Friday, July 13, 2012

Built in 397, Oldest Christian Monastery At Risk in Turkey

The Mongolians failed to destroy it 700 years ago despite the massacre of 40 friars and 400 Christians. Yet the existence of the oldest functioning Christian monastery in the world, the fifth century Mor Gabriel Monastery in the Tur Abdin plane (the mountain of God's servants) near the Turkish-Syrian border, is at risk after a ruling by Turkey's highest appeals court in Ankara.
Founded in 397 by the monks Samuel and Simon, Mor Gabriel in eastern Anatolia has been the heart of the Orthodox Syrian community for centuries. Syriacs hail from a branch of Middle Eastern Christianity and are one of the oldest communities in Turkey.

Today the monastery is inhabited by Mor Timotheus Samuel Aktash, 3 monks, 11 nuns and 35 boys who are learning the monastery's teachings, the ancient Aramaic language spoken by Jesus and the Orthodox Syriac tradition.
Although the monastery is situated in an area at the centre of conflicts between Kurdish separatist with the armed PKK group and the Turkish army, Mor Gabriel welcomes 20,000 pilgrims every year.

The Syriac Orthodox community - estimated to be 2.5 million across the world - is under the authority of the Patriarch of Antioch and considers the monastery a 'second Jerusalem'.

Via http://wardworldhistory.blogspot.com/2012/07/built-in-397-oldest-christian-monastery.html