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November 16, 2011

The Lutsk Gospel Published at the Expense of Patrons

Natalia Malimon
November 14, 2011
The Day

Archimandrite Onuphrius leads the publishing department in Volyn Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (additionally, he is the senior priest at the Holy Great Martyr Paraskeva Church in Ratniv village near Lutsk); he recalls that he was moved with the tears of an almost chained to her wheelchair Tania Kononovych when she donated part of her modest income for the publication of the ancient holy book’s copy. This was her own decision, as well was the decision of a man who preferred to remain anonymous; through a friend of his, whom he trusted, he passed... 100,000 hryvnias in cash. This money was brought to the eparchy.

Generally, nearly 200 patrons have joined the publishing of the manuscript art monument, one of Ukraine’s oldest liturgical books, which was preserved to the present time. Archimandrite Onuphrius had learnt about the 14th century gospel (named the Lutsk Gospel) back in 2002, when by the order of arch­bi­shop Nifont he researched the history of an already nonexistent Orthodox Krasnosilsky convent in Lutsk’s region, which is still called Krasny. In this very area, the eparchy was going to take a plot of land in order to build a dormitory for the students of theological seminary. They still received no land, but they have found out that the original Lutsk Gospel, which is 200-250 years older than the famous Peresopnytsia Gospel, is being kept at the Russian State Library in Moscow. Today, the holy book was restored in form of facsimile edition.

Archbishop Nifont says that he sometimes wonders how many manuscripts, icons and other church, as they say, implements (which are in fact priceless relics) were destroyed only in Volyn temples in times of atheistic theomachism. One of the researchers of the gospel text Lidia Zhukovska once put herself a question: how many books there were in Old Rus’? She detected that their amount should be about the same as the number of settlements, monasteries and churches (and each of them had the Gospel, the Apostle and the Psalter). Due to historical reasons, few of the 14th-15th-century manuscripts have survived, which makes the Lutsk Gospel even more priceless. And it is the church that plays today an important role in preser­ving cultural heritage, which, according to archbishop Nifont, is not just a noble mission, but the mission of Ukrainia­nism, proclaiming us as cultural people.

Funds from the realization of the Lutsk Gospel will be used for the construction of the All Saints of the Volyn Land Church. Recently, its presentation took place in the Volyn region with participation of the head of Volyn Regional State Administration Borys Klimchuk, the head of Volyn Regional Council Volodymyr Voitovych and the mayor of Lutsk Mykola Romaniuk, who all received copies of this rarity. Father Onu­phrius says that, for example, in Iceland, each couple, which registers a marriage, receives a volume of Old Icelandic literature on behalf of the state, so that they would know their ancient language and history. Maybe some day Ukraine will also have such tradition, and the ancient Lutsk Gospel, which can be read by scholars as well as by ordinary people, will truly become a good gift for each family.