Illustrated manuscript of John 1:1

Advent Retreat: Coptic Manuscript-Writing with the Desert Fathers and Mothers

with Susan Kelly vonMedicus

Weekend-long Retreat

Come to Trinity Retreat Center for a weekend of spacious reflection during Advent as we immerse ourselves in the history and practice of Coptic Christian manuscripts, the lettering, and the decorative work. This Coptic form of manuscript-writing will be studied alongside readings from the desert fathers and mothers. The retreat will include instruction, practice, and wilderness time with students making a small manuscript. In illuminated manuscripts, like The Book of Kells and Dante’s Divine Comedy, text is supplemented with illustrations, decorated letters, borders, and figurative scenes in radiant colors and glowing gold and silver. The bright nature of these manuscripts helps us celebrate Advent and the symbolism of light during the dark, winter nights leading up to the nativity of the Lord.

Through this monastic art form, we will reflect on Advent and engage in this wonderful pre-Christmas activity of the creative arts among the wonders of creation.


  • There is an additional $70 materials fee.
  • Led by Susan Kelly vonMedicus, artist, iconographer, and art faculty member at Villanova University. 
  • Currently limited to 25 people. More spaces may open up as public health guidelines allow. 
  • This retreat is suitable for adults and for young people who are capable of participating in adult conversations and activities.
  • Check-in: 4pm on Friday, December 3
    Check-out: 2pm on Friday, December 5