Rostushe, North Macedonia, May 23, 2022
Abbots and monastic delegations from Mt. Athos and Bulgaria visited one of the most important monasteries of the newly-recognized Macedonian Orthodox Church over the weekend.
His Grace Bishop Partenij of Antania received Abbot Bartholomew of the Holy Mountain’s New Esphigmenou Monastery and Abbot Nikanor of the Monastery of the Holy Unmercenaries in Pernik, Bulgaria, at the Bigorsky St. John the Baptist on Saturday, the monastery reports.
According to the monastic typikon, the honored guests were received into the church under the ringing of the bells, where a doxology was served.
Greeting Fr. Bartholomew, Bp. Partenij emphasized that he is the first abbot from Mt. Athos to visit the monastery after the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople resolved to enter into communion with the Macedonian Church, which had been in schism from the Serbian Church for 55 years. The Holy Mountain falls under the jurisdiction of Constantinople.
His Grace emphasized:
For us, as for all Orthodox, the Holy Mountain means a lot. All that you see now in our monastery, this brotherhood, is thanks to the Mother of God, who once blessed and enlightened the venerable Elder George (Kapsanis) to open the doors of his heart and of his monastery to the first monks on Mount Athos from here. Thus, with the blessing of the Most Holy Mother of God from her sacred garden, through the holy elder of Grigoriou, the rebuilding of cenobitic monasticism began. And this is not only the case in recent history, but it has been so since ancient times. The grace-filled current of the Holy Mountain have always enlightened our monks and our people.
And turning to the topic of Patriarch Bartholomew, Bp. Partenij spoke of “a Patriarch whom we can freely call great. Namely, he became our second Photios the Great, similar to the first who sent Sts. Cyril and Methodius to transmit the light of the Gospel among the Slavs. Through the person of Patriarch Bartholomew and with his blessing to receive and accept us into the fold of the Church and into the family of the Orthodox, the second enlightenment happened for us.”
In turn, Abbot Bartholomew spoke about how the visit to North Macedonia wasn’t originally part of the agenda for the Esphigmenou delegation, but they were pleased to visit Bigorsky Monastery following the recent great events surrounding the Macedonian Church.
“The good God unconditionally opens all doors,” the Athonite abbot said, speaking of how God’s grace miraculously healed the schism after so many years.
“Darkness reigns everywhere, but let us remember that despite hardships, despite injustices, despite pain and death, and despite the absolute darkness that seems to rule the world, the Crucified One always wins,” Fr. Bartholomew exclaimed.