Friday, May 31, 2013

Mor Dimat

 All churches, unless they are part of monastery are bolted and locked tight. Usually there is a cretaker inside who, if you bang on the door, will open to let you in. Or else there could be a villager with a key. There is usually a village next to it. Here an old nun, dressed in black all over, opened the door but quickly disappeared after she let us in. I couldn't take her picture or even greet her. Our taxi driver talked to her in Turkish that we want to visit the church. We asked the name of the church, she replied, 'Mor Dimat.' It was in a state of being restored but work seems to have stalled.

 The yard was overgrown, it was obvious the nun didn't have the wherewithall to take care of things. She just lives there. Pity we couldn't talk to her but even if she stayed to chat, we couldn't understand her or our taxi driver.

 It was quite a pretty church though I don't think anyone uses it anymore.
Writing in Aramaic.
After we finished with Mor Gabriel, we caught a ride back to Midyat bus station and since it was quite early in the afternoon we decided we'll get a taxi to take us back to see the other churches and monasteries. We found this older guy doing nothing. I motioned to him that we want to go to Tur Abdin, he's to drive us around, show us at least 4 (dort) churches (kilesi) but not Mor Gabriel since we've already been there. We'll pay him 300Tl, I wrote it down for him. He looked at the map, thought hard, he asked 'dort' and 300TL? I said, 'taman'. (OK in Turkish). He said, 'taman' and off we went.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Meryamana, the interior

 The ancient ceiling, though unadorned and has no frescoes is still brilliant.

 The dark entry reveals its age, it was a delight to be here.

 It is so feminine, just like its name, it is dedicated to Mary.

It is also my favorite church, just as it was Gertrude Bell's.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


 Clearly a jewel of a church. This blind arcade is not old but looks old and really beautiful. This was a favorite of Gertrude Bell. Upon arriving I can easily see why.

 Here my sister Dawn is enjoying her visit to Meryamana.

 The 'Tur Abdin' area or 'mountain of the servants' (of God) is hardly a mountain. It is more undulating hills, really remote and therefore was able to escape destruction by marauding invaders but was no match for Kudish militants fighting the Turkish government forces. It was hard to visit this area until recently. The PKK made a choice to lay down their arms and today it is easy and safe to visit 'Tur Abdin.'

An old lectern.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mor Gabriel, the church

 The apse with its beautiful mosaics.
 These mosaics dates back to Byzantine times.

Banners of saints, St George and the crucified Jesus are made by local women. This is a jewel of a church and I'm so happy its been preserved.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mor Gabriel, the grounds

This is very different from the old photographs taken by Gertrude Bell one hundred years ago. Today Mor Gabriel is beautifully restored. A monastery has stood here in one form or another since the fourth century. There are squabbles over ownership of the land and the Turkish court has awarded the Kurds with some of Mor Gabriel's land. The monastery has predated any Kudish incursion in the area. Mor Gabriel is an important center for the preservation of the Aramaic language, the language of our Lord Jesus. It was also the language used by the people at the time of our Lord Jesus. Today Mor Gabriel not only welcomes visitors, it also welcomes students. One can stay for a while with permission. A lot of returning Syriac Orthodox church members are returning to learn about their roots.