Return Of Devil's Bible To Prague Draws Crowds|
Posted: 9/21/2007 2:35 PM
PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) — Codex Gigas, also
known as the Devil's Bible — a medieval manuscript said to have been
written 800 years ago with the devil's help — has returned to Prague after
an absence of 359 years.
A visitor looks at the Devil's Bible during an opening of an exibition at the Czech National Library in
Prague, Wednesday. The manuscript was written in the early 13th century in the Benedictine
monastery of Podlazice in Bohemia, and during the Middle Ages was regarded as a wonder of the
And Czechs were eager to see it, officials said
The priceless piece, considered the biggest medieval
book, was taken from the Prague Castle by Swedish troops at the end of the
Thirty Years' War in 1648. It is in Prague on loan from Sweden's Royal
Library in Stockholm. It was put on display under high security at the
Czech National Library.
Its return to Prague for Sept 20 — Jan 6 exhibition
was made possible after years of negotiations between Czech and Swedish
diplomats, National Library spokeswoman Katerina Novakova said.
"We expected big interest from the public," Novakova
said. "Now, we are 100% full."
Only 60 people per hour can enter an air-conditioned
room in the library's medieval complex in downtown Prague for a 10-minutes
look at the manuscript, which is inside a specially designed, unbreakable
case, she said.
According to myth, a Benedictine monk promised to
write the book overnight to atone for his sins. When he realized the task
was impossible, he asked the devil for help. The page with the
illustration of the devil the one visitors see.
The manuscript was likely written by one monk from
the Benedictine monastery in Podlazice located some 100 kilometers (65
miles) east of Prague sometime at the beginning of the 13th century, said
Zdenek Uhlir, a specialist on medieval manuscripts at the National
It contains "a sum of the Benedictine order's
knowledge" of the time, including the Old and New Testament, "The War of
the Jews" by the first-century historian Josephus Flavius, a list of
saints, or a guideline how to determine the date of Easter, Uhlir
"I would estimate it took him between 10 and 12 years
to write," he said about the piece, which weighs 75 kilograms (165
pounds). Originally, it had 640 pages, of which 624 survived in relatively
good condition, he said.
The book was transported to the Czech Republic in a
military plane. Authorities would not give any details about security
measures adopted at the library. It has previously been displayed in New
York and Berlin.
Original article: USA Today
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