Schoolchildren’s version of historic bible to be presented to the Pope

The Mayor and Mayoress of South Tyneside, Coun Alan and Moira Smith, and Coun John Kelly, Lead Member for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, with children in monks robes carrying the Childrens Codex.
The Mayor and Mayoress of South Tyneside, Coun Alan and Moira Smith, and Coun John Kelly, Lead Member for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, with children in monks robes carrying the Childrens Codex.

Schoolchildren have created their own version of a historic bible to be presented to the Pope.

Youngsters and civic leaders are celebrating the 1,300th anniversary of the world’s oldest surviving bible – that was penned in the North East.

The Codex Amiatinus was transcribed and illuminated thirteen centuries ago at the Wearmouth Jarrow monastery and is now stored at the Laurentian library in Florence.

As part of the Codex Amiatinus 1,300th commemoration programme, children from schools in Jarrow and Sunderland have created a Children’s Codex which will also travel to Rome to be presented to Pope Francis at the Vatican later this year.

Church and civic leaders joined school children at St Paul’s, in Jarrow, for a service to present the Children’s Codex to the congregation before sending it off onto its journey across the world.

The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Alan Smith, said: “It was a privilege to attend the service. The creative talents of our young people, and the historic origins of the Codex, were celebrated by people from both Jarrow and Sunderland.

“I am thrilled that schools in Jarrow have been a part of this wonderful project. It was fantastic to see the Children’s Codex and to meet some of the school children who have helped to illustrate and write pages.

“Now the Codex will go on its way to the Pope in Rome where people across the world will be able to celebrate the hard work and creativity of our young people.”

Every school in Jarrow and Sunderland was invited to take part in the project co-ordinated by SPEAK (St Peter’s Educational Activities for Kids) as part of the Codex Amiatinus 1,300 commemoration programme.

Each school was given a section of the Codex to re-create following a template reflecting the size and design of pages.

The result of their work has been bound into four volumes, three to be left on display in their respective communities and one to follow in the footsteps of the original literary pilgrimage to Rome to be put on display at the Vatican.

Coun John Kelly, lead member for public health, wellness and culture at Sunderland City Council, said: “This fantastic project not only celebrates our cultural heritage but also our creative future, demonstrating the talent of young people in our community today.

“The ‘Codex Amiatinus’ was Wearmouth – Jarrow’s literary gift to the world and we can all proud that it is being commemorated in such a fitting way on the thirteen hundredth anniversary of that first pilgrimage to Rome.”     

As part of its pilgrimage, the Children’s Codex will travel to London to be signed and blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, on Wednesday, June 8, before it continues its journey to the Vatican in Rome later this year.

Local train company Grand Central has donated free tickets for six children individually representing every Jarrow, infant, primary, secondary, special educational needs and Catholic school and an adult travelling companion on their service from Sunderland to King’s Cross, to take the Children’s Codex to Westminster.

Church and civic leaders will also join together tomorrow to recreate one of the most important events in religious literary history.

Thirteen centuries ago on June 4, 716AD the Latin Bible left St Peter’s Church for Rome as a gift from Abbot Ceolfrith to Pope Gregory II.

Tomorrow, the Children’s Codex will by carried by four children from the church, accompanied by the Mayor of Sunderland Coun Alan Emerson, Mayor of South Tyneside, Bishop of Jarrow, Mark Bryant, High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear, John Mowbray OBE, and Reverend Dick Bradshaw of Monkwearmouth Parish, and be presented to Bede at the boundary gate.

In costume he will then take the Children’s Codex down to the Marina and get on a boat across the Wear to the Old Exchange Buildings where it will be displayed at the Sunderland History Fair.