During the European Middle Ages, literacy and written texts were largely the province of religious institutions. Richly illustrated manuscripts were created in monasteries for use by members of religious institutions and by the nobility. Some of these illuminated manuscripts were embellished with luxurious paints and pigments, including gold leaf and ultramarine, a rare and expensive blue pigment made from lapis lazuli stone.
In a study published in Science Advances, an international team of researchers led by the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the University of York shed light on the role of women in the creation of such manuscripts with a surprising discovery — the identification of lapis lazuli pigment embedded in the calcified dental plaque of a middle-aged woman buried at a small women’s monastery in Germany around 1100 AD. Their analysis suggests that the woman was likely a painter of richly illuminated religious texts. (1)
Reading. Writing. Praying.
We see the evidence.
To prove that something happened.
We analyze the dental plaque.
To know what this woman did.
And yet, all her efforts are cancelled.
By our lust for proof.
By our eagerness for knowledge.
For the books she helped write, called on for a different kind of knowledge. Knowledge not based on books or proof. Knowledge not based on what you see or hear. But wisdom based on the unseen and the unprovable. For it is that which is the only thing worth seeking in this irrational life governed by the unseen and the unprovable.
That woman did write or supported the writing of holy books. And she did so without the need to prove that to anyone. Her belief was strong enough not to ask for such earthly manifests of recognition. For she recognized the true essence of herself in the humility of a God who came to Earth as a Man and who was recognized by only a few fishermen.
So, the next time you open such a book, remember.
It is not a book written to be read.
But a book which is already read and that is why it was written…