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Archbishop meets delegation from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

The Archbishop receiving a copy of the Peresopnytsia Gospels

Tuesday 13th May 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams received a delegation from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) at Lambeth Palace, and was presented with a facsimile copy of the Peresopnytsia Gospels.

The delegation of seven Church leaders, including Archbishop Luke, Bishop Anthony, Bishop Alexander, Bishop Elisey of Sourozh, Archimandrite Cyril, Archdeacon Eugene and Father Stephen Platt, toured Lambeth Palace and the historic library before meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury. In a wideranging discussion the members of the delegation extended a warm invitation to the Archbishop to visit the Orthodox Church in Kiev and Ukraine. During the private meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury was presented with the third facsimile copy of the 16th century illustrated Peresopnytsia Gospels and a panhagia.

The Peresopnytsia Gospels, made between 1556 and 1661, are one of the most intricate surviving East Slavonic manuscripts and contains the four Gospels translated from canonical texts into the Old Ukrainian language and illustrated in Glagolitic characters under the influence of the style of the Italian Renaissance. The manuscript, created by a monk of the Monastery of the Mother of God in Peresopnytsia in Volyn, also shows characteristic Ukrainian decorations, and a high artistic level in the miniatures of the Ukrainian icon-painting school connected with Byzantine and Eastern Slavonic traditions. Having survived the centuries in the Monasteries and Cathedrals of the Ukraine Orthodox Church, the illustrated Gospels were moved to the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine and became a treasure of the Ukrainian nation.

The facsimile copy of Peresopnytsia Gospels was produced by the joint effort of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, the National Library of Vernadsky and the Publishing House "ADEF-Ukraine". The volume will be kept in Lambeth Palace Library. As part of their visit to the UK, copies of the Peresopnytsia Gospels were also presented by the delegation from the Ukraine Orthodox Church to the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the British Library in London and Cambridge University.

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