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Saint Jovan Bigorski Monastery

Saint Jovan Bigorski Monastery




Location: road between Debar and Gostivar








Saint Jovan (John) Bigorski Monastery is devoted to Saint John the Baptist. The term "bigorski" means "tuff rock" in Macedonian. The monastery was found in 1021 by first Archbishop of Orchid Ivan I Debranin who found an icon of Saint John. The Ottoman invasion in the 16th century did spare the monastery. It was burned down and monks killed. An icon that was the soul of the monastery has vanished. New live of the Bigorski monastery started in 1743 then monk Ilarion came here and started restoring cells. It grew even further in the years of 1812- 25 then much of the structures you see today has been built under leadership of archimandrite Arsenius. It was around that time that the original icon of John the Baptist resurfaced. Whether it was hidden in a cache, or kept by local family or even painted again is not known, but it is still venerated as miraculous. Its silver decorations have been in added in 1885.






According to the Byzantine monastery, the monastery was founded by monk John in 1020, and in the sixteenth century the monastery was destroyed by the Ottoman authorities and the whole complex remained only a small church. The locals also find that the monastery was rebuilt in 1743 by Hieromonk Hilarion, who was also the first abbot of the Bigorski Monastery in more recent times.

The monastery's name comes from the fact that the building was built of limestone. The Bigorski Monastery comprises the monastery church dedicated to John the Baptist, the skeleton, housed next to the church itself, the Seymens Defense Tower, the monastery lodging complex, and the newly built guest lodgings.

Monastic brotherhood
Monastic life in the monastery was restored in 1995, with the arrival of the current abbot Archimandrite Parthenius. Today the fraternity has about 25 monks who live according to the social rules of Mount Athos.

The main feast of the monastery, the monastery glory, is the Beheading of St. John the Baptist on August 29 in the old style, ie September 11 in the new style. Smaller celebrations are the Birth of St. John the Baptist on June 23 / July 7 and the Memorial of the Miracle of the Holy Mother of God with the icon "Worthy" on June 11/24. In addition, the Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos on 15/28 August, the name of the abbot Archimandrite Parthenius, on 07/20 February is celebrated, and especially the Resurrection and Nativity of Christ.

The iconostasis
The monastery of St. John the Baptist is widely known for its iconostasis. He was made by the craftsmen of Petre Filipov-Garka from the village of Gari, together with his brother Marko Filipov, Makarij Frchkovski from Galichnik and Avram Ditchov with sons Vasil and Filip, from the Filipovci family from 18 to 18, in the period from 18 to 18 create a beautiful artistic wooden act.

The iconostasis is divided into six horizontal belts. The first one is composed of rectangular fields with ornamental flora and fauna. The second belt, where the throne icons are moved, ends with an eagle figure with wings spread. The third belt is divided into three smaller horizontal divisions that are symmetrically distributed with angels, clusters, vines and more. Above them are two rows of icons - festive and with depictions of the apostles. In the central party is the large cross depicting Christ's crucifixion. On both sides of the cross are figures of a dragon, from whose mouths are raised the icons of St. John the Baptist and the Most Holy Mother of God.

Icon of Saint John the Baptist
Besides the iconostasis, the monastery is also known for the icon of St. John the Baptist is believed to have miraculous powers. According to tradition, the icon was found by the monk John in 1020. She came to the place where the monastery was later built and hovered over the springs of the river Radika. In the sixteenth century, during the reign of Sultan Selim II, the Ottomans burned the monastery, and the icon mysteriously disappeared, then returned even more mysteriously undamaged. The monastery records state that the icon of St. John the Baptist was not protected for 35 years and that it was not until 1885 that the icon was coated with silver armor. The icon of John the Baptist is depicted as a saint-traveler. It is believed that the hand-painted portrait is a blessing and that the icon helps parents who cannot have children.

According to legend, somebody from Albania came to the monastery of worship during the XVI century. The following year he received a son and donated all his property to St. John. He also promised to send olive oil to the monastery because such oil was produced on his property. Today, local residents believe that there is a board on the property of the Bey on which the saint's name is inscribed.





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