Every second Saturday of the month, 4 pm - Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ. Followed by refreshments.
Next Liturgy: Saturday 9th June - 3pm Great Vespers, 4pm Divine Liturgy for Sunday

To purchase The Divine Liturgy: an Anthology for Worship (in English), order from the Sheptytsky Institute here, or the St Basil's Bookstore here.

To purchase the Divine Praises, the Divine Office of the Byzantine-Slav rite (in English), order from the Eparchy of Parma here.

The new catechism in English, Christ our Pascha, is available from the Eparchy of the Holy Family and the Society. Please email johnchrysostom@btinternet.com for details.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Egypt's mysterious monastery hides ancient secrets - Spears

Egypt's mysterious monastery hides ancient secrets
An ancient monastery in northern Egypt is a treasure trove of early Christian manuscripts and artefacts -- with a little mystery thrown in too. By Teresa Levonian Cole - Spears - 6 February 2014


'I have laid an anathema, by the word of God, on anyone who erases this note or effaces it, or who removes this book from the monastery for whatever reason. If anyone dares do so, let God's anathema, wrath and curse be upon him.' (Note of Abbot Mushe on a Syriac manuscript of Deir al-Surian, now in the Vatican)

One day in March 1837, the Honourable Robert (later Lord) Curzon, dressed in the long robes of a merchant of the East, mounted a camel in Cairo and, with Arab guides braving the djinns of the desert, headed off into the Sahara in search of manuscripts. He was not the first European to have heard of the fabled library of Deir al-Surian.

In the early 18th century, Pope Clement XI had sent his own emissaries to the Western Desert to acquire manuscripts for the Vatican. Other bibliophiles followed, to the enrichment of libraries from London to St Petersburg. The monks, taking fright at their dwindling stocks, battened down the hatches: from the mid-19th century to the dawn of the 21st the world was led to believe there was nothing left to take.

But -- in the sequel to a story that pitches Indiana Jones' acquisitiveness against Umberto Eco's hermeticism, with prerequisite curses and imprecations that everyone ignored -- the arrival of a London-based paper conservator in 1996 would change all that. Her visit would eventually lead to the creation of a new monastic library building for some 2,500 bound texts and fragments, along with the revelation that Deir al-Surian remains the repository of some of the most ancient and significant texts in the world.

Deir al-Surian, 'Monastery of the Syrians', is a Coptic Orthodox monastery dedicated to the Holy Virgin in Wadi el-Natrun, the biblical Desert of Scetis. Known as a cradle of Christian monasticism, from the early years of the first millennium the region attracted anchorites, following the example of the apostle St Mark.

By the end of the 3rd century, monastic communities began to develop, eventually flourishing into 600 monasteries in the Western Desert. Deir al-Surian, founded in the 6th century, is one of only four to have survived, its Coptic community welcoming into the fold both Ethiopian and (until the 17th century) Syrian monks, after whom the monastery became known.

Capital outflow
The sprawling suburbs of Cairo have encroached upon much of the surrounding wilderness. But follow the Desert Highway for a 90-minute drive north-west from the capital and you will reach a timeless oasis that lies behind Deir al-Surian's 40-foot blush-coloured walls.

Above these 10th-century defences peep the domes of churches, whose treasures -- including magnificent frescoes dating from the 7th century -- most visitors have come to see. Also visible are palm fronds, spires and, in the north-west corner, a squat tower complete with drawbridge, which is where this story begins.


Read the full fascinating article in Spears Magazine, here:
Egypt's mysterious monastery hides ancient secrets - Spears
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