Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 8, 2008
Orthodox give Canada Ukrainian treasure
- CCN Photo
The Peresopnitsia Gospel was the work of 16th century nuns.
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
OTTAWA — Canada has been given two copies of the first book of the Gospels ever written in Ukrainian.
A delegation from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church presented two copies of the historic 16th-century Peresopnitsia Gospel to Canada at a Dec. 1 ceremony on Parliament Hill.
The precious facsimiles of the first hand-written, illustrated gospel in the Ukrainian language were given to the Library of Parliament and to Saint Paul University, a Catholic university with the largest religious library in Canada.
The original volume is kept in a vault in a Kiev museum.
The Peresopnitsia Gospel was the work of two monks at the Virgin Mary’s Monastery in the town of Peresopnitsia during the mid-1500s. Ukrainians had been Christian for five centuries by then, but had never before had a gospel written in their language.
Now the book is a source of re-evangelization of the Ukrainian people after years of communist domination, said members of the delegation.
At a seminar at Saint Paul University Nov. 28, Abbess Seraphyma Shevchyk, a member of the delegation, said via a translator that when Ukrainians first heard the Gospel in the 10th century it was a “time of wild paganism.”
Shevchyk said she was unsure whether times were worse in the pagan era or when Ukraine was under communism.
Under communism and without Christianity, the Ukrainian people experienced the loss of their soul, she said.
“The Holy Gospel was enemy number one during the Soviet Union,” said Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and all of Canada, who hosted the Ukrainian delegation on behalf of the Orthodox Church of America.
During the presentation ceremony, the Ukrainian delegation thanked Canada for being the first G-8 country to officially recognize the Holodomor as a genocide. Millions died in the Soviet-engineered famine 75 years ago.
Canada’s role in recognizing this genocide and its support for the culture of Ukrainian immigrants who have settled here were among the reasons Canada was chosen to receive copies of the digital facsimile.
Archpriest Mykola Danylevych described the Peresopnitsia Gospel as an “important treasure” that is a “sign of the living Church, a sign of the Church that is capable of offerings its people the Gospel of the bread of life.”