Fun_People Archive
21 Oct
The Convent of St. Elias

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Mon, 21 Oct 96 21:24:40 -0700
To: Fun_People
Subject: The Convent of St. Elias

Forwarded-by: Tom Kuhn <>

PRILEP, Yugoslavia (AP) - Outside a small Macedonian village close to  the
border between Greece and strife-torn Yugoslavia, a lone Catholic nun
keeps a quiet watch over a silent convent.  She is the last caretaker of
the site   of significant historical developments spanning more than 2,000

When Sister Maria Cyrilla of the Order of the Perpetual Watch dies, the
convent of St. Elias will be closed by the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of

However, that isn't likely to happen soon as Sister Maria, 53, enjoys
excellent health. By her own estimate, she walks 10 miles daily about the
grounds of the convent, which once served as a base for the army of Attila
the Hun. In more ancient times, a Greek temple to Eros, the god of love,
occupied the hilltop site.

Historians say that Attila took over the old temple in 439 A.D. and used it
as a base for his marauding army. The Huns are believed to have first
collected and then destroyed a large gathering of Greek legal writs at the
site. It is believed that Attila wanted to study the Greek legal system and
had the writs and other documents brought to the temple. Scholars differ on
why he had   the valuable documents destroyed - either because he was barely
literate and couldn't read them, or because they provided evidence of
democratic government that did not square with his own notion of rule by an
all-powerful tyrant.

When the Greek church took over the site in the 15th Century and the convent
was built, church leaders ordered the pagan statue of Eros destroyed, so
another ancient Greek treasure was lost. Today, there is only the lone
sister, watching over the old Hun base, amidst the strife of war torn
Yugoslavia, and when she goes, that will be it.  Thus, that's how it ends,
with no Huns, no writs, no Eros, and nun left on base.

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