Book of Kells now available to browse online

Queen Elizabeth II examines the Book of Kells on May 17, 2011. (John Stillwell/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II examines the Book of Kells on May 17, 2011. (John Stillwell/Getty Images)

If St. Patrick's Day means more to you than wearing green and drinking Guinness, this news from Trinity College in Dublin should be cause for celebration.

The famous Book of Kells, which is housed at Trinity and dates back centuries, is now available to view online. The beautifully preserved manuscript features the four Gospels of the New Testament and incorporates remarkable artwork and colors.

Trinity writes that the origin of the Book of Kells "is generally attributed to the scriptorium of the monastery founded around 561 by St Colum Cille on Iona, an island off the west coast of Scotland." The college writes that it "must have been close to the year 800 that the Book of Kells was written, although there is no way of knowing if the book was produced wholly at Iona or at Kells, or partially at each location."

For many in Ireland and around the world, the book celebrates the power of the Christian faith as well as the importance of learning and artistry. The book has also served as a tremendous point of pride for Ireland. People can still visit the book (actually, four separately bound books) in person in Dublin. However, only one page is displayed at a time.

You can browse the book's 600+ pages here. Unless you know Latin, you probably won't understand much. But the artwork and care that have gone into the book's preservation are both reason enough to take a look.

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