Bringing the Holy Land Home

Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece (Jan. 26 – April 6, 2023)
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery, Prior Performing Arts Center, the College of the Holy Cross, 1 College St., Worcester, MA

“Bringing the Holy Land Home” explores the impact of art objects manufactured in the eastern Mediterranean on the visual culture of medieval England and western Europe. At its center are an iconic set of mold-made tiles, discovered at Chertsey Abbey outside of London, but probably commissioned for London’s Westminster Palace around 1250. These include a famous pair of roundels showing the English king Richard the Lionheart and the Ayyubid sultan Saladin (Salah al-Din) in combat. Excavated from the ruined site of Chertsey Abbey in the 19th century, the original composition of the fragmented tiles has been reconstructed, including their lost Latin texts. The reconstruction has demonstrated not only that the entire mosaic addressed the theme of the crusades, but also that its design evoked that of imported Byzantine and Islamic silks.

Carried home by crusaders, Byzantine and Islamic silks as well as ceramics, metalwork and other items were highly valued by European audiences, who incorporated them into sacred objects, displayed them in places of esteem, and imitated their designs – as was the case with the Chertsey tiles. The composition of the Chertsey floor relies on visual traditions of textiles developed by Muslim and Orthodox Christian artists in the eastern Mediterranean, even while the iconography attends to the theme of English victory over foreign opponents. By pairing the Chertsey tiles with contemporaneous European and eastern Mediterranean objects, this exhibition endeavors to illuminate the specific and complex contexts that informed the tiles’ production and design.

Along with the Chertsey tiles, on loan from the British Museum, this exhibition also displays the Morgan Library’s Crusader Bible and medieval objects from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the Worcester art Museum, Dumbarton Oaks, and Harvard Art Museums.

Exhibition website at

Exhibition catalogue with contributions from Michael Wood (OBE), Andrea Achi, Paroma Chatterjee, Meredith Fluke, Eurydice Georganteli, Sean Gilsdorf, Sarah Guerin, Cynthia Hahn, Eva R. Hoffman, Richard A. Leson, A. L. McClanan, Nina Masin-Moyer ’22, Grace P. Morrissey ’22, Suleiman Mourad, David Nicolle, Scott Redford, Euan Roger, Alicia Walker, and Elizabeth Dospel Williams, available at

Thurs. Jan 26, Opening Lecture & Reception
Thurs. Jan 26, 4pm, Rehm Library
Dr. William Purkis, “Bringing the Holy Land Home: Crusaders, Relics, and the Transformation of Latin Christendom’s Sacred Material World.” Dr. Purkis is Head of School of History and Cultures at the University of Birmingham.
5:30pm, Opening Reception, Cantor Gallery
Sat. March 25, 8:30am-7pm, “Bringing the Holy Land Home” conference, held in association with the NEMC (New England Medieval Consortium) 

Registration details will be posted at in the coming weeks.

Lloyd de Beer, the British Museum
Paroma Chatterjee, University of Michigan
Paul Cobb, University of Pennsylvania
Matthew Gabriele, Virginia Tech
Sarah Guerin, University of Pennsylvania
Cynthia Hahn, Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York
Eva Hoffman, Tufts University
Richard Leson, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Amanda Luyster, College of the Holy Cross
Suleiman Mourad, Smith College
Nicholas Paul, Fordham University
Matthew Reeve, Queen’s University
Euan Roger, National Archives, Kew
Naomi Speakman, the British Museum
Elizabeth Williams, Dumbarton Oaks

Finally, if you would like to bring a group to visit the show on any date that the gallery is open (M-F 10 a.m. – 5 pm | Sat noon – 5 pm, Jan. 26-April 6), just email me to make arrangements.  Admission and parking are free.

