A Shared House, Sinai Icons, and Ascent in Song

Welcome to our monthly newsletter!

We begin our selection with a brief video documentary about the House of Mary (Meryem Ana Evi) in Ephesus, Turkey, as part of the exhibition “Shared Sacred Spaces”, held at the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations, Marseille, France. The 2015 exhibition was part of an effort to provide new keys “for a deeper understanding of the complexity of exchanges between Mediterranean religions”.

Even if the dogmas of the three monotheistic religions seem incompatible, in reality they share biblical figures, saints and sites.

• Next we bring to your attention the extraordinary photographic archive of the 1950s and 60s Michigan-Princeton-Alexandria Expeditions to Sinai, including icons, manuscripts, and liturgical objects preserved at St Catherine’s Monastery. You are warmly encouraged to browse this treasury from one of the most ancient and vital centres of Christian monasticism, from land sacred to all three Abrahamic faiths.

Sinai Virgin at Bush
Virgin in the Burning Bush at Mount Sinai

• Finally, in an article about “The Hasidic Nigun”, mystical folk songs of the Hasidim, Hanoch Avenary tells us about the gradual ascent in song, from the depths of this world to the higher spheres of the transcendent, to holy joy, enthusiasm, ecstasy. These tunes are not aimed at any audience, do not strive for external beauty, and cannot be measured by purely artistic standards; only by means of participation can their ravishing, moving, exalting power be realized.

“Offer your heart in chant just as it is, and sing as well as you can though it be nothing but the rustic songs and dances of the countryside where you live in exile.” There is a mystic idea that also tunes are in exile, and maybe liberated by leading them back to serve a holy purpose.