Vestry cupboard hid "precious" Welsh Bible
A Bible printed in 1620, one of the first to be produced in Welsh, has been discovered by chance in a vestry cupboard in St Martin and St Enfail’s Church in Merthyr, near Carmarthen.
Mari James, Library Development Officer at St Davids Cathedral describes the 400-year-old Bible as "quite a treasure" and "a precious part of Wales’ history of Christian worship".
Archdeacon, now Bishop-elect, Dorrien Davies, personally delivered the Bible to the Cathedral Library for expert examination after former Merthyr churchwarden Huw Evans found it forgotten and unrecognised among candles, communion wine and linen in the back of the cupboard.
Copies of the Bible, known as the Bishop Parry version, were distributed to all churches in Wales to comply with Queen Elizabeth I’s instruction that everyone should be able to read the Scriptures in their own language. This was the main Reformation project in Wales, intended to consolidate Protestantism.
The volume was based on the 1588 translation by Bishop William Morgan. The Old Testament was translated directly from the original Hebrew and the New Testament from Greek. Some of the work was carried out in St Davids.
These developments led to an upsurge in literacy and education, pioneered in Wales by social and religious reformer John Vaughan of Derllys in Merthyr. Another link with John Vaughan and his celebrated daughter Madam Bevan is a Welsh Book of Common Prayer dating from 1710 in the reign of Queen Anne and found languishing in the same vestry cupboard.