Long-lost 16th century book returns to Olomouc thanks to Italian police

Photo: Blanka Mazalová, Czech Radio

A valuable book from the early 16th century, which went missing from the Olomouc Archbishopric more than 80 years ago, was recently rediscovered. The postil, or a set of comments on Biblical texts, was officially handed over this week by the Italian police, who seized it at an auction in Trieste last year.

The lost and found 16th century book, which disappeared from the Olomouc Archbishopric in the 1940s, contains interpretations of New Testament epistles and gospels that were read at Mass during the liturgical year. Its editor was an unknown Dominican, William of Paris, who died in 1485.

The copy in question was published in Basel in 1518. It is lavishly decorated with woodcuts by a local artist and bound in brown leather adorned with a blind-print of the Crucifixion. How it got from Basel to Olomouc is also a bit of a mystery, says archivist Štěpán Kohout:

“We know that it was in the hands of a Bohemian Protestant who wrote down notes in the margins, some with a strongly anti-Catholic tone. Then it somehow came into the hands of the Olomouc priest David Pipper of Jáchymov, who was also the chapter librarian, and he donated the book to the library.”

See the rest here.

Authors: Ruth Fraňková, Blanka Mazalová