An Exhibition on the Historical Role of the Church in Iraq

Source: FSSPX News

Father Nageeb Michaeel.

Iraqi manuscripts salvaged from the iconoclastic barbarism of the Islamic State are currently on display in Rome: they show the historical and beneficial presence of the Catholic Church throughout all the country’s history.

The Great Moments of the Iraqi Manuscripts is the theme chosen for this exceptional exposition in the Dominican convent of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome, on display from June 10 to 17, 2017.

The library of the Dominican convent in Mosul, in northern Iraq, was home to over 800 manuscripts, the oldest —Syriac, Chaldean, and Arabic— dating from the 13th century. It also had exceptional photos from the convents archives. Fr. Nageeb Michaeel, a Dominican from Mosul, was able to save them, at the risk of his own life, when the Islamic State came to the second largest city in Iraq in the summer of 2014. They were all brought to safety in Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The quality of the manuscripts’ calligraphy and their rich illuminations are an expression of the Christian civilization in Mesopotamia. The exceptional collection covers every subject: liturgy, theology, spirituality, hagiography, history, philosophy, science and astrology, languages, literature, and music. It is a remarkable testimony to the wealth of Eastern Christian tradition between the Tigris and the Euphrates, from the dawn of Christianity to the 21st century.

Organized in Rome under the patronage of the French Embassy to the Holy See, this exposition began with a private viewing on Friday, June 9, in the presence of Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, OP, archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. It was previously displayed in the National Archives in Paris in 2015.

Cardinal Sandri, when questioned by Vatican Radio, recalled that we cannot “think of the history of Iraq without referring to the Catholic Faith”. So long as the situation in the country remains unstable, these priceless manuscripts will remain under the care of the Order of St. Dominic.