adorned the monastery courtyard yesterday, transferring the architectural and natural beauties of the Monastery onto their canvases, each through their personal aesthetic perception.

Initially, the young artists were hospitably welcomed and received by our Elder and Abbot, Bishop of Antania Mr. Partenij, who at the official reception greeted the esteemed guests with the following words:

Respected visual artists, I warmly welcome you all, and I thank the organizers of this beautiful event of high aesthetic value for choosing our Monastery, for these artistic souls to be with us today and with their presence and creativity to honor this sacred place with a thousand-year history. As a Bitolan, I well know what the Little Bitola Montmartre is and have always been delighted that in that beautiful city of ours, the pride of Macedonia, children from all over the world come to paint the impressive architecture of Bitola. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the city of Paris and to walk those streets and squares around the grand temple of the Savior Christ, on the Hill of Martyrs, which is actually what the toponym Montmartre, from the French Mont des Martyrs, signifies. I was inspired by that mysterious connection of art with the supreme Artist, that is, with God the Creator. Truly, God is love and beauty, and the purpose of art is precisely beauty. We Christians read in the Holy Scripture that when God created the world, at each day of creation, He affirmed that what was created was good, beautiful. And God saw that it was good. From the Holy Fathers of the Church, in the basic exposition of the Christian faith, in the Symbol of Faith, God is called Ποιητής: Poet, Creator, Artist. Undoubtedly, God is the greatest Artist, Who left His signature in nature. We in the Church say that the revelation about God is conditionally divided into natural and supernatural. Supernatural is when God appeared in a supernatural way, to communicate with people. This includes, for example, the coming of the Very Son of God to Earth. The natural revelation, on the other hand, is when God speaks to us through creation, through nature itself, which we see as a perfect work of art. And just as every artistic painting has a signature from the author, so God has signed in His nature. In this way, through His creations, those perfect works of art, of which we humans are the most wondrous, we learn and communicate daily with the Artist above all artists. Thank you once again, and I am very pleased that you are here. I wish you a pleasant stay and fruitful creativity!”

The organizers of the event heartily thanked Elder Bishop Mr. Partenij for the given blessing and for the generous hospitality, and on behalf of all participants, they gifted him an icon of Saint Partenij of Lampsakos, painted by the art teacher Tomislav Sterjov.

Subsequently, the young artistic souls immediately took up their brushes, to experience and convey the beauty of the Bigorski Sanctuary in their own way. At the end of the day, certificates of appreciation were awarded to the participants, and two drawings from the delegation of China and one each from the delegations of Israel and Turkey were selected as the best. As a token of gratitude for the expressed support and collaboration, “Little Bitola Montmartre” awarded our Elder a Diploma for contribution to the art of painting.