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xx January 2020

Cultural Heritage — Sanctification of the Monastery St. Jovan Bigorski Centenary

North Macedonia: Sanctification of the Monastery St. Jovan Bigorski Centenary, January 2020. Image from Sinisa’s Stamps.

The Monastery of Saint Jovan Bigorski (Свети Јован Бигорски) is a Macedonian Orthodox monastery located in the western part of North Macedonia, near the road connecting the towns of Debar and Gostivar.

The monastery church is dedicated to St. John the Baptist. One of its most valuable treasures is the iconostasis, created by Petre Filipovic – Garkata from the nearby village of Gari, and considered one of the finest examples of wood-carved iconostases.

According to its 1833 chronicle, the monastery was built in 1020 by Ivan I Debranin. The Ottomans destroyed the monastery in the 16th century, but it was restored in 1743 by the monk Ilarion, who also constructed a number of cells for monks. The archimandrite Arsenius further expanded the monastery between 1812 and 1825. The historical record also mentions a monk Iov, recognized by some researchers as the future educator Yoakim Karchovski.

Monastery Sveti Jovan Bigorski (Манастир „Свети Јован Бигорски“) in Macedonia. Photo taken on 7 June 2007 by Elen Schurova,

Most of the old monastery complex was destroyed by a fire in 2009, while the new sections of the complex and church were saved. Reconstruction of the old sections began in May 2010 with the goal of restoring the buildings as closely as possible to their original style.

The monastery has a large collection of holy relics including John the Baptist, Clement of Ohrid, Lazarus of Bethany, Saint Stephen, Saint Nicholas, Saint Barbara, Paraskevi of Rome, Tryphon, Respicius, and Nympha, and part of the Holy Cross.

Another valuable monastery treasure is an icon dating from 1020 with supposedly miraculous healing power.

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