|Mor Gabriel at break of day|
I have to confess that I am finding it hard to get into the liturgy of Mor Gabriel. I discuss this with our bishop, and realize that I need to feel the mystery of the Eastern Orthodox tradition. East and West need to meet on this, the western tradition being rather more ritualistic, lacking in some of this mystery that is second nature here. It is hard for me to find that here just yet. There have been so many experiences to assimilate. Perhaps I just need a little more time and space. This is almost certainly why I enjoy the use of incense in church back home, although it is not generally popular with our congregation – that’s such a shame!
|the church sanctuary at Mor Yacoub|
With ablutions and breakfast over, we are ready to go, and are joined for the day by one of the teaching monks (malfonos) from the monastery and his brother from the village. So we set off on the road again, this time to visit the early sixth century monastery of Mor Yacoub (Yakub), at Saleh. Fr Daniel here was kidnapped for two days a couple of years ago but was released unharmed. He is not here when we arrive; he is probably out on the fields farming and will not hear his phone, we are told. We explore the site, making our way first to the church. It is very wide, with a transverse nave, which allows maximum room for the congregation to prostrate themselves in prayer. The church was built in 512. Its roof is very similar to that seen in the church at Mor Gabriel, except that here the stone arches in the roof are painted to look like bricks! This was all in ruins not so long ago and has been rebuilt. Five years ago the rubble of the ruins was still being cleared out – so we see that astonishing progress has been made; yet another example of the incredible resilience of the Christian communities in this part of Turkey. But there has been a problem with the renovations; the acids in the concrete used on the roof have damaged the original roof coloring.
We saw two churches at this monastery, the second older than the first. In the grounds we also saw the ruins of what may originally have been an old pagan temple, although this is not certain.
But litter is still a problem, as I have mentioned elsewhere... it is such a shame to see countryside polluted and despoiled in this way.
|possible pagan ruins at Mor Yacoub?|
|the beautiful Yoldath Aloho at Hah|
|Ancient lectionaries in the courtyard?|
But we have to move on. So we climb up to the terrace above the church where under the shelter of a very modern gazebo to protect us from the harsh midday sun, we are treated to the traditional cay before being led to lunch in a room below, hosted by the mukhtar or mayor of Salah, Habib Doghan.
The lunch was superb, but we must soon be on the move again. There are other remains of churches and monasteries to see around the village and the mayor comes with us to proudly show them to us:
|ruins of Mor Sobo|
Then we walk through dusty pathways through the village, flanked on each side by stone walls topped often with prickly branches; I suspect these are constructed to keep livestock in their enclosures. Similar branches also seem to be stored and used as fuel. Here we find the little church of Mor Shmuel and the ruins of a former monastery dedicated to Sts Sergius & Bacchus (789 AD).
|at the monastery dedicated to Sts Sergius and Bacchus|
|a path in Anitli|
We were given a grand farewell by the mayor and some villagers who showered us with pomegranates and grapes before we climbed into the coach and set off again. Back onto the main Dargecit road we made our way towards Midyat; to see more churches and more of the important Syriac architecture of the region...the day still had plenty to offer ...to be contd...