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October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
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What Do Catholic Nuns Care about the Book of Esther?

A Hebrew scribe restored a scroll of the Book of Esther (similar to the one pictured here), which tells the story of Purim, for a Catholic nun order.

A Hebrew scribe restored a scroll of the Book of Esther (similar to the one pictured here), which tells the story of Purim, for a Catholic nun order.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

A collaboration between an order of nuns and a British Jewish scribe to restore an ancient Hebrew scroll telling the story of Purim is drawing attention as a sign of progress in Catholic-Jewish relations.

Sofer (scribe) Mordechai Pinchas restored a megillah (scroll) of the Book of Esther and returned it to the Benedictine Tyburn Nuns at a London ceremony last week.

The parchment was written in Venice, Italy in the 18th century. It was donated to the order of nuns by Jordan and Lorraine Cherrick from St. Louis, Mo. The scroll is “a biblical artifact symbolizing ever-deepening Jewish-Catholic relations,” said Mother General Xavier McMonagle, according to the British Catholic Herald.

“It all shows something more than academic theological exercise. We get to know each other as real people. You can tell there is something deeper going on,” she said.

The Book of Esther tells the story of how Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai save the Jews from extermination by Haman, the royal advisor to King Ahasuerus of Persia. Jews around the world commemorate annually on the holiday of Purim, which this year begins after Shabbat on March 15.

According to McMonagle, the figure of Esther “has remained very powerful in Catholic Christian religion, devotion, and spirituality as a symbol, an image, and a model of powerful intercession with God to change the course of human events from bad to good.”

“The need for Esther’s example is ever present in our minds, whether we are Christians or Jews,” McMonagle said. “Esther is a memorial, a living point of confidence that God can change things for the better, and he can do it even by working miracles.”

Formerly known as the Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Montmartre, the Tyburn Nuns received their nickname due to the location of their motherhouse, which stands next to the site of the Tyburn gallows. Their 105 canonized or beatified Catholic martyrs were executed during the Reformation era.

About the Author: www.JNS.org is an independent, non-profit business resource and wire service covering Jewish news and Israel news for Jewish media throughout the English-speaking world.


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14 Responses to “What Do Catholic Nuns Care about the Book of Esther?”

  1. Perhaps for safe keeping. We all know that the Vatican has many ancient Jewish texts, some they admit to and some they don’t.

  2. Jeff Rosner says:

    A real sign of progress would be to return the scroll to a Jewish Institution especially since it is in Hebrew.

  3. What do Catholics need with a Megilah? Just to convert us?

  4. Except Iran, I have yet to see a non-Jewish webpage that doesn't speak of the Book of Esther as some sort of fairy tale.
    That objectively confirm as authentic & with evidences the History as related in the Book of Esther, names, events, dates & cities names.
    I have yet to see a non-Jewish webpage that speak of Darius the son of Esther, who was Darius' father ? & the dates of Darius reign as Persia Emperor.
    What Darius did for the Land of Israel & Israelites ?

  5. And I Am not speaking at all about the Cyrus Cylinder

  6. Carlos Font says:

    For the second time this month I find myself agreeing with Rabbi Kolakowski. The Catholic Mass starts with a reading from the "Old Testament" I remember hearing about Mordecai and his niece Esther long ago. I just read the book of Esther and learned about Purim which starts after Shabat this weekend. I feel very confortable calling myself a Conservative Judeo-Christian Catholic.

  7. Why is it that we are always the ones helping, bending, contributing and every other is taking, taking, attempting to convert (I mean taking)?

  8. Jeff Rosner says:

    Rabbi Joseph Kolakowski: The Torah was given to the Jewish people, I wasn't aware it was given to all the nations. I don't see how a Megillah written in Hebrew by a Jewish Scribe is part of "their" bible. Does "their" bible command them to hear the Megillah being read?

  9. I pleased don,t mention katolics don.t mention islamics dont mention cristians,we have to woried about Jews nothing else maters,I big a perdfon but we have to worried aboute Jews and Toráh

  10. Sientje Seinen says:

    Jeff Rosner I agree it should be returned, as it is really a story for the Jewish people, How G-d put Esther in a certain place in order to safe the Jewish people from destruction, It show G-d 's love for the Jewish people, and it really has no message for the gentiles only G-d's love for the Jewish people by placing queen Esther so that she can plead for her people. shalom It is part of our Old testament, but the story is of G-d's love for the Jews.

  11. Sientje Seinen says:

    rabbi I certainly would not trust the pope or those nuns who think they are married to Jesus Christ. such a sad religion.

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