June 19, 2014

Crowds of Turks Gather to View the Body of an 1100 Year Old Nun in Cappadocia

Nikos Chiladakis
May 31, 2014

A relic of a Greek Orthodox nun, which lies exposed in the museum of the city of Nigde in Cappadocia, has sparked huge interest among Turks who come in droves to see and admire in awe. As much as this sounds surprising, this relic comes from a period and place known as saint-bearing Cappadocia, where monasticism flourished, leaving until today a great historical legacy for the current residents of modern Turkey.

As mentioned in the Turkish press (and it is significant that this issue, the relic of the Greek Orthodox nun, has been reported by many Turkish newspapers, such as Milliyet), in the region of Nigde, where there was a thriving Greek Orthodox community until the population exchange, there was discovered not long ago the relic of a Greek Orthodox nun and other bones of four children.

The discovery was made in the valley of Ilhara in the district of Aksaray, an area where there were many cave monasteries and entire cities dug below ground. At the time when Orthodoxy prevailed, thousands of monks and nuns lived in the caves of the valley.

In this area there has been some archaeological excavations for a while now, and at one of these excavations, as stated by Turkish archaeologist Mustafa Eryaman, there was discovered the relic which dates, in accordance with the statements of the Turkish archaeologist, to the era of Byzantium.

Tests were then done on the relic and bones that were found, revealing that this was a young woman of about 22 years old, at a height of 1 meter and 62 centimeters, that she was a nun in the area, and the Turks themselves named her after her features, "Sarışın Rahibe", that is, "The Blonde Nun".

The cause of death of the nun was not ascertained but the Turks presume that a violent incident occurred that perhaps is associated with general developments of the era. According to Mustafa Eryaman, the period when the nun lived should be about 1100 years ago.

The impressive thing is that the Turks regarded the discovery as a major event and then transferred the relic and deposited it in a special case in the museum of the city of Nigde.

But the most impressive thing is that when it was learned that in this museum is the relic of a Greek Orthodox nun, there began arriving many Turks to see and admire the relic of "The Blonde Nun", leaving many in awe by her appearance.

This is because although many centuries have passed since her death she was kept in very good condition. Some even made mention of them being holy relics left incorrupt through the centuries because of their sacredness.

Maybe it's an unknown Greek Orthodox saint who is sanctified despite her youthful age and remained buried for centuries to come today to the surface as another sign of the emerging Orthodoxy in modern Turkey, causing awe among the Turks themselves.

Translated by John Sanidopoulos.