The return of Mary Jones’ Bible to Bala

The Mary Jones Bible returned to Bala, Wales, on 18 March and was on show to the public until 20 March. The Bible left Bala 215 years ago in Mary’s possession.  In 1800, when she was only 15 years old, Mary walked over twenty miles barefoot from Llanfihangel y Pennant to Bala to buy herself a Welsh Bible from Rev Thomas Charles. The story of her walk inspired Rev Charles to found the British and Foreign Bible Society (now Bible Society) in 1804.

Bibles were scarce and expensive, and as Mary was from a poor family she had to save for six years to afford one. When Mary met Rev Charles, her determination to have her own Bible in Welsh profoundly impacted on him, and he wanted to help other people who – like Mary – longed for bibles in their mother tongue, but faced barriers in getting them.

Dr Onesimus Ngundu with Mary Jones' Bible at a Bala primary school

Dr Onesimus Ngundu with Mary Jones’ Bible at a Bala primary school

Mary’s original Bible is kept in the Bible Society Archives at Cambridge University Library. Its guardian who took the Bible back to Bala after over 200 years is the Bible Society Librarian, Dr Onesimus Ngundu. On Friday 18 March he, along with local members of the Bible Society, visited six schools with the Bible.

From 3pm the Bible was taken to Barclays Bank in Bala, which stands on the site of Thomas Charles’ house where Mary Jones received her Bible. On Saturday 19 March over 1,000 people came between 10:00am and 4:00pm to view the Bible at the Mary Jones World visitor centre, recently opened by the Bible Society in Llancycil, Bala. Mary’s story is behind the translation of the Bible into over 2000 languages from all around the world.

Dr Onesimus Ngundu with Mary Jones' Bible and members of the Bible Society Action group, Bala

Dr Onesimus Ngundu with Mary Jones’ Bible and members of the Bible Society, Bala

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