Notre Dame revealed a special addition to its rare books collection on Tuesday.
The university recently acquired a 224-year-old Bible that once belonged to Rev. Stephen Badin. The Bible was printed in three parts and specifically given to Badin, who was a pioneer priest with a specific tie to the university.
”Father Badin gave the land to the Diocese of Vincennes, 540 acres that eventually became the University of ND. So the local connection is tremendously significant,” said Kathleen Cummings, Director of the Cushwa Center for the study of American Catholicism.
The Bible is also significant to American history as a whole.
“It is part of a 1790 printing of the first Catholic version of the Bible, printed in the United States, the Douay-Rheims version, and was printed by Mathew Carey in Philadelphia in 1790. There were 400 volumes printed in that edition, of which only 26 remain,” said Cummings.
Notre Dame was contacted by The Sisters of Loretto in Nerinx, Ky. about buying the Bible from them. The sisters have had the books for about 200 years and only recently realized what a valuable artifact it was. They reached out to the university because they did not feel the Bible could be properly studied and appreciated in Nerinx, Ky.
Notre Dame says it received some grants to purchase the three books but did not want to disclose the total amount it paid.
“It was a sum that would astonish some people, but anyone who knows of the value of this would say that it wasn’t a question that it was something that we would acquire,” said Cummings.
The Bible is available for the public to see. It is in the rare books room of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library.