High-ranking Delegation of the Museum of the Bible Visits the Ecumenical Patriarch
On Tuesday, 27 September 2022, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received the esteemed Mr. Steve Green, Founder and Chairman of the Board of the Museum of the Bible, based in Washington, D.C., together with his associates, Dr. Jeffrey Kloha, Chief Curatorial Officer, Dr. Brian Hyland, Associate Curator of Medieval Manuscripts, and Professor Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou, Member of the Museum’s Advisory Board.
The meeting took place in the context of the cooperation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate with the American Foundation, and of the forthcoming official event for the repatriation of Evangelistary Manuscript 220, on 29 September, to be held at the Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of Eikosiphoinissa, from where the manuscript was stolen by Bulgarian combatants in 1917 along with many of its other artifacts. It is noted that the event is dedicated to the memory of the recently departed Metropolitan Pavlos of Drama.
In attendance during today’s meeting were H.E. Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, H.E. Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, who will represent His All-Holiness at the event to be held at Eikosiphoinissa Monastery, and the V. Rev. Grand Archimandrite Agathangelos, Archivist of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, who, together with Prof. Dr. E. Prodromou, has been appointed by His All-Holiness as coordinator of the collaboration with the American Foundation, representing the Patriarchate.
His All-Holiness thanked the Museum of the Bible’s leadership for the Foundation’s fruitful and substantial collaboration with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, praising it, once again, for the return of the Evangelistary manuscript, and noted that this is an act worthy of imitation, which promisingly contributes to the repatriation of the remaining appropriated manuscripts and ecclesiastical artifacts to their historic and natural home, namely the Monastery.
Historical note on the Evangelistary’s repatriation:
Immediately after the manuscript’s identification, Dr. Jeffrey Kloha addressed a letter, dated 20 June 2020, to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, informing His All-Holiness that, within the framework of the said Museum’s cooperation with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a decision was reached to return Evangelistary 220 to its subsidiary, Eikosiphoinissa Monastery.
In response, His All-Holiness expressed his gratitude for this decision in an official Patriarchal Letter sent on 31 August 2020, stating that it constitutes a restorative act of Eikosiphoinissa Monastey’s rightful cultural heritage. Moreover, he emphasized that “it is a true blessing for the monastic sisterhood and the Christian world to see the religious artifacts that were removed from the Monastery officially return to their natural home and used hereafter for the spiritual edification of the faithful, and by art and history scholars.”
Subsequently, on 16 October 2020, the Museum of the Bible officially publicized its decision to return Eikosiphoinissa Monastery’s Evangelistary Manuscript 220. Before its repatriation, the significant manuscript was exhibited in a distinct showcase within the Museum as part of a temporary exhibition of the Ecumenical Patriarchate that was installed on 25 October 2021.
On 14 May 2022, the Ecumenical Patriarch signed the deed issued by the Museum of the Bible transferring ownership of Evangelistary Manuscript 220 to the Holy Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of Eikosiphoinissa, where it was returned on 31 August of this year, and is now being housed under special conditions.
Addendum: On 31 January 2020, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Museum of the Bible signed a Memorandum of Cooperation, which provides for the creation of a permanent exhibition of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the Museum’s fourth floor, dedicated to the History of the Bible, as well as the joint planning of temporary exhibitions. The Washington, D.C.-based Museum draws one million visitors annually and has developed similar collaborations with the Vatican Library and the Israel Antiquities Authority.