Lost 700-Year-Old Bible Returns to UK Cathedral


A rare medieval Bible has been returned to its shelf in Canterbury Cathedral after it was removed from the cathedral’s library at the time of Reformation, some 500 years ago.

The Lyghfield Bible—named after the 16th Century monk who once owned it—was among the books scattered when Henry VIII raided the monastery community. It is the “only complete bible and the finest illuminated book known to have survived from the medieval collection,” reports The Guardian.

It is of the utmost significance to us to have here in our collections a copy of the core Christian text which was owned by one of the last monks of the medieval monastic community. —Cressida Williams, Head of cathedral archives

The cathedral bought the Lyghfield Bible from a private collector for $129,000 (£100,000). The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) donated almost $124,000 (£96,000) and the cathedral raised the rest to buy the 13th century bible.

The Canterbury Cathedral plans to organize an exhibition featuring the 690-page Bible. The beautiful manuscript is pocket-sized and written on high-quality, expensive vellum. Experts believed that the book was made in Paris and its small size probably saved it from the book-ripping incidents during the Reformation.

“The Bible is pocket-sized and as such was designed for personal use, possibly whilst travelling. The volume formed part of the collection of the medieval monastery of the Cathedral in the 16th century, but may well have been in Canterbury well before that time,” said the Cathedral in a statement.

Cressida Williams, head of the cathedral archives, said, “It is of the utmost significance to us to have here in our collections a copy of the core Christian text which was owned by one of the last monks of the medieval monastic community.” She added that the bible has so much history in it, from the tumultuous time of Reformation to the shaping of what the cathedral is today, and it will play a vital role in sharing the story to visitors.

Sir Peter Luff, chairman of the NHMF, said, “Not only an incredibly rare book directly linked to one the most turbulent periods of British history, the Lyghfield bible is also exquisitely beautiful.”

The Guardian
Anglican Communion News Service

Joyce Dimaculangan
Joyce Dimaculangan
Joyce has more than 15 years experience writing news, industry articles and blogs for the private and public sectors. Most of her career was spent writing technical documentation for a software company in the Philippines. She earned a B.A. in Communication Arts with a concentration in writing from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños. During her leisure time, Joyce pursues her interest in reading fiction and playing with her dogs. She can be contacted at Joyce@onechristianvoice.com.


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