Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Frescoes at Mar Musa Monastery

The Monastery of Saint Moses the Abyssinian (Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi, دير مار موسى الحبشي) is a Syriac Catholic monastic community of monks and nuns that is situated near the town of Nabk, Syria. The monastery is focused on religious dialogue particularly between Muslims and Christians. It's also the home to some beautiful medieval frescoes. The monastery's website can be found here.
From archaeological and historical evidence, we know that the monastery of St. Moses existed from the middle of the 6th century and belonged to the Syrian Antiochian Rite. The present monastic church was built in the Islamic year 450 (1058 AD), according to Arabic inscriptions on the walls, which begin with the words: "In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate".
The frescoes in the church date from the 11th and 12th centuries.
In the 15th century the monastery was partially rebuilt and enlarged. The monastery was abandoned in the first half of the 19th century and slowly fell into ruin. Nevertheless, it remained in the ownership of the Syrian Catholic Diocese of Homs, Hama and Nabk. The inhabitants of Nabk continued to visit the monastery with devotion and the local parish struggled to maintain it.
In 1984, restoration work began through a common initiative of the Syrian State, the local Church and a group of Arab and European volunteers. The restoration of the monastery building was completed in 1994 thanks to co-operation between the Italian and Syrian States. This Italian and Syrian school for restoration of frescoes was created at Deir Mar Musa in 1989 and will complete the restoration of the frescoes in the context of Syrian European co-operation. 
Read more about the church's frescoes as well as their architectural, agricultural, and interreligious dialog efforts here.

Talented Tuesdays is a feature which focuses on art, architecture, music, culture, food, and the running of the domestic church. User submitted questions and solutions are welcomed.

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