Jovan Bigorski Monastery
Jovan Bigorski Monastery is located near the main road Gostivar – Debar. Two kilometers before the village Rostusa separates minor road of one kilometer in length, which leads to the Monastery of St. John (Jovan) Bigorski.
The monastery is located in a rarely beautiful place, with natural beauty landscapes. Built on the slopes of Mount Bistra, surrounded by lush forest and below the monastery, it in adjacent vicinity flow the clear waters of the river Radika, rich with diverse fish, mostly trout.
From the monastery spreads a beautiful view of the mountain Korab with its peaks Mal (Small) and Golem (Large) Krcin, as well as picturesque villages Rostusa, Velebrdo, Bituse and Trebiste placed in its surrounding rich with forests and meadows. Here adjacent are the villages Tresonce, Gari, Osoi, Galičnik Lazaropole, places from where originate a plead of engravers and painters from XVIII and XIX century.
With these villages are also tied the names of famous carvers Petre Filipovski called “Garka” and Makarie Frckovski, author of the iconostasis in the church St. Spas (Holy Salvation) in Skopje, the monastery church Gavril Lesnovski and St. John (Jovan) Bigorski monastery.
The monastery St. Jovan Bigorski is important not only for its beautiful carved iconostasis but also for the monastery quarters, the work of a master-masons from this region, which in that time were in groups as painters, engravers, painters and craftsmen-masons.
The iconostasis was made between 1830-1840, by the famous masters Petre Filipovski and Makarie Frckoski. The iconostasis in the monastery church of St. John Bigorski is a remarkable masterpiece of the master Petre Filipovski. The method for processing the iconostasis, the wealth of figures and compositions with motifs from the Old and New Testaments, rank the iconostasis among the best achievements of carving in Macedonia and the world.
It can be said that the history of monastery St. John Bigorski begins with the miraculous icon which is today kept in the monastery.
Namely, according to legend, at the time of the rule of Tsar Samuel (976 – 1014), on the beautiful and mystical slopes of Bistra mountain, lived a monk named John, who came from the Debar region. Once, in the forest, near the spring, John saw a light among the trees which arise at the sky. When John approached the light, he had seen a hovering icon depicting St. John, surrounded by radiance. Astonished and horrified, John fell to his knees and thanked God and his Baptist. Monk John immediately made sure to build a house for the icon – Temple for St. John the Baptist (Forerunner). Thus, John made a small chapel in which he placed the icon and every day he prayed and thanked the Lord. According to some sources, it is believed that this holy icon came to this region from the East, from where it originated. Due to the sacking of the monasteries of the Christian East, many icons were moved to the West (the Balkans) and were carried either by the angels of God, or the people. Also this holy icon of St. John, after its miraculous way it was found here. According to the legends, many miracles have occurred and are occurring connected to this sacred Icon.
In 1018 after the appointment of the monk John (1018-1037) for Archbishop of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, thanks to St. John, he said, six years after he found a miraculous icon, ie in 1020, where he found it, he built a larger temple, where later the monastic brotherhood started to gather. With that, John from Debar became the first patron of the St. John Bigorski monastery.
During its existence, the monastery was repeatedly destroyed and burned. Because the location of the monastery was such, located in the region of Western Macedonia which was full with robbers and bandits, there were numerous dangers for the monastery and some say only thanks to the wonders of St. John, the monastery survived.