Centuries-Old Medieval Manuscripts Added to UBC Collection

Credit: UBC Public Affairs

Credit: UBC Public Affairs

The University of British Columbia Library has added two medieval manuscripts -  a rare 13th-century “student Bible” and a private devotional book called a Book of Hours - to its rare book holdings.

The titles were purchased at auction in December, 2015 using donor funds; the Bible cost about $172,000, while the Book of Hours cost about $39,000.

The Bible manuscript is the only one of its kind in a Canadian collection and features intricate text in Latin, which is punctuated by blue and red initials. Notes from past users are scribbled in the margins, while a handwritten “concordance” – or reference section – is featured at the back. The “Book of Hours” dates to the 15th century, and is written mostly in Latin, with some French.

“These were very strategic acquisitions,” said Sian Echard, head of UBC’s department of English, in a press release. “They bring the Library’s medieval collection to an entirely new level.”

Both manuscripts can be viewed at the Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections division, located at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. Digitized versions of the student Bible and Book of Hours can be viewed via the Library’s open collections portal.

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