The manuscript of the devil.
The many misteries of the devil’s book.
There are many precious and misterious manuscripts kept safe in museum vaults or private collections that are coated with legends and marvellous stories. Some of them are so precious that their prices cannot even be estimated.
However, one of them in particular is so peculiar and special that it deserves an article all of its own. We’re talking about the Codex Gigas (Giant Book). This incredible manuscript is the biggest medieval manuscript in existence. The book has another name, more reknown and fascinating: The devil’s bible. This name comes from the fact that the manuscript holds a giant illustration of the devil on one of its pages. The legend around this picture still waits to be unfolded.
The manuscript is thought to have been created in the early 12th century inside the walls of the Benedectine monastery of Podlazice in Bohemia ( now Czech Republic). This favolous piece of art contains the Vulgate bible and many other pieces written in Latin. The history of the manuscript if entangled with the Thirty Years’ War and is now kept safe in the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm.
The legend goes like this: a monk who broke his vows was sentenced to be walled alive. In order to avoid said punishment he promised to write an entire giant manuscript in only one night. While at work he knew he couldn’t have done it alone, so he prayed to the devil for help in exchange of his own soul. The devil answered him and the monk inserted the dark being’s illustration in the book out of malevolent gratitude.
Is it true? Is it just a legend? Or is it real? We’ll never know, but what we know is that the manuscript can be publicly viewed at the museum! Pay a visit if you go to Stockholm.