The Bible was at the centre of medieval life in Latin Christendom. The standard version of the Biblical text was the Vulgate (the editio vulgata, or “common version”): this was the Latin translation first produced by St. Jerome in the late fourth century. Small Bibles (or “pocket Bibles”) such as this English example were extremely popular from the thirteenth century onward. The single-volume format and the development of thinner, paper-like parchment allowed for much greater portability.
The thirteenth-century saw the emergence of mendicant religious orders, namely the Franciscans and Dominicans, whose members—called friars—renounced personal property and led itinerant (or roaming) lives devoted to preaching. Small, portable Bibles such as this one were the mendicant orders’ greatest tool in their mission to emulate the example of the Apostles and exhort their listeners to live pious, moral lives. Evidence within this particular manuscript suggests that it may have been used by members of both orders.
The library is committed to ensuring that members of our user community with disabilities have equal access to our services and resources and that their dignity and independence is always respected. If you encounter a barrier and/or need an alternate format, please fill out our Library Print and Multimedia Alternate-Format Request Form. Contact us if you’d like to provide feedback: