11th-century evangelist: The priceless heirloom, the theft from the monastery of Eikosifonissa and its return a century later.
An 11th-century evangelist returns to where he was stolen from, to the monastery of Panagia Eikosifinissa in Pangaio, after nearly a century of adventures at various auctions. The Museum of the Bible in Washington, which researched the evangelist’s journey, was its last owner. For the ceremonial return of the relic, the Archbishop of America, Elpidophoros, will be in Greece.
In a press conference given a few days ago, the Metropolitan of Xanthi made special reference to the event of the relic being returned to its original owner, sending a message to the Bulgarian authorities, underlining: “Let this event be a message to our neighbors, our co-religionists, the Bulgarians, to do what the Museum of the Bible is doing, to return what they took to their natural place”.
Evangelist of the 11th century: Theft in 1917 – How it was found at the Museum of the Bible
The Evangelistarium had been stolen during the Bulgarian occupation from the historic holy monastery of Panagia tis Eikosifinissa in Pangaio in 1917. In fact, it is the second handwritten relic that is returned to the monastery after the manuscript of a 9th-century text, Codex 1424, held by the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Chicago.
The manuscript, with classification number 220, concerns a parchment gospel that had disappeared for many years, as it was not among the stolen relics kept in the historical museum of Sofia. The Evangelistarium was stolen, among other manuscripts and relics, from Holy Monastery of Ikosifinissa in March 1917during the First Bulgarian occupation, and returns to its natural location by the voluntary decision of the Washington Museum of the Bible.
After an auction, in 2014 the great relic was found in the Museum of the Bible, which, in collaboration with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, investigated its origin and found that it is Evangelist number 220, coded, of the monastery of Ikosifonissa. In June 2020, the Museum of the Bible contacted the Ecumenical Patriarchate and announced that it intends to return the relic to its natural location. The Archimandrite was involved
THE official delivery of the heirloom is scheduled for Thursday, September 29, at the Holy Stavropegian Monastery of Panagia Eikosifinissa, in the presence of the Archbishop of America, Mr. Elpidophoros, who will represent the Ecumenical Patriarch, and the president of the Museum of the Bible. The ceremony will include a thanksgiving to the Virgin Mary for the repatriation of the important relic, the signing of the delivery and receipt protocol and the exchange of greetings.