The spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, sued Princeton University earlier this week, arguing that three Byzantine-era illuminated manuscripts within the collection were stolen during World War I from a monastery in Kormista, Greece by Bulgarian forces. Although the manuscripts have been in the collection since 1942 when they were gifted to Princeton by an alumnus and trustee, the Ecumenical Patriarch is demanding the return of the manuscripts.
The university said in a statement Friday that it had full confidence that the provenance research it has done establishes that the manuscripts were not looted.
“Based on the information available to us, we have found no basis to conclude that the manuscripts in our possession were looted during World War I or otherwise improperly removed from the possession of the patriarchate,” a university spokesman, Michael Hotchkiss, said in an email. (The New York Times)