[ditty_news_ticker id="27897"] Museum of the Bible Delegation Received by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Museum of the Bible Delegation Received by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

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Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Photo Credits: Nikos Papachristou / Ecumenical Patriarchate

PHANAR — After nearly a year of preparations, “Kosinitza Manuscript 220” will return to the Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of Theotokos Eikosiphoinissa in Drama, Greece. The manuscript, which was most recently purchased from Christie’s in 2011 and entered the collection of Washington D.C.’s Museum of the Bible in 2014, was among hundreds of priceless objects looted from the Monastery by Bulgarian troops in 1917. Following the discovery of its origins by curator Brian Hyland, the Museum of the Bible began working in collaboration with the His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for the repatriation of the manuscript to the monastery from which it was stolen.
As final preparations are underway for the official event marking the occasion of the manuscript’s repatriation, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received the Museum’s official delegation at the Phanar on Tuesday, September 27, 2022. Representing the Museum were Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors Mr. Steve Green, Chief Curator Dr. Jeffrey Kloha, Dr. Brian Hyland, Assistant Curator of the museum’s Medieval Manuscripts Collection, as well as Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou, member of the museum’s Advisory Council. Also joining the meeting were His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America—who will be the official representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch at the formal repatriation event— and the Very Reverend Archimandrite Agathangelos Siskos, Chief Archivist of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Both Archimandrite Agathangelos and Dr. Prodromou have been appointed by His All-Holiness as Patriarchal liaisons responsible for coordinating the collaboration between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Museum of the Bible.
During the meeting, His All-Holiness thanked the leadership of the Museum of the Bible for their productive cooperation with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, praising it, once again, for the return of the manuscript, noting that their act is an example worthy of imitation and contributes to the repatriation of the other “orphan” manuscripts and ecclesiastical relics to their “natural mother, that is, the Monastery.”
The official event marking the occasion of the return of the manuscript to the monastery will take place on Thursday, September 29, 2022 and will be dedicated to the memory of the late Metropolitan Pavlos of Drama.
The History of the Repatriation of the Manuscript
The Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Museum of the Bible signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on January 31, 2020, which provides for the creation of a permanent exhibition of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the fourth floor of the Museum. Within the context of this cooperation, the provenance of “Kosinitza Manuscript 220” was traced to the looting of the Monastery in 1917. After the identification, Dr. Jeffrey Kloha addressed a letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on June 20, 2020, in which he informed him of the Museum of the Bible’s decision to return the manuscript to the Monastery.
In response, His All-Holiness sent an official Patriarchal letter on August 31, 2020, expressing his thanks for this action, stating that it is an act of restoration of the legal and cultural heritage of the Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of Panagia Eikosiphoinissa. Among other things, he stressed that, “it is a true blessing for the monastic brotherhood and the Christian world, to see the religious treasures, which were removed from the Monastery, to officially return to their natural space and to be used for the spiritual edification of the faithful, as well as by the scholars of history and art.”
Subsequently, on October 16, 2020, the Museum of the Bible officially announced the decision to return the manuscript. Before its repatriation, the important manuscript was displayed as part of a temporary exhibition on the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which opened on October 25, 2021.
On May 14, 2022, the Ecumenical Patriarch signed the deed issued by the Museum of the Bible which officially transferred ownership of the manuscript to the Holy Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery, to which it was returned on August 31, 2022, and where it is now kept.

 

Joint Statement of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Museum of the Bible

DRAMA, Greece — On Thursday, September 29, 2022, an 11th-century Greek Gospel manuscript was officially repatriated to the Theotokos Eikosiphoinissa (Kosinitza) Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery by the Museum of the Bible. One of the world’s oldest hand-lettered gospels, Gospel Manuscript 220 is among the 470 religious objects and 430 manuscripts looted from the Monastery in 1917 by Bulgarian Forces.

“When the Museum of the Bible discovered that this text was illegally and rapaciously taken from the Monastery, it moved quickly, responsibly and professionally to see to its restoration and repatriation. We cannot express enough our gratitude to the Green Family and the Museum for their Christian and professional service,” said Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, who represented His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew during the formal return ceremony at the Monastery in Drama, Greece.

Before journeying to Drama, Museum Founder and Board Chairman Mr. Steve Green, Chief Curatorial Officer Dr. Jeff and Ms. Susan Kloha, and Associate Curator of Medieval Manuscripts Dr. Brian Hyland, who first identified the origins of the text, met with His All-Holiness at the Phanar to learn more about the Ecumenical Patriarchate. They were accompanied by Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou, member of the museum’s Advisory Board and chief facilitator of the institution’s collaboration with the Greek Orthodox Church. With the Patriarch’s permission, the Museum of the Bible had begun displaying the manuscript in October 2021, in time for His All-Holiness’s Apostolic Visit to Washington, DC that Fall.

“Museum of the Bible is honored by the collaboration with the Ecumenical Patriarchate to exhibit the history of the Bible in the Greek world in Washington,” said Mr. Green, founder and chairman of Museum of the Bible. “I was humbled to be received by His All-Holiness in Istanbul, and I pray for continued blessings on him and the growth of the Orthodox Church. We look forward to celebrating the return of the gospel manuscript to the Theotokos Eikosiphoinissa monastery in the days ahead.”

At Kosinitza, today a women’s monastery, museum leadership was received by His Eminence Metropolitan Panteleimon of Xanthi and the Right Reverend Abbess Geronitissa Antonini. Following a Doxology service officiated by Archbishop Elpidophoros, Mr. Green was awarded the highest honor of the Metropolis of Drama— the “Grand Cross”— by Metropolitan Panteleimon. The return ceremony was dedicated to the memory of the late Metropolitan Pavlos of Drama.

“You have set an example for others to follow, and we pray that they do,” Archbishop Elpidophoros said. “But above all else, you have manifested your commitment to the One Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, because you have not allowed the sinful actions of those long dead to prevail. You have chosen the way of the Resurrection, ‘the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory.’” (Full Remarks)

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has loaned three more manuscripts as part of this collaboration for a permanent exhibit at the Museum of the Bible and as a gesture of gratitude for the gospel manuscript’s return. Both the Greek Orthodox Church and the Museum of the Bible express their hope that other collections in the United States in possession of manuscripts from the Kosinitza monastery will likewise voluntarily return them to their rightful home.

 

The Holy Book of Gosepls, once known as “Kozinitsa Manuscript 220,” is returned to its home at the Monastery.

 

Mr. Steve Green, Founder and Chairman of Museum of the Bible, and Right Reverend Abbess Geronitissa Antonini of Kosinitza Monastery.

 

The Holy Book of Gosepls, once known as “Kozinitsa Manuscript 220,” is returned to its home at the Monastery.

 

“You have set an example for others to follow, and we pray that they do,” His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America said.


 

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