New chapter for Sunderland’s Children’s Codex

The Rt Rev Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow, joins pupils from St Benet'sRC Primary at the launch of The Children's Codex, St Peter's Church, Monkwearmouth.
The Rt Rev Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow, joins pupils from St Benet'sRC Primary at the launch of The Children's Codex, St Peter's Church, Monkwearmouth.
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The next chapter in the history of Sunderland’s Children’s Codex has begun.

The Latin Bible known as the ‘Codex Amiatinus’ left St Peter’s Church for Rome as a gift from Abbot Ceolfrith to Pope Gregory II in June 716.

The Rt Rev Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow, with the Mayor of Sunderland Coun Alan Emerson, at the launch of The Children's Codex, St Peter's Church, Monkwearmouth.

The Rt Rev Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow, with the Mayor of Sunderland Coun Alan Emerson, at the launch of The Children's Codex, St Peter's Church, Monkwearmouth.

Last year a new Children’s Codex was produced with illuminated manuscripts and text from pupils in local schools as part of the SPEAK (St Peter’s Educational Activities for Kids) commemoration programme.

Now the Bible Society has donated more than £7,000 to publish 1,200 bound, fully-illustrated copies of the Children’s Codex to present to every contributing school, and raise awareness of children’s biblical literacy.

Mayor of Sunderland Coun Alan Emerson; Bishop of Jarrow The Right Reverend Mark Bryant’ former High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear John Mowbray OBE and civic guests from Sunderland and South Tyneside gathered at St Peter’s for the launch.

The event featured music and readings from Fulwell Juniors and St Benet’s RC Primary, and all 140 schools involved in the project were invited to attend.

I have followed this fantastic project with great interest since it began, and been delighted with the enthusiasm, skills and talent all our schools have displayed in creating this Children’s Codex for the world.

Coun Alan Emerson

“I have followed this fantastic project with great interest since it began, and been delighted with the enthusiasm, skills and talent all our schools have displayed in creating this Children’s Codex for the world,” said Coun Emerson.

“The original was transcribed and illuminated by the monks and scholars at Wearmouth-Jarrow who established the twin monasteries as a centre of Christian scholarship and learning, at the heart of medieval culture and society. As we bid for the City of Culture 2021 it is perhaps even more important to remember and celebrate that fact.”

The original document, which weighed five-and-a-half stone and was ten inches thick, is stored at the Laurentian library in Florence.

Each of the schools which contributed to the Children’s Codex was given a template to follow reflecting the size and design of pages, with a unique biblical reference for pupils to base their writing and designs on.

Speak’s Graham Nicol said: “One of the four full-sized versions, signed and blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, is now on display at the Vatican, with the others at St Peter’s and St Paul’s or touring our schools as part of the education programme.

“This venture has touched thousands of local children and young people in so many ways. Not only have they all discovered the incredible heritage and history of their city, many have looked at the bible in a new light and become more knowledgeable about it which I hope the Bible Society will continue in schools across the country.”

Programme Officer at the Bible Society Chris Aukland added: “The Codex Amiatinus is one of the rarest and most historically significant Latin Bibles that exists to this day. To commemorate the 1,300th anniversary of its creation the Bible Society helped to develop a facsimile copy to return to the North East.

“But a physical copy is only way of demonstrating the significance of the story of this monumental document.

“We wanted to go deeper and to empower young people not only to experience what it would have been like to create such a huge document, but to enable them to interpret and experience the Bible, to get deep into scripture and to explore what it means to them.”