Vespers in memory of the Great Founder of the Bigorski Monastery

With an angelic-like celebration and heavenly glory, as if in the heights of paradise, our sanctuary celebrated the Feast of the greatest among the Prophets, the Voice of the Word of God, who lived for the love and glory of Christ – Saint John the Forerunner. It participated in the great joy of the one who is the patron and most beloved intercessor of this Monastery, illuminating it for 1000 years now.

Therefore, this evening the Vespers was dedicated to its famous founder, our Father among the Saints, St. John of Debar. Being the first Archbishop of Ohrid, he laid the foundations of the thousand-year-old Bigorski Monastery in the distant 1020. At the Great Vespers, which was headed by our Elder and Abbot, Bishop of Antania Mr. Parthenius, the fraternity glorified and honoured the First and Great Founder through loving and grateful chants. In addition, our Elder performed the act of Parastos for the blessed repose of all the founders, builders, benefactors, helpers and worshipers of the Holy Bigorski Monastery through the centuries. May the memory of all of them be eternal!

And on the occasion of the Founder’s Vespers, on behalf of the monks and nuns, our oldest Hieromonk, Father Dositheus addressed the present with inspiring words: 

Our Dear Elder and Bishop,

respected fathers,

beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,

This year is really a great one – not in the number of days in it, but because of the great jubilees that came with it. We celebrate the millennium of the founding of this Holy Monastery – a jubilee worthy of admiration. But this year also marks the 50th anniversary since the birth of our Elder and Bishop, as well as 25 years of his monastic and spiritual guidance of souls. For 25 years now as a Priest before God, he has been offering to our Lord the Holy Mysteries, praying daily for our brotherhood and sisterhood, but also for all his spiritual children throughout our Homeland and abroad.

Your spiritual efforts, our dear Holy Bishop, have not gone unnoticed. The results are visible in every aspect: the spiritual enlightenment of the faithful, the material construction and growth of our sanctuaries, as well as the numerous social and humanitarian missions. That is why, this year, on the initiative of our esteemed Archpriest, the Metropolitan of Debar and Kichevo, Mr Timothy, the Holy Synod of the MOC-OA ordained you as Hierarch of Christ.

The special grace felt at the Great Vespers in honour of our founders, as well as during the Memorial service for the souls of all the founders and monks of this Holy Monastery over the centuries, was an act of gratitude on our behalf for their great contribution to the present glory of the Monastery. We also dedicated the service to all the builders, generous donors of our beloved Monastery, but also to all who have fallen for the liberty of our nation and perseverance of our faith.

The efforts of monk John, the first Archbishop of Ohrid and the first Founder of this Holy Monastery established 1000 years ago, as well as the feats and sacrifices of all the Abbots and monks who lived here in the past ten centuries, speak to us with a strong and clear voice today. Each and every one of their feats, each sacrifice, each teardrop, each strain of sweat or blood, the martyrdom of the innocent slaughtered monks throughout history, are like bricks, layered one upon the other in this, above all spiritual construction, we call Bigorski.

And all those deeds performed in the name of God, are certainly blessed with the heavenly blessing of St. John the Forerunner and Baptist, who tirelessly intercedes before our Lord Jesus Christ, so that this Holy Home may be preserved and blessed forever. For 1000 years now, the Venerable Forerunner has constantly been performing miracles in this holy place, through his Miraculous icon that is kept in this sacred house of his. In all the monastic chronicles it has been written that because of its miracles, this Monastery has existed for so long and no dark force here can overcome it… These glorious miracles of St. John are glorified daily through the chanting of the Canon in honour of its icon.

Dear beloved Elder, with your unceasing struggle in the past 25 years, with your self-sacrifice, prayers and love, with the deeds you left behind, with your spiritual wisdom, with your enlightened refined architectural and aesthetic talent, you have proven yourself to be the second John of Debar, the new Founder of the Bigorski Monastery. Therefore, on behalf of all brothers and sisters, I wish that you lead our Holy Synodia for many years to come, for the benefit of all of us and of our glorious Church, the Ohrid Archbishopric.

For many years, dear Bishop of our hearts!

The Bigroski Monastery rejoices at your memory, the God-pleasing flock, which you have acquired with toil and sweat, Venerable John, blessed pastor of Ohrid. Having acquired you as an image and example and a proven guide to virtue, it celebrates your memory with dignity. Never stop to give your Bigorski Monastery the gifts of paternal care, Father, praying persistently for our souls. .

Verses from the Vespers in honour of the Founders