A Unique Chronicle of the Recent History of the Bigorski Monastery
This year, the divine celebration of the Bigorski Monastery’s feast in honor of the Beheading of the most honorable head of Saint John the Baptist was enriched with a splendid event – the promotion of the monumental work, the monograph “The Icon of Bistra: Protector of Orthodoxy” by author Mr. Kiro Kiproski.
The promotion was held after the completion of the solemn service, in the large hall for ceremonies at the Bigorski Monastery, in the presence of: His Eminence, Metropolitan of Debar-Kichevo Mr. Timotej, His Eminence, Metropolitan of Tetovo-Gostivar Mr. Josif, His Grace, Bishop of Antaniski and Abbot of the Holy Bigorski Monastery Mr. Partenij, clergy, scholars, journalists, faithful, and admirers of Bigorski. The event was moderated by Mrs. Lenche Smilevska, with presentations on the book by Hieromonk Kiril Bigorski, editor of the publication, and Mr. Marjan Velevski, journalist and editor at “Nova Makedonija”. At the end of the promotion, the author of the work, Mr. Kiro Kiproski, a doyen of Macedonian journalism, spoke. The event was adorned with a performance by the choir of the Bigorski Monastery.
In fact, the book is a unique chronicle of the recent history of the Bigorski Monastery – namely, the period in which the revived monastic life has been active since 1995, with the arrival of the current Abbot, Bishop Mr. Partenij. The professional and experienced journalist Kiro Kiproski, with his chronicling pen, diligently and persistently recorded all the significant events at Bigorski and related occurrences, publishing them in various written and spoken media. Thus, he created an exceptionally rich collection of over 200 articles about Bigorski in the past nearly three decades. Now, all collected in one compendium, they represent a significant journalistic, historiographic, ethnographic, and ecclesiastical work – a written treasure not only for the Bigorski Monastery but also for our entire society.
“The Icon of Bistra: Protector of Orthodoxy” is published by the Holy Bigorski Monastery of the Honorable Forerunner, with Hieromonk Kiril as the editor and Hieromonk Anatolij as the technical editor. The printing was done in “GrafoProm” – Bitola, and the publication’s financial sponsors are Mr. Zarko Milenkoski and Mr. Aleksandar Jovanovski, to whom we express our great gratitude. The book is published in honor of the millennium of the foundation of the Bigorski Monastery.
Below, we present the forewords by Metropolitan Mr. Timotej and Bishop Mr. Partenij.
An Authentic Chronicle of Bigorski
This year, as we commemorate two significant jubilees of the Bigorski Monastery “St. John the Baptist” – ten centuries since its foundation and 25 years since the revival of monastic life, my long-time friend, Kiro Kiproski, journalist, travel writer, and publicist, a doyen of Macedonian journalism, gifts us this precious monograph: “The Icon under Bistra – Protector of Orthodoxy”. With great love and dedication to the monastery, very successfully, through numerous journalistic texts and photographs, he follows the two and a half decades of development and growth of the glorious Monastery and all collected in a book, contributing greatly to the recent history of this ancient Macedonian spiritual sanctuary. The work is unique, exceptional, authentic, irreplaceable. Why do I say this? Because, as far as I am aware, in our country and beyond, no book has been published by an author – chronicler, who literally records all significant events and processes from the very fruitful monastic life and with his journalistic pen immortalizes them.
As a diligent chronicler and experienced journalist, Kiproski dedicated himself, through texts from all journalistic genres, regularly, quality, objectively – in a word, professionally to inform the public about all activities and happenings in the arduous process of renewing monastic life in the Bigorski Monastery, which was abolished in 1948 with the death of the last monk and abbot Spiridon.
He tirelessly writes about the efforts made by the monks of Bigorski and the nuns of Rajchica and Prechista, led by their abbot and elder Partenij, for the resurrection of the monasteries, for bringing back the spirit of life among the population in Dolna Reka, through regular services, churchgoing, renewing forgotten or neglected Orthodox customs and traditions in celebrating holidays. Alongside, Kiro Kiproski’s journalistic word informs us about all steps and measures to restore the former glory of the monastic complex, as well as its new splendor with additional buildings and architectural realizations. Over a quarter-century of the monastic brotherhood under Abbot Partenij, Kiproski accurately and timely informed the Macedonian public and through printed and electronic media affirmed the Bigorski Monastery as an inviolable Orthodox institution, where spirituality plays a significant role for the Macedonian people. The monograph contains only a portion of the numerous articles and photographs from his rich journalistic creation published in print media: “Nova Makedonija”, “Utrinski Vesnik”, “Makedonija”, “Porta-3”, and “Bitolski Vesnik”, as well as transcribed audio materials, broadcast on “Radio Gostivar”.
