THE Miroslav gospel
oldest surviving Serbian Cyrillic manuscript
The Miroslav Gospel is the oldest surviving Serbian Cyrillic manuscript. It was written in the second half of the 12th century for Miroslav, Prince of Hum, the elder brother of Simeon Nemanja. Since its creation, the manuscript has held the status of a masterpiece. Apparently, this Gospel used to be a sacred book used to perform the Divine Liturgy when the Hilandar Monastery was founded. During the following seven centuries, it was presented on solemn occasions, as the sovereign Evangelistary. In January 1846, the Russian Archimandrite Porphyry Uspensky cut out sheet number 166 and took it with him, first to Constantinople, then to St. Petersburg, Kyiv and Moscow. Since 1883, the paper has been in the Imperial Library in St. Petersburg. This paper spread the word about the unique manuscript kept in Hilandar. In 1896, the monks presented Miroslav’s Gospel to King Aleksandar I Obrenović, and from then on his destiny took an unusual course. At night, during the May Coup of 1903, the Miroslav Gospel was stolen from the palace safe. During the retreat of the Serbian army in 1915, it was found in the possessions of King Peter, and then it travelled with the Main State Treasury through Albania, Brindisi, Corfu, and the Thessaloniki front, until it returned to Belgrade. After the murder of King Alexander I Karađorđević, Prince Pavle presented Miroslav’s Gospel to the newly founded Museum of Prince Pavle. During World War II, it was hidden in the safe of the National Bank in Užice, under the altar of the Rača Monastery near the Drina, and in the safe of the National Bank in Belgrade, thus avoiding German searches. Today, it is kept in the National Museum in Belgrade, except for the mentioned sheet, which is still in Russia.