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Religions in Macedonia
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St. Kliment Church SkopjeThe Macedonian Constitution guarantees the freedom of religious confession.

"The right to express one's faith freely and publicly, individually or with others, is guaranteed."

"The Macedonian Orthodox Church and other religious communities and groups are separate from the state and equal before the law." (Article 19)

There are 20 registered and active religious communities in Macedonia. The relations and cooperation between the state and religious communities are overseen by an independent Commission for Religious Affairs of the Macedonian Government. As a result of the concern of both state and religious communities to foster cooperation, in Macedonia there are no conflicts or any serious problems in this respect. Interethnic and inter-religious relations are characterised by a tendency towards the strengthening of understanding and a preference for what is common and of general interest for the people, such as the preservation of peace, personal security, and family progress.

Archdeacon Aleksandar Candovski

Macedonian Orthodox Church

lesnovo monasteryThe Macedonian Orthodox Church has a long history of education and enlightenment in a so called Eastern sense, which differs from the general Western understanding of this notion. The enlightener is God and enlightening is not confined only to the human mind, but reaches the deepest aspects of humanity. This becomes natural through the fact that Macedonia (Ohrid) was the seat of the first Slavic university in the 9th century. Its founder and head was St. Clement of Ohrid, who was also the first bishop of Slavic origin. The university educated some 3,500 disciples, who were -- together with their teachers -- the first intellectual potential of the Slavic world.

The church has a secondary school and a school of religious studies in Skopje. It also has its own web site ( and most of its provinces publish magazines and books.

The Macedonian Orthodox Church celebrates its feasts according to the Yulian calendar (old style) and services are held in Macedonian or in Old Church Slavic language.

The Macedonian Orthodox Church has 10 provinces (seven in Macedonia and three abroad), 10 bishops, and about 350 priests. Macedonians, who are the majority of Macedonia's population, are Christian Orthodox (about 1,700,000 or 65%-70% of the entire population). Outside Macedonia, the church has some 1 million believers under its jurisdiction. A total of 30,000 people are baptized in all the provinces every year.

"The phenomenon called Macedonian monasteries is the most expressive synonym of Macedonia, the sound of our blood circulation, because there has yet been no better name to summarize Macedonia than the institution of the monastery," a prominent Macedonian poet has said. The lives of monks and nuns, their prayers, and their exploits are interwoven not only with the Macedonian culture and education, but also with the very soil of this country. One cannot leave Lake Ohrid without a lifelong impression of the unique harmony between the country's nature and spirit. Amen, amen I say to you that man would deify himself and that the creation would be sanctified. This lake had been the cradle of hesychism before Mount Athos developed into heaven on earth and it maintained its bond with this spiritual center of Orthodoxy. This place -- as many others in Macedonia -- bears witness to the continuing efforts for the sanctification of this unique God-given Earth and to the potential of the man within, whom God has made immortal.

Father Igor Kalpakoski

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