BY Ian Dunn | April 17 | comments icon 2 COMMENTS     print icon print

13-ST-CUTHBERT-GOSPEL

British Library buys St Cuthbert Gospel from Jesuits

A fee of £9 million is paid for one of the world’s most important books

The British Library has paid £9 million to acquire the St Cuthbert Gospel, the oldest fully intact European book.

The palm-sized book (above), a manuscript copy of the Gospel of John in Latin, was bought from the British branch of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), the library said today.

The book measures 96mm x 136mm and has an elaborately tooled red leather cover. It comes from the time of St Cuthbert, who died in 687, and it was discovered inside his coffin when it was opened in 1104 at Durham Cathedral. The British Library said the artifact is one of the world’s most important books.

“To look at this small and intensely beautiful treasure from the Anglo-Saxon period is to see it exactly as those who created it in the seventh century would have seen it,” Lynne Brindley, the library’s chief executive, said. “The exquisite binding, the pages, even the sewing structure survive intact, offering us a direct connection with our forebears 1300 years ago.”

In 2010, the library was approached by auction house Christie’s, which was acting on behalf of the Gospel’s owner, the Society of Jesus (British Province) or Jesuits, who wished to sell the book to raise funds for education and restoration works.

The library was given first option to purchase the manuscript, which was valued at £9 million.

Half of the price of the Gospel came from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, established in 1980 to safeguard works of art and wildlife havens for the nation. Other funding came from the Art Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation and the Foyle Foundation, as well as donations from unnamed charitable trusts and individuals.

The British Library has opened a special display exploring the creation, travels and ‘near-miraculous’ survival of the Gospel across 13 centuries. It has also been digitised and made freely available online.

Comments - 2 Responses

  1. Eileen McBride says:

    Why on earth did they open St Cuthbert’s coffin? I’m glad I’m not a saint, They just don’t get left to rest in peace, do they?

  2. J Wilson says:

    I would recommend the St Cuthbert’s way to anyone interested in St Cuthbert – its a walk from Melrose to Lindisfarne.

Leave a Reply

latest news

Prayer vigil for Scotland’s future

September 1st, 2014 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS

Tyburn Benedictine Convent to hold evening of prayer through the...


Italy takes Islamic State threat on Pope seriously

September 1st, 2014 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS

In spite of Vatican’s lack of immediate concern, the Italian...


Scotland’s archbishops urge Catholics to vote in independence referendum.

August 29th, 2014 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS

In messages to their parishioners to be read this weekend,...


Officers cleared of ‘sectarian’ interrogation of former MP’s wife

August 29th, 2014 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS

Questions remain over the nature of the questioning of Gail...




Social media

Latest edition

Layout 1

exclusively in the paper

  • Bishop Toal leads 50th celebrations for St Bride’s, East Kilbride, after both sad and good news.
  • Rector of Pontifical Scots College in Rome officially named a monsignor in ceremony in his home Archdiocese of Glasgow.
  • Christine Glen brings readers some of Edinburgh Fringe Festival highlights.
  • Margaret Sinclair pilgrimage will take place on Sunday at 2pm at St Patrick’s Church, Cowgate, Edinburgh with Archbishop Cushley.
  • The Queenship of Mary and Polish pilgrimages to Carfin.

Previous editions

Previous editions of the Scottish Catholic Observer newspaper are only available to subscribed Members. To download previous editions of the paper, please subscribe.

note: registered members only.

Read the SCO