Balamand Monastery

Goals and Objectives

The “Center” was the fruit of accumulated hard work over long years, with a clear vision and one main objective: to learn and save our heritage (of the Church and of interacting communities).

In the second half of the eighties of the twentieth century, His beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV established “The Orthodox Study Center” in Beirut, to document all manuscripts and archives in the Orthodox monasteries and archdioceses, which resulted in publishing a long series of printed indexes describing in short the preserved heritage. The people concerned in preserving the heritage thought, by the end of the nineties of the twentieth century, of preserving the heritage in digital form(s), which was becoming available at cheaper costs. In spring of 2003, a new project between the Balamand Patriarchal Monastery and the St John University of Minnesota (U.S.A) started the digitalization project of all the manuscripts, initially with the Balamand collection, in order to preserve the heritage in high-resolution images. However, the need for restoration of many manuscripts and documents triggered the idea of establishing our own restoration center; which was realized in the restoration center of the Patriarchate of Damascus in early 2004, after preparing the team of expertise in co-operation with “Jum‛ah al Majed Foundation” in Dubai. By mid-2007, another restoration center opened in Our Lady of Balamand Patriarchal Monastery, named after the Church loving man of science, St Joseph of Damascus, who studied the manuscripts, edited many translations of St John Chrysostom’s sermons, and printed them.

* Digitalization at beginning (2003).

* Digitalization now.

* Detaching old manuscript papers.

* Manual restoration.

The foundation of “St Joseph of Damascus Manuscript Conservation Center” in Balamand Monastery aimed at restoring the worsened manuscripts & archives, and preserving its high quality digital images. In an effort to gather the whole Antiochian heritage in any language, the “Center” house the digital images first of its collection, then of collections of other monasteries and parishes in the Antiochian See, as well as the scattered heritage in museums and libraries all over the world. By fall of 2010, a specialized building started to house all the functions of the “Center” in Balamand. The “Centre” is proud to be the first if not the only place in Lebanon to make acid free paper in the old oriental way.

This new specialized building enables the “Center” to fulfill many goals, some of which are:


Layout plan of Internal Network

1- Revive the deteriorated manuscripts and archival documents through restoration, and conserve all the collections from weary elements, in a suitable constant temperature and humidity, after disinfection & cleaning from acidity, fungus and stains,

2- Establish a Heritage bank for keeping the high-resolution digital images of Antiochian rich heritage of manuscripts and archives in the best-known modern scientific and international ways, [This includes editing the name of each image, after shooting, to make its identity clear]

3- Update the printed indexes published by the “Institute Of History, Archeology of Near Eastern Studies” (previously known as “The Orthodox Study Center”), to provide researchers with e-index database that makes it easy for them to find what contributes to their field of studies,

4- Encourage researchers to explore the written Antiochian Heritage, in order to expose its content, language dialect, handwriting, way of composition, technique of binding, and the marginal notes of historical, social, and economical nature,

5- Provide training tutorials for graduate students working on manuscripts and archives,

6- Increase awareness in the importance of heritage preserved in Manuscripts and Archives. To achieve this goal, the center asks the responsible of any church or community to present what he has to the center to catalogue it, if not already done, whether in the Patriarchate in Damascus or in Balamand in Lebanon.

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