The manuscripts of the monograph deeply attracted my attention and brought back memories and recollections of a very rich and diverse period of my working life as the competent hierarch of the Debar-Kichevo diocese of the MPC-OA.
“In the Bigorski Monastery, the monastic brotherhood will be renewed” – a report broadcast on May 7, 1995, on the waves of “Radio Gostivar”, a contribution by journalist Kiro Kiproski. The day before, after finishing the liturgy I served in honor of the patron of the monastic church “St. George the Victorious” in the village of Rajchica, in the friendly conversation, Kiproski conveyed the dissatisfaction of the faithful due to the absence of monasticism. I listened attentively, understood their justified grievances and desire for the revival of monastic brotherhoods and sisterhoods. Then, I vividly remember, I responded: “Be patient a little longer. Beautiful days are coming for the Bigorski Monastery. This summer, I will appoint a young man as abbot, well-educated, with monastic experience from Mount Athos. You will see, time will tell, he will resurrect the monastery”.
The texts in the monograph: “The Icon under Bistra – Protector of Orthodoxy”, took me back through the years, reviving past events. Indeed, the work presents the thorny path of the renewal of the Bigorski sanctuary.
Bigorski Monastery connects me with indelible memories, so skillfully sealed in the hundreds of texts and photographs, which Kiproski created over the past 25 years. All of this makes this monograph a capital work for me, a chronicle, almanac, encyclopedia of our eminent spiritual sanctuary, rightly called the pillar of the MPC-OA.
Many events, happenings, liturgies, celebrations, monastic ordinations, meetings, visits by religious dignitaries from the state and abroad, politicians, businessmen, cultural workers, entertainment artists, and more, are precisely recorded in the monograph. Therefore, I warmly recommend this precious and well-crafted, comprehensive monograph to all lovers and admirers of the Bigorski Monastery.
With archbishopric blessing,
Ohrid, June 22, 2020
Dear readers and admirers of the Holy Bigorski Monastery,
Anniversaries and jubilees that not only commemorate a specific event, process, or occurrence but also carry a civilizational message, speak of the birth of an entire culture, and celebrate a common spiritual-historical educational continuity are rare. Even rarer are those anniversaries that, in addition to all this, convey the voice from eternity, from the Kingdom of God’s love and truth, a voice that calls for repentance, transformation, spiritual awakening, and deification.
Among these precious, river-gold rare anniversaries, this year’s millennial jubilee of our Holy Monastery, founded in the distant year 1020 by the first Archbishop of Ohrid, John of Debar, stands out. For a full thousand years, the Bigorski Monastery, like some unearthly, inexhaustible lantern, has illuminated our land with the radiance of God’s grace and holiness, continuously creating a culture of Orthodox spirituality and an environment for the deification of God-created human beings, many of whom have shone here with their immortal feats and acts of love, enlightenment, Divine science, and also worldly skills and creations.
We learn about all these glorious Bigorski actors from the sacred monastery history, from preserved and living traditions, from historiographic notes, from chronicles and records. To the millennial flow of the Bigorski Monastery and the factographic recording of events within it, the skillful and meticulous chronicler’s pen of the veteran in Macedonian journalism, the incomparable and always positive Mr. Kiro Kiproski, has been added in the last three decades. Simply put, there is no major monastic event, holiday, celebration, promotion, meeting, construction, that has not been noted by the writer’s hand of this greatest and unique chronicler of Bigorski, a Mijak by birth from the glorious village of Galichnik. Mr. Kiproski has dedicated numerous articles, reports, interviews, and news items to the millennium-old Rekan Sanctuary. All contain precious contents and data, clearly writing the most recent history of Bigorski.
These intellectual literary and journalistic works of our special friend and collaborator, honored with the honorary Bigorski order “The Forerunner”, are finally collected in one place, in this beautiful compilation titled with a powerful message: “The Icon of Bistra – Protector of Orthodoxy”. This book, in fact, represents a contemporary chronicle of the Bigorski Monastery for the last thirty years, a time filled with events and actions, all the more so as it encompasses the revival of monastic life and the Monastery in general. All significant monastic happenings are aptly factographed by Mr. Kiproski, making his book a true literary “Icon” of the Bigorski Monastery for the past twenty-five years, as old as the renewed monasticism within it.
“The Icon of Bistra” is published in the year when Bigorski celebrates its millennium, and this is no coincidence. Because this work and its author are inscribed in golden letters in this millennial existence, as one of the most fruitful trees from the chronicle garden of history.
Abbot of the Holy Bigorski Monastery,
September 24, 2020, Anno Domini