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Drugovo and Saint Mary monastery - spiritual center of the region

Flag of Drugovo Municipality, Macedonia

Drugovo was a municipality in western Macedonia – the biggest one in the Kichevo valley in its western and southern part and it was formed with the 1996 Territorial Division Law. The Gostivar-Kichevo-Ohrid main road goes through this region and there are also other local and regional roads.

Drugovo is a region with fine natural resources and its center is the village of the same name. According to the territorial division changes, the municipality was merged with the municipality of Kichevo after the local elections held on 24th March, along with the municipalities of Zajas, Vraneshtica and Oslomej. 

The locals say that Drugovo is the most beautiful and the most attractive place for living in the western part of Macedonia, under the beautiful hills of the Bistra Mountain. It borders with the mountain Stogovo west; Bushova Mountain east; the Kichevo valley north-east and is part of the upper flow area of the river Treska, which springs in this area.

Thanks to its geographical setting and the climate, geo-morphologic, pedologic and other characteristics there is a great diversity of flora and fauna. The area of 2.524 hectares is covered with forests, which are a great development potential because this region is known for its minor forest products and herbs.

There are 3.353 hectares of arable land with the corn, potato and wheat the main cultures. There are ideal conditions for organic production, production of healthy food, honey and bee products.

The region is rich with different ores and has a great hydro-potential with the rivers Treska, Studenchica and Belichka being nearby. Five municipalities and many other settlements get their quality drinking water from the river Studenchica through the water supply hydro-system.

Significant tourist potential

This region is attractive because of its great number of archaeological sites which represent a significant tourist potential that should be developed in the future.

For a successful economic development as well as cultural-historical and infrastructure development it is necessary that the natural benefits – the waters, forests, mineral and energy potentials are used.

The customs and traditions, hunting and fishing are the base for alternative tourism which is promoted as one of the priority branches of the future development of Drugovo.

Special care is taken of all religious objects and cultural-historical monuments, which preserves the traditional culture heritage and traditions. 

There are important cultural-historical monuments located in this area, with some of the more important being: The first Macedonian language school in the village of Podvis, the monument at the place where the great revolutionary and poet Kocho Racin was killed – on the Lopushnik Mountain, monuments of the revolutionaries from the Ilinden uprising – the one of Hristo Uzunov in the village of Cer and the one of Jordan Piperkata in the village of Kozica, and many others.

One of the most distinguished Christian educational-cultural sanctuaries in western Macedonia is located here – the monastery of Saint Mary, protector of the motherhood and life and a spiritual center of Kichevo and the region.

In the past, the monastery was called Krnin Monastery, a name still in use today. It is set on the mountain Cocan at an altitude of 920 meters. Even though the monastery is referred to as being from Kichevo, it is located in the area of the village of Drugovo.

The monastery is located 10 km away from Kichevo in the direction of Bitola. The Krnin monastery used to be 500 meters under the current one, and it was a center of the spreading of the Christianity in this part of Macedonia, along with the “Saint George” monastery from the village of Knezino. Both of them are long gone.

God determined the location of the new monastery

According to the legends, the monastery of Saint Mary was built in 1316 on the site of a former ancient temple, near the holy fountain, which is still visited by those who believe in its healing power. The fountain still exists, but the monastery was burned in 1558 by the Ottomans in a time when many churches and monasteries from the region of Kichevo were destroyed.

It revived centuries later – in 1848. The legend says that God determined the place where the new monastery complex, dedicated to the Mother of God, would be built. When the locals gathered at another site to start building the temple, it would leave the icon at that spot over the night. The icon was always missing the next morning and was found near a spring located in a different place. Later, they realized that it was God’s will and they built the monastery there. The Mother of God was on one side of the icon and Jesus Christ on the other.

The Christians and Muslims – under the same roof

This monastery is special in many ways. It is actually a holy temple of all believers, regardless of their religion. The interior was built in a way that both the Christians and Muslims can gather under the same roof, and they all equally respect the church. The part dedicated to the Muslims wasn’t painted with frescos.

Within the monastery complex, nestled to the southern walls of the church, is the little monastery dedicated to the Holy Father Nikola. Even though it is located in the same complex, it remains unknown to many people because the church completely overshadows it.

This monastery complex became the center of the Macedonian people’s revival and a great number of Russian nuns running from the charges of the red army found refuge and continued their spiritual life there.

The fact that Dositej, the first Archbishop of the revived autocephalous Macedonian Orthodox Church put on his monastic robe in the cells of the “Saint Mary” church, speaks volumes about its importance. There is a marble plate set on the door as a reminder that the first head of the revived Ohrid Archdiocese became a friar there in 1924.

The first canonization of saints in the Macedonian Orthodox Church happened in this monastery. According to the legend, three venerable martyrs – Evnuvij, Pajsij and Averkij – were friars here and died heroically while defending the Christian religion. The legend was written in a book, which was kept in the monastery and was used as the base of the biography of their suffering.

They got a celebration day, an icon and a service written on Mount Athos because of that. It is said that in mid-16th century the friary brotherhood from this monastery became a real comfort and support for the suffering people during the Ottoman reign. The word about their spiritual power reached as far as the Turks.

On 27th March 1558 they went to the holy brotherhood of Saint Mary. As usually, the friars and the present believers were gathered for a liturgy. When the church cherubic song started playing, father Averkij entered the temple and told the people that a great Ottoman army was approaching the monastery.

The friars Evnuvij, Pajsij and Averkij remained in the monastery while their brothers and believers went to the forest. After they were certain that the Ottomans left the monastery, they returned and saw a terrible image. Everything was destroyed.

The temple was in flames and the bodies of the three friars and spiritual teachers were laid at the spot of the monastery fountain. Their heads were cut off. The loss of these friars did not discourage the remaining brotherhood. They continued their monastic and educational work. In six years, a new temple was built.

Each year on 21st September a great number of people, not only from the region, but from all parts of the country and abroad, gather to celebrate the day of the Mother of God.

You are welcome on that holy day to visit the monastery where our first revivalists – Joakim Krchovski and Kiril Pejchinovic – used to stay and study.

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