The Traditional Bigorski Vigil on the Epiphany

In our Holy Bigorski Monastery, which has as its patron the great St. John the Baptist, Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptizer, the traditional all-night vigil is held on the day called Epiphany. At this moving vigil, faithful from the surrounding villages of the Bigorski Monastery, led by their godparents, come to the Forerunner’s temple, each carrying a specially prepared cross, basil, red and white thread, and kettles, so that during the vigil, the crosses can be tied with basil by the hieromonks as a symbol of binding all their hopes, sorrows, and joys with the Lord’s Cross.

After the great Blessing of the Waters, which is performed at the end of the vigil, each group fills its pots with the holy water and takes it back to their village for sprinkling and sanctification. On this vigil, the Lord arranged for us to pay our respects to the relics of the Venerable Forerunner and Baptizer in the newly crafted reliquary shaped like a hand, representing the hand of Saint John with which he was privileged to touch the pure head of the Savior Christ and baptize Him.

The humbling, yet magnificent divine service with the great Royal Hours, prescribed by the ancient Typicon, and carefully and devoutly guarded by the holy tradition of Christ’s Church, opened the windows for the grace of God, divine lights, and heavenly enlightenment for all the present worshippers. In fact, the day that follows, called the Feast of the Theophany or Epiphany, calls us to put off the old man within us and put on the new, in Christ, something that was elaborated on and explained to us in greater depth by His Eminence and Grace, our Elder and Abbot, Bishop Antanaski of Partenit, who presided over the festive celebration, which culminated with the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great and the great Blessing of the Waters.