Drama, Greece, September 30, 2022
More than a century after it was looted from its Greek monastery home, a rare 11th-century Gospel manuscript has been officially handed back to the monastery by the U.S.-based museum that owned it for the past several years.
The manuscript, known as Evangelistary 220, was returned to the monastery on August 29, though its return was marked with a formal ceremony yesterday, with representatives of the monastery and the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., which purchased the manuscript at auction in 2011, unaware that it was one of hundreds of priceless objects looted from the Panagia Eikosifinissa Monastery in Drama, Greece, by invading Bulgarian troops in 1917.
The event was dedicated to the late Metropolitan Pavlos of Drama, who labored tirelessly for the return of looted sacred items to their homes in Greece, and timed to the city’s day of remembrance for the victims of the massacre by Bulgarian troops, reports the Orthodoxia News Agency.
The protocol for the official handing over was signed by Abbess Gerontissa Antonini and the museum founder and chairman Steven Green. The ceremony was also attended by several hierarchs, including Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America representing the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The program began with a Doxology in the monastery cathedral, after which Mr. Green was awarded the Grand Cross of the Holy Metropolis of Drama. Abp. Elpidophoros thanked the museum head for the return of the precious manuscript, which was initiated by the museum itself.