Today’s festive celebration of Lazarus’ Resurrection was specially adorned by the ceremonial promotion of two literary works by the author Biljana Andonovska from Bitola. In the spacious ceremonial hall of the Bigorski Monastery, in the presence of our Elder and Abbot, Bishop Mr. Partenij, Archimandrite Dositej, brothers monks and sisters nuns, and a large number of believers and literature enthusiasts, the biographical novel of the Venerable Joannicius of Rakotinci “With Faith and Patience, to Miraculous Healings” and the poetry collection “Where is God?” were presented.
The event was facilitated by the writer and poetess Mrs. Vera Blagojević, who is also the author of the review for the books, and the legend of Macedonian music, Mr. Dragan Mijalkovski, who performed several songs with his guitar and read the book reviews with his poetic voice. During the promotion, excerpts from the novel about Saint Joannicius, as well as several poems from the poetry collection, were read.
In her review of the book “With Faith and Patience, to Miraculous Healings,” Mrs. Blagojević wrote, among other things:
“In these lines below, the prayers and tears of the saints and martyrs pass through the heart of the author Biljana Andonovska. This manuscript, so vividly and emotionally written, I can freely say, is a masterpiece… Andonovska’s novel has the intoxicating scent of dry basil, and while reading it, I could almost smell the incense from church censers. The author’s love is my love, our beautiful Orthodox faith, churches and monasteries, and all our saints.”
In her address, author Biljana Andonovska said:
“As a great lover of reading, I read all kinds of literature, but when I started reading Orthodox literature and saw the beauty and joy it brings, I never looked at another book from another genre again. The desire to write a novel has been smoldering for a long time, but it was God’s providence that it happened now and about St. Joannicius of Rakotinci. I envisioned this novel as a picture book for adults. I tried to write as simply as possible, so the reader does not have to read between the lines. Primarily, this novel is intended for readers who are not sufficiently familiar with the wonders of our Orthodox faith. To those for whom monasticism is a taboo topic. To all those who wonder why some people decide to go to a monastery and become monks. To bring the saints closer to people who were ordinary people who, as a result of a God-pleasing life, became sanctified and to this day are present with their miracles and help anyone who approaches them with faith. The goal of this novel is for as many people as possible to get closer to our most beautiful Orthodox faith.”
At the end of the promotion, the Elder, Bishop Mr. Partenij, also spoke:
As the host of this promotion, I want to express my immense joy and satisfaction that today we are promoting the first novel dedicated to Saint Joannicius of Rakotinci. I am sure that the Venerable chose our sister Biljana to write this wonderful novel.
Indeed, the Saints look for hearts to whom they can speak. I am especially pleased that among us here are residents of Rakotinci, namely people from the church board of the village, who know well the history of Saint Joannicius’ relics. Maybe someone will wonder why the holy relics of the Venerable were located for a certain period in Bigorski? Why did he come here specifically? The answer is that he chose his kindred souls to talk about his glory. You know, as written in his Life, his incorrupt body was discovered after a landslide, then placed in an auxiliary building of the village church, and after forty years, in 1986, it was reburied in a concrete trench, where it decomposed over time. During the time of communism, in general apostasy, the Saint simply seemed not to find kindred hearts to whom he could appear, reveal himself, speak about the glory he has in the heavenly Church. He waited for a suitable time when monasticism would be renewed, for this great monk of Heaven, with freedom in Christ, to speak to his kindred souls and comfort us all. God, through His faithful people, wants to make His Kingdom present here on Earth. In fact, that’s the purpose of the Church: for all of us to become part of that heavenly Kingdom. And for that to happen, it is necessary to open our hearts to the spiritual and to the Divine and see: Heaven, the Saints, and the Lord Himself speak to them.
So, I am convinced that Saint Joannicius chose our Biljana to speak into her heart, so she could write this wonderful novel, which is another celebration for the Venerable, another testimony to his holiness. I hope this book will bring the life of this great Saint closer to people, who, as Biljana said, is among us – acts and performs miracles…