The Codex Sinaiticus and the Manuscripts of Mt Sinai in the Collections of the National Library of Russia

THE HISTORY OF THE ACQUISITION OF THE SINAI BIBLE BY THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT IN THE CONTEXT OF RECENT FINDINGS IN RUSSIAN ARCHIVES

A.V. Zakharova

Settlement of Mt Sinai's Financial Problems
Resulting from Archbishop Cyril's Activity

As mentioned before, between 1860 and 1865 Archbishop Cyril obtained life interest in landed estates of Mt Sinai Community in Bessarabia 72. According to the documents below, Mt Sinai Community challenged the business legality to no avail until making (apparently, in the spring 1870) an interim agreement with the former Archbishop, undertaking to pay him a large sum of money for retrieval of the land rights. Letters by N.P. Ignatyev to Archimandrite Antonin indicate that earnings from Communal estates in Bessarabia were withheld by Russian authorities from both litigants until June 1870, and only de-sequestrated when the parties came to an agreement.

N.P. Ignatyev wrote to Archim. Antonin in a letter of 4/16 March 1870:

<> it is now more than six weeks since the receipt of Archbishop of Sinai for money and decorations received was dispatched to Petersburg; and Father Cornelius came (to Constantinople) to thank me for delivering the compassionate benefit they never expected (nor merited) and also for saving (that is really true) Communal estates from eventual devastation and plunder. Similar events would inevitably result from the strike between the creditor and Cyril, and the inexperienced (due to characteristic ignorance of Russian legislation not necessarily associated with the Greek clergy) Community solicitor73

In a letter of 10/22 June 1870 he wrote:

<> Solicitors of Mt Sinai Community apparently made sure, at parting, of impossibility either to come into full possession of, or to settle their business without a preliminary voluntary settlement with Right Reverend Cyril (as I advised as a military man, against the opinion of the militant monks preferring war, strife, litigation, trial, and colossal disorders to peaceful outcome). The solicitors declared officially that examination of the estates and business affairs convinced them that had we not put the estates under the (so much censured) sequester and had we not kept it until present, they would have not a sliver of the property and none of the earnings, while now the community finds everything intact. They only regret (quite reasonably) that we delayed the sequestration and the renters and Cyril's kindred had time enough to rob a little. On the instance of Community solicitors we first de-sequestrated some of the property except the main one, and since the documents held by Cyril are now handed over to the solicitors and real property is protected, the remaining property is also de-sequestrated. The solicitors and Cyril arranged a deal stipulating that the community shall pay a certain sum to their former pastor and he will return some documents and bear no grudge against them. In a word, the matter ended, without our intercession, in what (reasonable persons) should begin with74

Yet the conflicting parties failed to make complete agreement. In June 1870, Archbishop Callistratus and the brethren appealed to N.P. Ignatyev again75. Through his mediation, a final agreement with Archbishop Cyril76 was elaborated within months and signed at the Russian Embassy in Constantinople on 18 March 1871. Under the agreement, Cyril was to receive from the Community a large lump-sum grant and, in his turn, restore the Communal interest in the estates in Bessarabia and the valuables he had taken from the monastery between 1859 and 1866 (attached schedule listing dozens like church plate, vestments, jewelry, and records)77.  (See the agreement)

This was the final settlement of the conflict between Archbishop Cyril and Mt Sinai brethren.

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72 Τὸ Κανονικὸν δίκαιον, pp. 281-282, 286. (back to the text)

73 RGIA, f. 1561, op. 1, d. 16, fols. 28v-29r. (back to the text)

74 Ibid., fols. 30r-31v. (back to the text)

75 See letter by Archbishop Callistratus to Russian Vice-Consul in Egypt, N.L. Obermiller from Djuvania, 16 June /Old style/ 1870 (AVPRI, f. 180, op. 517/2, d. 1083, fols. 180r-181r); report of N.L. Obermiller to N.P. Ignatyev of 25 June / 7 July 1870 from Alexandria (AVPRI, f. 180, op. 517/2, d. 3393, fols. 41r-43v). (back to the text)

76 Letter by Archbishop Callistratus to Russian Consul in Egypt, I.M. Lex, of 20 November /Old style/ 1870 (ibid., fol. 26r-v); letter by Archbishop Callistratus to N.P. Ignatyev of 19 February /Old style/ 1871 (ibid., fol. 36r-v), etc. (back to the text)

77 AVPRI, f. 180, op. 517/2, d. 3393. Text of the agreement: fols. 10r-11r; statements and signature of witnesses: fol. 11v. List of things requested by Mt Sinai Community from Cyril, with the latter's comments: fols. 13r-14v. Final list of things returned by Cyril: fols. 12r-v, 15r-v. (back to the text)

© The National Library of Russia, 2009