Brother Boulos Khano smoothes his full beard and adjusts his skim, this black cap embroidered with 12 white crosses, representing the 12 Apostles. He feels the different pockets of his cassock in search of his markers. Then, after singing the praises of God at the top of his voice, he bows to the sheepskin parchment spread out in front of him. With a firm hand, a concentrated gaze, he traces narrow black characters, full and loose, perfectly aligned, topped with red vocalic accents.
It is the prayer of the Our Father, written in the very language of Christ: ancient Aramaic. “Revive and know the language of Jesus» has become the vocation of this 35-year-old Palestinian monk. Member of the Syrian-Orthodox Church, which celebrates in Aramaic and celebrates Christmas this January 6, he lives, with three other brothers, in the convent of Saint Mark, located on Ararat Street, in the Armenian quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.
It all started in September 2014, says Brother Boulos Khano (1). He would have heard an inner voice enjoining him to go to the library and write the Our Father in Aramaic. “I started writing every day, says this son of an artist and nephew of a calligrapher. At the beginning, it took me two hours to write the Our Father, today I only need six minutes. I started to offer my manuscripts around me, to my family,to parishionerscontinues this native of Bethlehem, then with representatives of other Churches: Greek-Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, Armenian. » To date, he estimates that he has distributed no less than 4,500 copies.
Ten hours of writing a day
In the patio adjoining the church waits the deputy ambassador of Japan, who came with his family. No wonder for Brother Boulos Khano, who claims to have offered his manuscripts to around twenty ambassadors, including those from Brazil, the United States, Sweden, Germany…
The confinement imposed in Israel during the Covid-19 gave him the opportunity to embark on an even more complex undertaking: the writing of the four Gospels in ancient Aramaic. “At first it was just an idea, he says, so I asked God to give me a signof confirmation. » The next day, a dove settles on the sill of his window. The following days, it is followed by many others. “I saw in it the sign I was waiting for”, he said, showing a video of the pigeons filmed with his smartphone.
“I began by writing the Gospel of Saint Markhe says, because of the name of our monastery, but also because it is the shortest. » Every morning he observed the same ritual. ” I close the door. I turn off my cell phone. I light a candle and incense then I put my hand on the Bible to bless myself and my work… and to avoid making mistakes! » Then he sits down for ten hours of writing a day… Once written by hand, these Gospels are printed, and their reproduction is offered to representatives of Church and State, as for the prayer of the Our Father – which is copied each time by hand.
Bishop Anthimos Jack Yacoub, Patriarchal Vicar of the Syrian-Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, the Holy Land and Jordan, praises his “spirit of service, her “fervor” and his “zeal”. “God uses his charisma and his talent to spread his Word”, he rejoices.