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Return Of A Stolen Manuscript

A 1,000-year-old manuscript was forcibly taken from the Eikosiphoinissa Monastery (also known as Kosinitza Monastery) in Greece during the First World War. The US recently returned this rare manuscript to the southeastern European country. Greece is happy to have the manuscript back, as the 11th Century gospel is considered as a product of research works.

Athens had been searching for the manuscript for a long time. Eventually, the Greek officials came to know that a museum in the US had many of their documents, including the manuscript. In 2015, Greece asked the US to return them voluntarily. Later in 2019, the two countries started conducting a research to find out the real owner of those documents. The US, then, decided to return the manuscript to Greece next year, and finally, Greece received the stolen manuscript in October 2022.

The Manuscript

According to the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC, the manuscript was written in a Greek monastery in southern Italy in the late 10th Century or early 11th Century. At some point of time, it was transferred to Eikosiphoinissa Monastery in Greece. The manuscript had been there for hundreds of years. The Bulgarian Army invaded Greece in 1917 (during the First World War), and looted more than 400 valuable manuscripts, documents, books, and other articles from the monastery. Most of the looted items are sold in different parts of Europe, while several documents, including the hand-written manuscript, found their places in US museums.

Earlier in October, officials of the Museum of the Bible returned the 11th Century gospel to the Eikosiphoinissa Monastery at a ceremony in the presence of Greek Orthodox Archbishop Elpidophoros. The Archdiocese of the US has claimed that the Greek manuscript is one of the world’s oldest hand-written gospels. Elpidophoros has praised the Museum of the Bible for its “courtesy in recognising where (the manuscript) belongs and returning it”, stressing: “A historical injustice has been redressed.

Eikosiphoinissa Monastery

It may be noted that the Bulgarian occupation forces, allied with Nazi Germany during the Second World War, set the Greek monastery, which dates back to the 8th Century, on fire in 1943. The Greek authorities rebuilt the monastery after the Second World War. Currently, it functions as a convent.

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