Monastery in Turkey’s Mardin waits to be discovered
MARDİN - Anadolu Agency
Built during the Roman era and closed down when its priest died in 1970, the monastery was reopened to worshippers in 2011 with the initiative of Syriac senior priest Raban Yakim Unfal, who came from the nearby Midyat district.
The monastery, set on a slope above the Mesopotamia plain and only a stone’s throw away from Syria, is considered to be the second Jerusalem for Syriacs.
“You become a priest here. Thousands of priests have been trained here. Before leaving for Jerusalem, our society was blessed here. Recently, our community and local and foreign tourists have been coming to our monastery,” Unfal said.
Twenty-five kilometers from central Nusaybin, the 1,700-year-old monastery was closed down when its priest at the time, Lahdo Örz, died in 1970. After 41 years, the monastery was reopened when Unfal was appointed there.
The architecture of the Mor Augin Monastery is different from the other unusually beautiful monasteries in Mardin, and has the biggest church bell in Turkey. Syriacs, one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, visit Mardin before pilgrimaging to Jerusalem.
Unfal, who is serving in the monastery with a student, said the Mor Augin Monastery was one of the oldest monasteries of the Syriac society.
The Mor Augin is older than the more famous monasteries Deyrulzafaran in central Mardin and Mor Gabriel in Midyat.
“This place is a wealth not only for Syriacs but also for our country. This is an undiscovered place. We are very happy that the door of our monastery has opened.”
Vehap Kaya, who came to visit the monastery, said he was very interested in the history of the Syriacs and wanted to see its similarities with the Sümela Monastery in the Black Sea province of Trabzon.
“They told me Nusaybin had a monastery that looked like the Sümela Monastery in Trabzon. Then I decided to see this place before Sümela. I’m very impressed. I recommend everyone to see this place,” he added.
Another visitor, Selahaddin Güneş, said the Mor Augin was “like the copy of Sümela” and it would be flocked with visitors once it is discovered.
The monastery is positioned nearly 1000 meters above sea level. Founded by Mor Augin and 70 of his disciples, who came from Egypt, the monastery has survived for 1,700 years. Mor Augin was given the title “messiah” due to his services to the community.
Almost 350 priests have headed the monastery in the past, which has served Syriacs beyond the Mesopotamia plain, reaching to Far East countries too.