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Saving the Sacred: Preserving Historic Manuscripts in the Modern Middle East

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

MEDIA CONTACT: Hilary Dickinson at or 608-363-2849

The efforts of a Minnesota library to digitize and preserve unique manuscripts in Syria, Ethiopia, Turkey, Iraq and other regions where the survival of historical materials is threatened will be the topic of a lecture at Beloit College on Thursday, April 18.

The lecture will be given by Fr. Columba Stewart, O.S.B, Ph.D, who serves as the director of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library in Collegeville, Minn. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 4:15 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium, Morse-Ingersoll Hall.

Frequently, the manuscripts the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library preserve belong to endangered minority Christian populations in those regions, and the digitized copies represent the first and only access that Western scholars have had to these ancient and often unique texts.

“The library’s work is valuable both for increasing our historical knowledge of these regions and their religious communities and for fostering cultural connections between Eastern and Western branches of Christianity,” said Ellen Joyce, associate professor of history at Beloit.

Fr. Columba Stewart received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, his master’s degree from Yale University, and his Ph.D. from Oxford University. He has written several books and articles about ancient and contemporary monastic observance. He has been featured in National Geographic, PBS and The Chronicle of Higher Education, among others.

The Beloit College history department is sponsoring the event.