Tuesday, 12 July 2016


The Demon Of Scattery.

We value books but also take their existence and abundance for granted. Imagine what it was like. The scriptorium at St Sena's monastery has six handwritten manuscripts hanging in leather satchels:

Luke and John;
Matthew and Mark;
the Psalms;
a life of St Brendan the Navigator - who is supposed to have crossed the Atlantic;
the Life and Rule of St Senan;
a translation from Greek into Latin of Hippocrates the Physician.

Not even an entire Bible. Brigit is keen to read Hippocrates. Once, on holiday in Scotland, we lodged at the Cathedral of the Isles. The library had only theology and church history and a single novel by CS Lewis which I reread in preference to anything else on offer.

Brigit's sacked convent had had Virgil! And we remember that Gratillonius, the last King of Ys, loved the Aeneid, but disliked Greek because he did not understand it.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

As I'm sure you realize, when books had to be laboriously copied by hand using costly materials like parchment and vellum, it's no surprise that many monasteries had only what seemed surprisingly few books in their libraries. Compared to what was probably the general rule, St. Senan's Monastery was doing very well to have six books.