The heart of St.Naum

On the almost farthest southwestern point in Macedonia, only one kilometer from the Albanian border, stands, 1100 years now, the monastery of Saint Naum and its church, Saint Archangel. Like all monastery builders, Saint Naum had an extraordinary sense of choosing the right place for construction – a cliff leaning just over the lake, caressed by the gentle murmur of the purply-crystal, virginal waters of Crni Drim, which has its source right in this spot, and immediately flows into the Lake Ohrid. Over the monastery there rises the mountain Galicica, covered with meadows where the most perfumed thyme, St. John’s wort and mountain tea grow. As if Naum was searching for a spot where he could use his healing powers to help people.

There are few sources which describe the life of St. Naum – three hagiographies were written about him and best known is the one written by the archbishop Constantine Cavasila (13th century).

Along with Clement, Angelarius and Gorazd, as one of the four best and most faithful followers of the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius, Naum leaves Great Moravia after the brothers’ death, persecuted by the German clergy. They seek sanctuary first in Sirmium, a bishop town of St.Andronik, and afterwards they travel through Beligrad, carrying the flame and light given by the holy brothers to Bulgaria, where Knyaz Boris intended to convert the population to Christianity. Clement and Naum wouldn’t be separated, but still the knyaz sends Clement to Kutmichevica, while Naum resides in the monastery of St. Archangel near Pliska. He joins Clement in their motherland after seven long years. In 893 Clement receives indications that he will be ordained bishop of Ohrid and knowing that Naum’s heart beats for Ohrid, he writes to Knyaz Simeon: ”I know of his pain… Tired and sick is he… He wishes to spend the rest of his life in the place where he was born, which he, as I myself did, left behind as a young boy. Let father Naum come to me. Who else could continue the work that I have started in Kutmichevica? It could be only him.”

And that is how, with feeble strength but great enthusiasm, Naum joins Clement in Ohrid, where not long afterwards, he begins building his monastery. There he creates a monastic brotherhood, a literary school, and he utilizes his miraculous power to cure people, especially those suffering from spiritual illnesses.

He passes away in 910 and finds eternal peace in his monastery, lying in the tomb placed in the chapel in the southern part of the church.

Even after his death, miracles didn’t cease to happen. As a proof there are the five frescoes on the walls of his chapel depicting the scenes:” A harnessed bear in a yoke”, “The stiffening of the monk who tried to steal Saint Naum’s body”, “The healing of the mentally ill”, “A horse thief who stayed in front of the monastery church until dawn” and “The bucket leaves a hole in the stone”.

According to the sources of the monastery, in 1662 there used to be a hospital, and two centuries later a linguistic center, where some of the most prominent representatives of the Macedonian literature, like Dimitar Miladinov, got their education (The church itself is of great importance for the linguistics because of the writings in Cyrillic and Glagolitic alphabet dating from the 10th till the 10th century, one of the oldest written evidences of the Slavonic literacy).

Another proof that St. Naum even after his death can perform miracles is the fate of his monastery: it has been destroyed before the coming of the Ottomans and restored in the 15th/16th century. The iconostasis carved in wood is manufactured by unknown craftsmen in 1711, and four years after the fire of 1802 the restored church and chapel were picturesquely decorated by the woodcutter Trpo from Korçë. His father Constantine was the one who manufactured the five large sanctuary icons. Another fire in 1875 destroyed parts of the monks’ quarters but they are restored and today parts of them serve as an outstanding hotel.

However, even till this day, after centennial hardships, if you place your ear over the tombstone of his sarcophagus, you will hear Saint Naum’s heart still beating.