Codex Gigas | The Story of Devil’s Bible With 10 Interesting Facts

The Codex Gigas is said to have been created by a single monk in Bohemia (in modern Czechia). Nonetheless, the Devil housed within makes it extraordinary, not the 620 pages in size. It is said that the book included a Devil’s prayer that might put the world to an end and was purposefully torn out to protect the earth.

The Codex Gigas, which means “huge book,” was made in the 13th century and was initially held at the Benedictine monastery at Podlažice. The manuscript includes not only the New and Old Testaments but also a variety of lesser literature dealing with issues of tremendous practicality at the time, such as exorcism, grammar, a calendar, and medicinal works, to mention a few.

Codex gigas book closed
Codex gigas book closed

The Origin of Codex Gigas or Devil’s Bible 

During the early 13th century, Herman the Recluse was a monk in the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice near Chrudim in the Czech Republic. According to Christian politics, he had breached his monastic vows one day and would be punished for it.

He agreed with the monastery that they would let him live if Herman could create a book containing all human knowledge by the following day. The monastery’s leaders recognized that such a goal was unachievable, so they accepted it.

Herman began drafting the manuscript in his cell, but as the clock struck noon, he knew it would be impossible. As a monk, he recognized that praying to Devil was the greatest choice, so he composed a specific prayer that Lucifer could only hear. Herman promised his soul in return for Lucifer to help him complete the book by the morning.

The monk completed his goal by enlisting the Devil’s assistance and sacrificing his soul. According to the legend, the monk inserted the Devil’s image as a token of gratitude. However, according to some versions of the mythology, the portrait was painted by the Devil himself. 

The Devil was frequently represented in medieval art, but none more so than in the Codex Gigas. The Devil’s picture fills up the entire page and stands alone.

Sample tables of various alphabets on the first page of Codex Gigas
Sample tables of various alphabets on the first page of Codex Gigas

Where is the Devil’s Bible is Displayed

On July 16, 1648, during the closing stages of the Thirty Years War, a detachment of about 100 Swedish troops scaled the city wall, paving the way for almost 3,000 men to assault Prague.

The Emperor and the Austro-Bohemian nobles had gathered vast quantities of riches, which the Swedish forces plundered and sent back to Stockholm.

The manuscript eventually reached Rudolf II’s imperial library in Prague. Still, the entire collection was acquired as spoils of war by the Swedes during the Thirty Years’ War, and it is currently conserved at the National Library of Sweden, where it is on public display.

Codex Gigas Confessions
Codex Gigas Confessions

Contents in Codex Gigas 

The manuscript contains complete translations of the Old and New Testaments, Flavius Josephus’ the Antiquities and The Jewish War, medical writings, shorter works, the Chronicle of Bohemia, and the Encyclopedia. Some claim that the book also included the Rule of St. Benedict but that it was lost to history.

Page from the book
Page from the book

What Information Do You Find Inside Codex Gigas?

The Codex Gigas, made from more than 160 animal hides and needing two people to hoist it, The book contains a Latin translation of the Bible, works by Cosmas and Hippocratesof Prague – not to mention medicinal prescriptions, books on exorcisms, and a gigantic representation of the Devil himself.

Twelve pages of the original manuscript are missing, and what they could have included is unknown; some stories claim the pages contain hidden Satanic teachings, possibly even a way for summoning the Devil himself.

The Specifications and Interesting Facts of Codex Gigas Book

• The codex’s bookbinding is made of leather-covered hardwood boards with intricate metal guards and fittings.

• It is the biggest known medieval manuscript, measuring 92 cm (36 inches ) long, 50 cm (20 inches) broad, and 22 cm (8.7 in) thick.

The Codex Gigas weighs 74.8 kg (165 lb) and is made up of 310 vellum leaves said to be produced from the skins of 160 donkeys or maybe calfskin, covering 142.6 m2 (1,535 sq ft).

• The illuminations in the manuscript are red, blue, yellow, green, and gold. In addition, capital letters at the beginning of Bible and Chronicle volumes are richly illuminated in several colors, often taking up the entire page; 57 of them exist.

Heaven drawn in codex gigas
Heaven drawn in codex gigas

• The illuminations in the manuscript are red, blue, yellow, green, and gold. Capital letters are lavishly illuminated, often spanning the whole page.

• It is said to be the biggest extant European manuscript in the world.

• The Devil’s portrait is coupled with a depiction of the “City of Heaven,” the only other image in the Devil’s Bible.

• It depicts Heaven and Earth in round form.

• The Devil’s Bible is entirely written in Latin.

• Those who have researched it think it previously comprised 320 sheets, ten of which were missing, that presumably held Benedictine monastery regulations. Others, however, contend that the missing pages included apocalyptic writing known as “The Devil’s Prayer,” which was purposefully erased.

The Devil’s Representation

Folio 290, otherwise empty, contains a drawing of the Devil, approximately 50 cm (20 in) tall. Directly opposite the Devil is a full-page picture of the kingdom of heaven, thereby juxtaposing conflicting imagery of Good and Evil.

Illustration of the Devil in the Codex Gigas
Illustration of the Devil in the Codex Gigas

The Devil is depicted frontally, crouched with his arms raised in a dramatic pose. He is dressed in a white loincloth with little red comma dashes.

These dashes have been interpreted as ermine fur tails, a popular sign of sovereignty. However, he lacks a tail and has average human dimensions for his body, arms, and legs. His hands and feet have just four fingers and toes apiece, which finish in gigantic claws; his claws and big horns are also crimson.

He has a vast, dark green head with thick curls that create a skull cap. His crimson-tipped ears are enormous, and his eyes are tiny with red pupils. His wide mouth displays two long red tongues protruding from the corners of his mouth and his little white teeth.

He has a massive, perfectly spherical, dark green head with hair resembling the terrible sin of envy, creating a skull cap of thick tiny curls. His eyes are small, with red pupils that give him a cruel look, and his red-tipped ears are enormous, allowing him to catch up with all the rumors and slander that entitles him to the calumniators’ souls.

His broad, leering lips display two long crimson tongues flickering from the corners of his mouth and his little white teeth. This doubling of tongues conjures up images of serpents with forked tongues and fake, double-tongued humans.


Scholars have been studying the manuscript for years and are still baffled. However, the writing has a cohesive appearance that is mainly consistent throughout the book and displays no symptoms of age, sickness, or mood on the part of the scribe. This suggests that the work was composed in a relatively short period.

However, a book of this size would take at least 30 years or more to write.

The consistency of the writing and research were done on the ink itself suggests that it was not a group of scribes working together because there would have been variations in the lettering and ink composition.

The Codex Gigas is unquestionably the most significant book of the Middle Ages and was even regarded as one of the world’s wonders at the time. The strange depiction of the Devil on one of its pages is responsible for fueling the tale regarding the book’s origins and giving rise to its moniker (“the Devil’s Bible”).

However, the image was merely included in the text because the reader will discover a representation of the City of God on the next page: the author demonstrated the antithesis of good and evil, heaven and hell.