Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Old World @ St. Paul

Walking leisurely through a large manicured garden to the St. Paul's Benedictine Abbey, one could never have imagined it's huge collection of ancient books dating back to more than 900 years ago.

Rows upon rows of impressive towering shelves full of books with brittle pages greeted us at the entrance. It's a wonder than I even dare to heave a sign of breath near them - for fear that the pages would simply be reduced to ashes and lay scattered on the floor.

Plugged into the audio guide, I was led into the ancient world of monks who had the privilege to read and copy countless volumes of manuscripts when literacy was rare. This is the first time the Abbey's opening it's doors and exhibiting it's priceless documents to the public; from centuries-old documents to the World's oldest printed book to the oldest manuscript dating back to the 4th century found outside the Vatican City.

What intrigued me the most was the section on "Forbidden Books". In today's world when most scientific studies or discoveries are made quickly known to the public, it was a forbbiden subject in the past. Forbbiden because it provided an alternative, scientific explanation to things other than the powers of God which might possibly shake the very foundation of the Monasteries and Abbeys' preach of faith to the believers. Even so, the monks were actively researching and recording their scientific findings only to have the documents locked away from the prying eyes of the public.

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