The Codex Gigas is the largest book still in existence from the Medieval time period. Literally, the largest: 36 inches tall, 20 inches wide, 8.7 inches thick, weighing 165 pounds.
A portion of this book became the Catholic Church’s official Latin version of the Bible in the 16th century… and yet, it is often called The Devil’s Bible — and not just because of the of the grinning demon illustration within.
The legend of The Devil’s Bible dates back to the Middle Ages: a monk broke his vows and was sentenced to be sealed up alive in a wall. The monk, terrified, promised to write a volume glorifying the monastery and containing all of human knowledge — and he promised to write it in one night. The monastic order agreed to the plea bargain, but as Midnight approached, the disgraced monk realized he couldn’t do it.
According to legend, the monk prayed to Satan, pledging him his soul in exchange for his help with the book. Satan gladly obliged, and the massive tome was completed.
Some versions of the legend say the monk included the full-page Devil illustration as a thank you to his dark master; others say that the illustration was the signature of the Devil himself.
It’s a great tale, but one that could be written about pretty much any book… except that handwriting experts analyzed the Codex Gigas and decided that it was all written by a single person, uniform across all pages, with no sign of age or a change in the mood of the scribe.
Further tests recreating only the calligraphy — not any of the illustrations or embellishments — show that it would have taken five years of non-stop writing to complete.
This post was written by Nadia Vella