Identified by Museum of the Bible curator Brian Hyland, this manuscript was among hundreds of priceless objects looted from the Theotokos Eikosiphoinissa (Kosinitza) Monastery by Bulgarian troops in 1917. Following the discovery of its origins, Museum of the Bible informed Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the world leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, of its desire to return the manuscript. We thank His All-Holiness for his warm letter of response in August 2020.
With the permission of the Patriarch, the museum displayed the manuscript, one of the world's oldest hand-lettered gospels, from October 2021. The Patriarch also loaned three more manuscripts as part of the collaboration in a permanent exhibit at Museum of the Bible and as a gesture of gratitude for the gospel manuscript's return. Museum of the Bible hopes that other collections in the US that also possess manuscripts from the monastery will likewise voluntarily return them to their rightful home. The museum looks forward to participating in a formal return ceremony at the monastery on Sept. 29.
The manuscript was most recently purchased from Christie’s in 2011 and entered the museum’s collection in 2014. Learn more about the museum’s research on the manuscript here.