A 450-Year-Old Bible is Used During the Inauguration of the President of Ukraine

If you decide to watch the inauguration ceremony of the Ukrainian President, you’ll see a medieval book used during the oath-taking. That’s the Peresopnytsia Gospel. A handwritten Bible that is more than 450 years old.

I’m not sure I’ve seen any other presidential oath-taking that included such an old and fragile tome.

The tradition to use a medieval book that is supposed to be the first translation of the Bible to the Ukrainian language began with the first President of Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk. The idea was that the President-elect will put each of his hands on two books: Consitution of Ukraine and the Bible. Peresopnytsia Gospel was chosen for the second role, but the Constitution of independent Ukraine was enacted only five years later, so they had to use the Constitution of Soviet Ukraine instead. As Leonid Kravchuk damaged one of the images of the apostle Luke when he laid his hand on the page, it was later decided that Peresopnytsia Gospel should remain closed during the future oath-takings.

Photo: Mikhail Markiv / CC BY / https://www.president.gov.ua/photos/thumbs/urochisti-zahodi-z-nagodi-skladennya-prisyagi-prezidentom-uk-2905

 

However, it may have been not the original copy, but a facsimile edition that was used during the inauguration. Ukrainian news service TSN reported several days ago that an almost identical copy of the book was made for that occasion. It features all the damage and wear marks of the original, including the smallest of fingerprints.

The Peresopnytsia Gospel was made between 15 August 1556 and 29 August 1561, at the Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Iziaslav, and the Monastery of the Mother of God in Peresopnytsia, Volyn’. The scribe was Mykhailo Vasyl’ovych, son of an archpriest from Sianik. The illuminated manuscript is ornamented with Glagolitic characters. Nowadays it is stored at the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine.

Read more about the Peresopnytsia Gospel in English, Ukrainian, and Russian.

On a video from the inauguration, you may see the book from other angles and much closer:

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