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. And Czechs were eager to see it, officials said Friday.
The priceless piece, considered the biggest medieval book, was taken from the PragueCastle 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 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 Library.