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.
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.
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.
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 said.
“I would estimate it took him between 10 and 12 years to write,” he said about the piece, which weighs 75 kilograms (165 pounds).