But not just any library, it was the British Library just next the the architecturally amazing St Pancras Railway Station in London. Inside the library were some of the worlds greatest literary treasures. Here are a few examples:
Hand written notes and music from people such as Oscar Wilde, Karl Marx, Jane Austin, Emily Bronte, Mozart, Chopin, Handel, Michelangelo and De Vinci. The list goes on and on.
There was Shakespeare’s first folio printed 7 years after his death, which would put you back a cool five million US dollars, and an original Magna Carta, worth about fifteen million US dollars. But the priceless book that caught my eye was the St Cuthbert Gospel of John, bought at auction in 2012 for the tidy sum of thirteen million US dollars.
This book was buried 1,300 years ago with St Cuthbert, one of Britain’s most famous Medieval Christian leaders and now patron saint of Northern England. It remained undisturbed for 400 years, so it’s condition is excellent. It looks unremarkable and could have come from grandmas attic, being a a small brown book a little smaller than an iPad.
But that’s the point, it’s a book! It’s the oldest in Europe that we would consider a normal modern book, bound at the back, with stitched paged and a leather cover. It is considered one of Britain’s greatest treasures and when it went up for auction the library had to have it. Donations flooded in to help get the book.
But what’s more precious that the St Cuthbert Gospel? It’s the message inside it that is infinitely more priceless. Worth more than all the 160,000 tonnes of gold stored in all the vaults in all the world. More than the earth itself. It’s the true message of the purpose of life, the record of the coming to earth of our creator, of His love for humanity and humanity’s special place in his heart, of his infinite sacrifice for us, and his desire for relationship with us mere humans.
The physical pages are not the real treasure, it’s the truth contained on the pages that changed the history of the world from one of paganism, superstition, poverty and spiritual darkness to relationship, sonship, material progress and eternal life. Western civilisation was built on that message.
I think if St Cuthbert was to visit us today, he too would really want us to be focusing on the message, not just the physical book that was buried with him all those years ago.