Will Sideri bought this page for $75. It could be worth $10,000. (Will Sideri via AP)

Will Sideri bought this page for $75. It could be worth $10,000. (Will Sideri via AP)

Will Sideri (Caitlin Penna/Colby College)

Will Sideri (Caitlin Penna/Colby College)

Beauvais Cathedral is in France. (123RF)

Beauvais Cathedral is in France. (123RF)

This is another page from the Beauvais Missal. (Public domain)

This is another page from the Beauvais Missal. (Public domain)

Middle Ages to Maine

Posted: November 1, 2022

Will Sideri went to an estate sale in Maine. He was looking for a KitchenAid mixer, a bookshelf, or clothing. Instead, he found a 700-year-old treasure!

Mr. Sideri saw a framed paper on a wall. On it were Latin words in fancy lettering. There were also musical notes and gold decorations. The price tag said it was from A.D. 1285. And it was $75.

Mr. Sideri had taken a class on medieval manuscripts. He thought the page looked like a real antique.

The parchment turned out to be from The Beauvais Missal. A missal is a book with prayers and readings for a Roman Catholic worship service (mass). This book was used at Beauvais Cathedral in France hundreds of years ago. It was made in the late 1200s.

Illuminated manuscripts like this one are handwritten. The parchment is decorated with borders and small paintings. Tiny amounts of gold (gold leaf) make pages shine.

Lisa Fagin Davis studies these manuscripts. She learned that people divided The Beauvais Missal into pages and sold them separately in the 1940s.

Ms. Davis is researching the missal. She’s found more than 100 pages across the country. But there were 309 pages in the original book. Just a few hundred more to go!

That $75 find turned out to be worth more than $10,000. But Mr. Sideri doesn’t plan to sell it. He likes the history and beauty of the parchment—and the story of how he stumbled upon it.

Why? God makes much of His creation not only useful but beautiful. People do the same! Illuminated manuscripts were one way that people could glorify God through word and art.