Klenike, Serbia, August 4, 2022
Several hierarchs of the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric made an historic visit to St. Prohor of Pčinja Monastery in southern Serbia on Tuesday, August 2, to celebrate the feast of the Prophet Elijah.
The local Serbian Orthodox hierarch, His Grace Bishop Pahomije of Vranje, was joined by His Grace Bishop David of Stobi of the Ohrid Archdiocese, and His Eminence Metropolitan Grigorije of Kumanovo and His Grace Bishop Jakov, vicar of His Eminence Metropolitan Naum of Strumica, of the Macedonian Church, the monastery reports.
In addition to the feast, the people of North Macedonia also honor the day, known as Ilinden (Elijah’s Day), as the anniversary of the 1903 revolt against the Ottoman Empire and of the first session of the Anti-Fascist Assembly of the People’s Liberation of Macedonia (ASNOM) in 1944, which was held at the monastery, considered the safest location in the country, which wasn’t fully liberated at the time. Both events are honored as foundational for modern Macedonian statehood.
This was the first time in two decades that Serbia allowed a North Macedonian delegation to visit the monastery, reports Balkan Insight.
In the Liturgy, Bp. David offered a homily following the reading of the Gospel.
Following the service, all the hierarchs participated in the solemn awarding of the Order of St. Prohor of Pčinja to the Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Selaković, recognizing his services in marking the 950th anniversary of the monastery last summer.
At 12:30, a delegation from North Macedonia, led by President Stevo Pendarovski, was welcomed in front of the chapel erected in memory of the historical events that took place in the monastery, and the delegation laid flowers in front of the ASNOM memorial plaque.
The group then made its way to the church, where they venerated the myrrh-streaming relics of St. Prohor.
“I hope that this is the beginning of a good tradition in which August 2, our ‘second Ilinden’ will be celebrated here, where we would be able to properly pay tribute to those who have established Macedonian statehood,” Pres. Pendarovski told reporters at the monastery.
Following the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Serbia began preventing delegations from North Macedonia from visiting the monastery on Ilinden, and eventually from visiting altogether.
Tuesday’s historic visit comes just after the Serbian Church granted autocephaly to the Macedonian Church.