“I solemnly swear that I will faithfully perform the office of President of the United States and that to the best of my ability, I will preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Like almost all of his predecessors, Joe Biden took the oath of his investiture with his hand over a Bible. But not just any. This is a copy of a Bible translated from Latin to English in Douai, over 400 years ago.
The Douai Bible is the work of members of an English religious college, persecuted and exiled from their country after the reestablishment of Protestantism. Founded by William Allen, this Catholic seminary created to train priests in order to strengthen the Catholic tradition in the face of the Protestant reform in England, was founded in 1569 at the University of Douai. The English translation of the Latin vulgate (Latin version of the Bible) was done in several stages. First there was the New Testament printed in Reims in 1582. Then a few years later, in 1609, it was the turn of the Old Testament to be published, this time in Douai.
Over time, the Douai Bible has become a reference for all Anglo-Saxon Catholics. The book still has its place in practicing families. Joe Biden’s Bible is also a family heirloom (19th century) that he used during his previous investitures, as senator from Delaware or vice-president. And, exceptionally, Joe Biden is not the first President of the United States of the Catholic faith to have taken an oath on this Bible: John Fitzgerald Kennedy had done so 60 years before.
Proud of this cultural heritage, the Douai library acquired in 2005 an original edition of the famous bible for the sum of 30,000 euros. This treasure rarely leaves the reserves. On the occasion of the investiture of Joe Biden, the work is exceptionally visible until Saturday, January 23.