13 February 1955

Israel obtains four of the seven Dead Sea Scrolls.

On February 13, 1955, Israel’s prime minister, Moshe Sharett, held a press conference to announce that the country had acquired four more of the fabled Dead Sea Scrolls, an acquisition of sterling importance to scholars of ancient Judaism and early Christianity and a real coup for the fledgling state’s national pride.

The initial discovery of what came to be known collectively as the Dead Sea Scrolls — referring to whole documents and fragments of some 950 parchment scrolls, dating to the period between the 3rd century B.C.E. and the 1st century C.E. — was in 1946. That’s when three Bedouin of the Ta’amra tribe happened upon the first part of a cache of seven rolled-up pieces of parchment, stored for over 2,000 years in clay jars in a cave in the hills overlooking the western shore of the Dead Sea, adjacent to the site known as Qumran, north of Ein Gedi.

12 February 1961

The USSR launches Venera 1 towards Venus.

On November 16, 1965, Soviet spacecraft Venera 3 was launched. The Venera program space probe was built and launched by the Soviet Union to explore the surface of Venus. It possibly crashed on Venus on 1 March 1966, possibly making Venera 3 the first space probe to hit the surface of another planet.

The Venera Series Space Probes
The Venera series space probes were developed by the Soviet Union between 1961 and 1984 to gather data from Venus, Venera being the Russian name for Venus. The first Soviet attempt at a flyby probe to Venus was launched on February 4, 1961, but failed to leave Earth orbit. In keeping with the Soviet policy at that time of not announcing details of failed missions, the launch was announced under the name Tyazhely Sputnik “Heavy Satellite”. It is also known as Venera 1VA. