What are the Lindisfarne Gospels?

Lindisfarne Gospel
   During the early Middle Ages, monks were among the few people in Europe who could read and write. Almost all books dating from this period were written out by hand in monastery workshops. In this age of great faith, the work that was copied most often was the Bible. The monks were painstakingly careful, for a manuscript containing the word of God was consid­erad to be a sacred object whose visual beauty should reflect the importance of its contents. To glorify God, the monks illuminated, or illustrated, the pages with gold leaf and intricate designs.
   The Lindisfarne Gospels are among the most beautiful of the early illuminated books. They were produced around 700 a.d. in the monastery of Lindisfarne. Now called Holy Island, Lindisfarne is off the northeastern coast of England. It was one of England's early centers of learning.
   The image shown here is the beginning of the Gospel According to St. John, part of the New Testament. Interlaced ribbons, circles, and other designs decorate the border of the page and the words. The Latin words mean, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God."