A rare medieval Bible has finally been returned to England’s iconic Canterbury Cathedral after being missing for 500 years.
According to Antiques Trade Gazette, the Bible is called the Lyghfield Bible. It is named after a 13th century monk who hand-made the text.
The church bought the 690 leaf volume for £100,000 from a private seller at a manuscript auction in London. The large purchase was made possible with a £96,000 grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), Friends of the National Libraries, Friends of Canterbury Cathedral and private donations.
The book is pocket-sized and its text is illuminated — which means the manuscript is adorned by elaborate hand-drawn designs and images.
Historians say the Bible used to be part of the library of a medieval monastery in Canterbury in the 16th century. However, the volume went missing during the Protestant Reformation when the monastic community disbanded and much of the library was destroyed.
The Bible survived and was passed along to a number of private collectors and book dealers throughout the centuries until is showed up at an auction. Now, the Lyghfield Bible is the only complete Bible from the medieval book collection.
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“We are very grateful to the support from funders. 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. The Bible bears witness to the upheavals of the Reformation, a time which defined what the Cathedral is today, and will have a key role in telling visitors our story,” Canterbury Cathedral Head of Archives Cressida Williams told Kent Online.
The Cathedral will display the sacred text in a new exhibit called The Canterbury Journey.