Speech of His Holiness Mor Ignatius Aphrem II Patriarch of Antioch and All the East at the opening of Symposium Syriacum XIII

Distinguished Scholars,

Dear organizers and attendees,

I am grateful for the invitation to be part of this outstanding event where some of the greatest and most illustrious scholars of both Syriac and Arab Christian literature come together to present their latest works. Some sharing their latest discoveries of still unknown texts and other shedding a new light and giving new meanings to some well-known works.

Very often we lament the fact that many of our surviving tests and manuscripts are to be found in major European and American libraries. However, the very survival of these texts and their preservation may be because of this fact, given the difficult circumstances and horrendous acts of violence committed against our people and our institutions. These unspeakable tragedies do not belong only to the distant history, but they are happening even today. We have seen it happening in our own time and underneath our eyes in Syria and Iraq in the last few years.

Nevertheless, I have to tell you that we will be grateful to all libraries which can return any texts they may have and which belong to our people. Even digital copies would be received with much appreciation as we are trying to create a central library for our Syriac patrimony.

On behalf of members of our Syriac Orthodox Church and many other descendants of the Syriac heritage, I wish to register my profound gratitude to each one of you for your tireless efforts in the field of Syriac Studies. A field which may not appeal to many people, given the limited job opportunities associated with it;, yet very rewarding to those who value the contributions of the Syriac Fathers to the entire Christian heritage and to the authentic early understanding of faith and practice of the Church.

Yet, more and more scholars are turning their attention to it. I am particularly happy to see more of our own clergy and scholars showing interest in their heritage and participating in this esteemed gathering.

Once again, I want to thank you all for inviting me to be with you today and I wish your symposium much success, looking forward to the publication of many of the papers presented here.

May God bless you all.