August 16

“Dear Doctor: A moment of historical importance, not only for our monastery but for the whole civilized and literary world, has come on: the moment in which we are about to put into your hands the most precious jewel of our archives, one of the oldest books of the world, a copy of the parchment-bible, printed by Johann zu Gutenberg himself, the world-renowned German inventor of the art of printing.”

And so saying, Pater Dr. Herman Peissl, O.S.B. of the Benedictine Monastery st. Paul, in Carinthia (Austria) banded over to Dr. Otto H. F. Vollbehr this day in 1930 the finest copy extant of the Gutenberg Bible, for delivery to the United States Library of Congress.

Continuing, Dr. Peissl said: “In this memorable moment, we are thankfully looking back upon our dear ancestors and brethren, who were the true wardens of this treasure for centuries and centuries. In this moment we state in the face of the world, that the alienation of the famous work was a need-sale, brought about by the downfall of the financial state of our monastery after and in consequence of the Great War.

“A special thank you are deserving for preserving the book, sacred by age and contents, from the sort of getting an object of commerce, as you intend to incorporate the work bought by you into the Congress-Library of the United States, whereby it will be accessible for the publicity in much higher a degree than it was possible hitherto.”

This great Bible, the only one of the forty-seven known copies to be bound in three volumes, and from which the monastery realized $250,000, has fulfilled one of Dr. Peissl’s predictions. In the Library of Congress it has been viewed by more people than any other copy of the Gutenberg Bible.

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