The day of the solemn and glorious entry of our Savior Lord Jesus Christ into the Holy City of Jerusalem is a great feast heralding the triumph of Life over death, Good over evil, Love over hatred, a celebration of pure and joyous praise to the Lord from the innocent lips of children and the guileless hearts of adults. On this day, the most holy Ohrid Archbishopric and our Sacred Bigorski Monastery were honoured with the highest esteem and sacred dignities.
This time, the priceless honour and abundant heavenly blessings came from the land of saints, Imbros, a highly significant Romaniote island, now part of Turkey. Besides many significant ecclesiastical historical figures, it is also the birthplace of the current Archbishop of Constantinople – New Rome, His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Mr. Bartholomew. Precisely there, in Imbros, a devout community of Orthodox Romaniotes still lives under the pastoral care of the respected Metropolitan of Imbros and Tenedos, Mr. Cyril. In the birthplace of His All-Holiness the Patriarch, in the settlement named Saint Theodori, is the glorious church of Saint George the Trophy-Bearer, where he himself was baptized. Today, in this church from his all-honoured patriarchal hands, and with the blessing of His Beatitude Mr. Stefan and the Metropolitan Mr. Timothy, our brothers Cyril and Anatolij were ordained to the highest title in the Church for monastic rank – Archimandrites of the Ecumenical Patriarchal Throne.
In addition to our brothers in monasticism, the highest dignity for married priests, Protosyngeli (protosyngellus-stavrophoroi) of the Ecumenical Patriarchal Throne, were conferred upon the fathers: Boban Mitevski from the Skopje diocese, Alexander Dimovski from the Debar-Kichevo diocese, and Simeon Kanturski from the Strumica diocese. The same dignity was also bestowed upon the already ordained proto-priest: Nikola Hristoski, the secretary of the Debar-Kichevo diocese, and the priests Dimche Gjorgjievski and Kiril Jovanovski, also from our God-guarded diocese.
This sacred event occurred immediately after the conclusion of the Divine Eucharist in honour of Palm Sunday. After the holy ordinations and awards, His All-Holiness, the Patriarch Mr. Bartholomew, addressed the numerous faithful in the church. Deeply moved, he emphasized at the end of his sermon:
“Today, in our village, in our place, in Imbros, we have chosen visitors, brothers from abroad, from the Ohrid Archbishopric, from the Republic of North Macedonia. They came to pay their respects to the Great Church of Christ, in the person of the Ecumenical Patriarch; a Church that, like a true Mother, embraced this nation and this Church, which was severed from the body of the rest of Orthodoxy for almost seventy years, without communion with other Orthodox Churches. Then, the Ecumenical Patriarchate again, as it has done in who knows how many appropriate cases throughout history, restored communion with these brothers and sisters of ours, Christians of North Macedonia, and brought them into fellowship with the rest of the Orthodox world. This happened last year, on May 9, 2022. Then, following the Ecumenical Patriarchate, other Churches began to recognize their canonicity, to accept them in communion with them. And now, we are in a stage of preparing to grant this Church, under certain conditions, the status of autocephaly. We are on a good path, the talks continue. The most important thing was that we managed to celebratee together and were purified from the same holy Chalice. This happened last year, on the great feast of Pentecost, when the Archbishop of Ohrid, Mr. Stefan, the much-beloved brother, came from Skopje to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and we celebrated together, communed together, and gave our joint blessing to the people of God. That was a great and historic day. Now, the other things are secondary, details. I repeat: the most important thing is that we stood around the holy Table of the All-Honoured Patriarchal Church and communed with the pure Mysteries, thus proclaiming the unity of faith in the bond of love.
Today we have with us His Eminence, Bishop Jacob, a Vicar Bishop of Metropolitan Mr. Nahum – another beloved brother, who became a monk on Mount Athos. There he received the juices of the Athonite tradition and transferred them to his homeland, North Macedonia. Together with brother Jacob, here are the archimandrites and proto-priests who were honoured today by the Mother – the Great Church of Christ. They will return to their country as crusaders, spiritual heroes, and much-beloved children of the Great Church of Christ, carrying there the message of tenderness and love. This is the love with which the Ecumenical Patriarchate embraces those brothers and sisters there, despite various distortions that, unfortunately, can be heard from other sister Churches, which do not respect the canonical order, do not respect Orthodox Tradition and try to introduce harmful innovations into Orthodox ecclesiology and Orthodox canonical law. However, God the Lord is alive!
Brothers, sisters, and children, Imbrians and non-Imbrians, friends of Imbros, visitors, I wholeheartedly wish you a good Easter, a good Resurrection!
To you, brothers, a good return to your homeland, may you become carriers, interpreters of our best feelings, from the Phanar, from Constantinople, from the Great Church, and from humble Imbros.”
In response to this, the venerable Bishop of Stobi, Mr. Jacob, who was also a part of our church delegation in Imbros, with the blessing of His Beatitude, Archbishop Mr. Stefan, and the Metropolitans of the honoured clergy, Mr. Timothy of Debar-Kichevo and Mr. Nahum of Strumica, expressed his gratitude to His All-Holiness:
“Your All-Holiness, brother archbishops, and blessed people of God,
I set foot on this island this morning, Your All-Holiness, knowing nothing about it. Now, seeing how this island is intertwined with Your being and what You feel for it in Your heart, and through the grace of the Holy Spirit that animates the Church, it made me feel it too. Therefore, I am especially pleased and thank You that Your All-Holiness received us right here. Of course, there are other things to say, but what I strongly feel and thank God for today is that despite everything, here the faith of the apostles and our holy fathers is preserved authentic, pure, and untarnished.
I will not prolong – I convey the greeting from our Blessed Archbishop Stefan and all the other bishops of our holy Ohrid Archbishopric, whom Your heart knows very well, and who have an inseparable connection with the Holy Mountain – Mount Athos, which is under Your spiritual and prayerful protection. We pray to God to strengthen You in Your endeavour, to become everything to all, to overcome all divisions and Christ to be in everything. I thank You also on behalf of the fathers for these honours. Indeed, You are not only honouring them today, but also all generations of priests and fathers of the Ohrid Archbishopric who have preserved the purity of the apostolic faith and patristic truth. We hope in Your holy prayers, and You are already in ours every day.”
Let the new honours of our fathers be blessed and bright, and may they serve for the glory of God, for the salvation of their souls, and for the spiritual well-being of our Orthodox people and our most holy Ohrid Archbishopric! They are Worthy!
Source: Ecumenical Patriarchate