Mount Athos Foundation of America Celebratory Exhibition Opening

On behalf of the Mount Athos Foundation of America (MAFA), and in collaboration with the Mount Athos Center (Agioreitiki Estia) of Thessaloniki, I am pleased to personally invite members of BSANA to a Celebratory Inauguration at the Maliotis Center on the campus of Hellenic College/Holy Cross in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Tuesday September 13, 2022 from 2:00 pm to approximately 8:30 pm

This event will kick off a 2-months-long exhibition – Mount Athos: The Ark of Orthodoxy.  This exhibition is intended to evoke the sense of a virtual pilgrimage to the Athonite monasteries (for more information, please click The theme of the celebratory opening events is Reflections of Days on Mount Athos. The agenda is outlined below.


Please let me know (by responding to the email address below my signature) if you will be able to join us for all or part of the event, including whether you will join us for dinner. Please respond promptly if you wish to attend the banquet since seating is limited.


Robert W. Allison, president

The Mount Athos Foundation of America (affirmative RSVPs only)


· Afternoon Program begins at 2:00 pm convened by Robert W. Allison, president of the Mount Athos Foundation of America

· 2:10.          Welcome by Archbishop Elpidophoros with opening prayer

· 2:30.          Greeting from Anastasios Ntouros – Director, Mount Athos Center (Thessaloniki)

· 2:45-3:10.   PRESENTATION by Fr. Loukas of Xenophontos Monastery, Mount Athos, representing the Holy Community

· 3:15-3:30.   PRESENTATION by Anna Merkel (mother of an Athonite Monk)

· 3:30-5:00.   Viewing of the Exhibition and Socializing

· 5:00-7:00.   Vespers in the Holy Cross Chapel followed by pre-banquet socializing and viewing of the Exhibition

· Evening Program begins at 7:00 pm

· 7:00-7:45.   Banquet – Accompanied by showing of a recently discovered 1929 Athos Documentary Film (20+ minutes, played during the meal). Alice Sullivan (Tufts University) will introduce the film

· 7:30-8:30.   PRESENTATION by Julia Gearhart and Maria Alessia Rossi (both of Princeton University) & Alice Sullivan (Tufts University) about the Film, panel discussion and Q & A facilitated by Alice Sullivan

Greek Manuscripts at the University of Michigan Library: A Celebration

A New Exhibit: Greek Manuscripts at the University of Michigan Library: A Celebration
Splendors of the religious and artistic endeavors of Byzantine manuscript makers are on display from the Greek manuscript collection at the University of Michigan Library (Special Collections Research Center). We warmly invite you to explore these extraordinary treasures at the Audubon Room, North Hatcher Library, March 26-June 28, 2022.

The University of Michigan Library holds an extensive collection of Greek manuscripts consisting of 110 codices (bound manuscripts) and fragments that range from the fourth to the nineteenth centuries CE. It is the largest such collection in the Western Hemisphere. As explained in the exhibit, most of these manuscripts were purchased through the efforts of Professor Francis Willey Kelsey in the second decade of the previous century.

Our exhibit displays highlights from these holdings, offering insights into the religious and artistic endeavors involved in the making, use, and dissemination of Byzantine codices. In brief, these unique manuscripts are eloquent witnesses of a period of achievements in the areas of textual transmission, calligraphy, illumination, and bookbinding. Most of the Greek manuscripts in our collection were used for various religious services in churches and monasteries. Others were probably destined for private devotion, such as the pocket-size, richly illuminated manuscripts carrying the Gospels. While many of our manuscripts indeed contain the text of the New Testament in various forms, others include religious works from the fourth century onward, written by venerated scholars who gradually shaped the theological foundations of the Christian faith throughout the centuries.

Catalogue of Greek Manuscripts at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Vol. 1., by Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2021)

Tradition and Individuality: Bindings from the University of Michigan Greek Manuscript Collection by Julia Miller (Ann Arbor: The Legacy Press, 2021)

When: March 26-June 28, 2022.

Where: Audubon Room, Hatcher Library North

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