Matka, known as “Small Mount Athos”, was created and kept by God, in а prayerful intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos, where hermits, monks, martyrs, and saints lived. Where the spirit and breath of the past harmoniously welcomes you into the present.
It is a place where devotion, fidelity, and sacrifice for the Love of God, stole the humble souls of the monks who lived here. So today, it wakes in us a yearning for Gods beauty of the Orthodox faith they had witnessed, and the cultural wealth that was left behind.
To each of the pilgrims, from the bottom of our hearts we wish; May the visit of this sacred place bring you and everyone close to you, the blessings only God can give.
The only monastery of Matka which has continuous monastic life, with only minor interruptions of a few years (mainly in the 20th century), is the Monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos – Matka. Reestablished in 1337, on a broad flattened terrace on the left bank on the river Treska, at its expanding exit from the rocky gorge.
According to the Codex led by the monks, and the developed literary activity, until the 50s of the 20th century it was home to monastic brotherhood. There is a small period of 20 years when sisterhood comes from Hopovo. The last monks in the 70s were the monk Cyril and the Venerable Gabriel Velichki – who after returning from Mount Athos, lived in the monastery and through the caves in Matka, during his studies at the Faculty of Theology. Since 1998. with the blessing of Archbishop Michael, a sisterhood lives in the monastery.
The typikon of the monastery is according to the athonite – ascetical-hesychastic tradition, based on the Jesus prayer: Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me (us).
“The Jesus’ prayer, intimate and personal, never separated the individual from the church community, but in a supernatural way was constantly connected with it, because Christ, whom the prayer is looking for in the human heart, the Divine name she calls, can be found inside the heart in such measure, as the man, through the holy baptism and the Eucharist is rooted in the body of the Church” (St. Gregory Palamas).
Again, do not forget, every gift we receive through Her, especially the gift of the mind-hearted prayer (the unceasing Jesus prayer in the heart). Her wonderful Name with love fills our hearts – Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.
Since the restoration of the monastic life in the monastery of Matka in 1998, the atelier for production of liturgical and church vestments was established, for the necessities of the Macedonian Orthodox Church and wider.
We draw our inspiration from the rich treasury of church ornaments and frescoes, as well as the authentic patterns of folk costumes that were created and left to us by our ancestors centuries ago, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
The atelier is a small workshop with a capacity of 5 people. The concept of our work is creating pious, unique and durable vestments. Every new vestment is a whole new project, starting from design, embroidering, tailoring, sewing to final product. For one pair of vestments, sometimes is necessary a few months period of work.
Sisterhood of the monastery starts its day early in the morning hours by gathering on synaxis, where they read short lectures from the holy fathers, as a preparation for the prayer rule with the Jesus prayer in their cells, until the start of the daily duties in the monastery. During the accomplishing of the daily obediences, sisters nurture silence and constant quiet fulfillment of the Jesus prayer.
Nature is a God-given treasury, filled with abundant types of plants, which properly harvested, dried and treated, become true remedies for the various illnesses we face in our modern, dynamic way of life.
Creating designs for vestments, encouraged us to learn and study the iconography, mosaics, calligraphy, frescoes, treasuries with vestments, but also the traditional, mostly Macedonian, woven and embroidered costumes. That alone prompt a small creative impulse in us, the realization of which is this studio.
The design of the church is that of a narrow, indented cross with a dome, supported by a four-wall square base. In the outer wall of the church are embedded stone remains from the early Christian period, also from the basilica ( VI century) above which it is believed the church have been built.
The Christian temples from the medieval period are worthy indicators of the Macedonian medieval church history and art, and of the Macedonian spiritual and artistic heritage. They can be compared with nothing else that has been created by man, as they go beyond everything in every respect, because they symbolize the Heavenly Kingdom here on earth. This is exactly why the builders and the Iconographers avoided signing their names, because they knew that this was the work of God, a gift from God, or, through their hands, Gods own creation.
The monastic quarter was built in the XIX century, when certain repairs were made in the vault of the church. There was an entry recorded in one of the cells (rooms) in the lodging:
“At that time it was Avksentiy monk 1851 September 10 day – to be known that Ilija Stanoev made a room for health and salvation, amen”
Since the establishment of the sisterhood at the monastery in 1998, all services, except the Liturgy, are held by the sisters in the chapel of St. Gregory Palamas and St. Naum of Ohrid, which was then founded as part of the monastic residence. In 2000, when the new carved wooden iconostasis was placed in the church, with new icons, the old 18th century iconostasis was incorporated into the chapel.
From the period when monastery Codex was writen there are several Church-Slavonic books in manuscript on which are left records that are also the property of the monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos in Matka.
They were written, and used during the services, in the period from the XIV to the beginning of the XX century.
They are a testimony to the literary activity of the monks in the monastery, continuously through the five century’s, following in the footsteps of the Slavic teachers Saints Cyril and Clement of Ohrid, whose frescoes were also painted in the altar of the monastery church.