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27 11 2011
COMMUNIQUE

Armenian Patriarchate
of Jerusalem
17 November 2011


COMMUNIQUE


“I have saved from captivity this precious garden, this fragrant orchard, this pure and shining book in memory of myself and my parents, my wife, and my children. Blessed is he with a child in Zion” (Matenadaram MS.142)
On Tuesday 15th November, 2011 an event without precedent was held in the Convent of St James’ Jerusalem, in the presence of His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, Members of the Brotherhood of St James and invited guests form the Armenian community.
The occasion was to mark the handing over of two illuminated vellum leaves that once belonged to one of the most magnificent royal manuscripts in the collection of the Armenian Patriarchate. The manuscript in question is the Gospel commissioned by Queen Keran for her husband and future king Levon II/III of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. The manuscript was copied by the scribe Avetis in the capital city of Sis in 1272 and illuminated by the most celebrated artist of the Cilician period Toros Roslin active between 1256 to 1272.


                          Toros Roslin            Toros Roslin


The two miniatures repatriated represent the portrait of the Evangelist St Mark (folio 115v) and the Ascension (fol.284v) torn out of the manuscript unlawfully around hundred years ago. Until recently the two leaves were part of the Icons and East Christian Works of Artbelonging to the Dutch collector of antiquities Mr.Michel Van Rijn. In 1989 the present owner Mr. Thanassis Martinos who had purchased through a Greek dealer the entire collection of Mr. Michel Van Rijn, in May of this year on the suggestion of Mr.Timothy Bolton,Medieval manuscript expert at Sotheby’s London contacted Reverend Dr Vrej Nersessian, Curator in charge of the Christian Middle East section in the British Library (formerly the British Museum) for expert opinion on the provenance of the two miniatures.
Having investigated the matter and provided the required documentation of proof of the unlawful removal of the leaves from the Queen Keran Gospels, Mr. Thanassis Martinos graciously agreed to return the miniatures as gift to the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
With full authorization from the Armenian Patriarch, Reverend Dr Vrej Nerses Nersessian facilitated the restitution of the two leaves and was invited to Jerusalem to hand over to the Patriarchate the two leaves formerly part of Jerusalem Armenian Manuscript 2653.

Reverend Nersessian caught both the spirit and substance of the occasion in his presentation in which he highlighted the place of manuscript in Armenian culture, the history of the Queen Keran Gospels, demonstrated the location of the two torn leaves in the Queen Keran Gospels and finally passed on the custodianship of the two leaves to His Beatitude, Archbishop Torkom Manoogian Armeinan Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Archbishop Nourhan Manougian, Grand Sacristan of the See of St. James’ Jerusalem, and the Sacristan, the Very Rev. Parsegh Kalemderian, who then duly signed the document of receivership. Thus after a century of absence the two leaves missing from the Queen Keran Gospels found their way back ‘to their original home’.
At the opening of program, the Very Rev. Samuel Aghoyan presented the biographical sketch of Rev. Nerses Nersessian.
For his labour of love and dedication in pursuing the return of the two leaves, His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manougian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem and Archbishop Nourhan Manougian, Grand Sacristan of the See of St. James’ Jerusalem, jointly presented Father Nerses a pectoral cross, on behalf of the Brotherhood of St. James’ Jerusalem.

The proceedings concluded with the singing of the hymn of the Patriarchate followed by a reception.


Divan of the Armenian
Patriarchate



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