Minnesota Monk Columba Stewart Rescues Ancient Manuscripts from Modern Threats

startribune.jpgAs extremists destroy ancient churches and cultural sites across the Middle East, a Minnesota monk has emerged as a global defender of the sacred documents often hidden inside. 

The Rev. Columba Stewart offers a safety net to religious leaders across the globe who are struggling frantically to safeguard their heritage, often hiding their fragile, yellowed books behind secret walls of churches, monasteries and family homes. 

Against the odds, Stewart’s team brings digital photography stations to these fragile lands. The photos of manuscripts taken by local crews are sent electronically 6,000 miles away — to the safety of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, where they are permanently preserved for the world to see.

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