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Magnificent Manuscripts



Magnificent Manuscripts
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.79

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    manuscript-copying, monastic, saint-like, unholy, candlelit, scribes, barbaric, uncivilized, shortcuts, parchment, manuscript, feisty, monastery, calligraphy, vermilion, writing
     content words:    Young Saccath, Saint Patrick, Dark Ages, Christian Church, Brother Columba, Brother Finnian, When Brother Finnian, Trinity College


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Magnificent Manuscripts
By Colleen Messina
  

1     In the fifth century A.D., Roman soldiers in Gaul captured a 16-year-old boy and enslaved him in Ireland. This terrible event turned out to be the best thing that happened in the world of writing. Young Saccath looked around at the barbaric Celts and determined to not only survive his enslavement, but also to escape, get an education, and with saint-like determination, come back to help those wild, uncivilized islanders.
 
2     Saccath quietly tended sheep for six years, but he finally escaped and returned home. He became a priest and returned to Ireland to teach the people who had enslaved him. His love of the people and his gentle ways eventually made him the patron saint of his adopted emerald land. Saint Patrick supposedly got rid of bad things in Ireland, like snakes, and he definitely brought good things to Ireland, like Roman letters.
 
3     The Irish appreciated Saint Patrick, and the feisty Celts became fervent, dedicated scholars. They developed the most beautiful manuscript writing in the ancient world and added one important innovation. Rich people who wanted books hired scribes to copy documents, but copying took a long time. The scribes invented shortcuts to make their work easier. Until that time, all letters in books were capitals, but the scribes gradually reduced the size of the letters in the body of the manuscript. These became our small letters.

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