This is a Catholic Bible, printed circa 1884, leather bound, measuring 14”x11”x4.” It’s a hefty Bible, weighing 13 pounds or 5.9 kg. Dad gave this Bible to me many years ago and for many years, it has been tucked away in the bottom section of a china cabinet. The Bible is not in the worst of conditions, nor is it in the best. I wondered, as I wandered through it for this challenge, if I could have done something to better preserve dad’s family treasure. The page that may have noted the publisher and publishing date was missing and I would safely guess that there may be one or two others that are gone from the yellowed pages of scripture.
In order to determine the date the Bible was published, I had to complete some research at the websites of Live Auctioneers and Holy Word Antique Bibles. I found Bibles with the same cover, but not the same metal clasps or with similar etching as that on the closed pages of dad’s Bible. Those that I found with the same cover were published in 1884 by P.F. Collier, N.Y.
Peter F. Collier attended St. Mary’s Seminary in Cincinnati for four years. He later formed his own publishing company, printing books for the Roman Catholic market.
I came across a couple of terms that were previously unknown to me: Imprimatur, an official license by the Roman Catholic Church to print an ecclesiastical or religious book; and Vulgate, a late fourth-century Latin translation of the Bible. A respectable and informed Catholic girl might have known this, but evidently I’m not that girl.
In knowing where the Bible came from, its relative age, and the frequent use by my father’s family, I have a newfound appreciation for this cherished book. It’s a special remembrance of dad and confirmation of his faith and that of his family. Delving deeper into Christianity the past several years, I’ve come to appreciate the dedication of my father and mother in Catholicism and their servitude toward our common Savior.
In all likelihood, this Bible will not be handled often. I may look at it from time to time and think fondly of my father. The smart phone Bible app and three soft-covered Bibles are more convenient to use in the long run. And I think it’s safer being tucked away under several shelves of china and away from two cats.
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