The Prince and the Plunder

A book on how Britain took one boy and piles of treasures from Ethiopia

Prayers to the Virgin and various saints (MS.95) *

Published / by Andrew Heavens / Leave a Comment

What: A 16th-17th manuscript containing a “collection of prayers to the Virgin and various saints, including Takla Hāymānōt,” probably from Magdala

Where: The National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EW

The database entry labels it MS. 95 and describes it as made of vellum and written in Ge’ez, with rough wooden boards.

Another page in the library database says it is one of two manuscripts “acquired by General Sir William Knox, Knight Commander of the Bath, probably during the Abyssinian campaign of 1867-1868“.

The National Library also has an Ethiopic copy of the Four Gospels, previously in the collection of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, that was “procured” at one of the British force’s stops on the way to Magdala.

Its story, together with that of some smaller manuscripts currently in Edinburgh University’s Library, is told in Volume 8 (1868-70) of The Proceedings of the Antiquaries of Scotland. This says: “The large book, believed to be the Priest’s Bible, or rather the one belonging to the church, and from which he explained to his people, was procured in a church between Adabagah and Dongalo, about thirty-two or thirty-three miles south of Adigrat. The smaller book and scrolls were mostly procured in the neighbourhood of Senafe, from churches and villages. One of the boos was said to be the Psalms … Presented … by Captain Charles McInroy, Staff Service, Madras.”

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