The Visit of the Albanian President, Ilir Meta, to Bigorski

Today, at the invitation of the Mayor of Debar, Mr. Hekuran Duka, the President of the Republic of Albania, Mr. Ilir Meta, arrived in the city of Debar. His agenda included a visit to our Monastery, so in the afternoon, accompanied by his entourage, the mayor, the mufti of Debar, Mr. Reshat Kachalniku, and the president of the Debar municipality, Mr. Bashkim Maškuli, were our guests, bringing joy and honor to the monastic brotherhood.

The esteemed guests were hospitably welcomed by our elder and abbot, Bishop Partenij, and the brother monks. During the visit, Hieromonk Dositej acquainted President Meta with the millennial history of the Holy Bigorski Monastery, and in the monastery’s library, Bishop Partenij personally showed him the first Albanian Gospel written in Latin script by the famous Albanian figure from Elbasan, Konstantin Kristoforidhi, published in Constantinople in 1872. This Gospel has significant historical importance for Albanians as it serves as a precursor to the literary Albanian language. Kristoforidhi, along with a few other Albanian Christians, is one of the prominent figures of the Albanian national movement towards the end of the 19th century. The Gospel was inherited by the Bigorski library from the lineage of Bishop Partenij, the blessed late Dušan Hristov Konstantinov, whose son Branimir donated his private library to Bigorski in 2011. The guests from Albania were immensely impressed by how our monastic brotherhood cares for preserving the cultural and spiritual heritage in the region, regardless of national pretext.

During the meeting, Bishop Partenij praised the mayor, Mr. Hekuran Duka, and all Debar citizens for fostering a culture of good coexistence in the Debar area among all citizens, regardless of their religious and national affiliations. Our respected fellow citizens, Mayor Duka and Mufti Kachalniku, agreed with this conclusion.

The President of Albania expressed his profound gratitude to our Elder for the warm welcome, his generosity, his sense of aesthetics and harmony, and the hospitable and magnanimous spirit of our Monastery.

President Ilir Meta recorded his impressions of today’s visit in the guest book:

“Today was an extraordinary surprise for me to visit the Bigorski Monastery of Saint John. An exceptional treasure for Orthodox believers and all humanity. Another reason not only to be proud of this extraordinary work but also for joint preservation and promotion. I will return here soon.”

Ilir Meta – President of the Republic of Albania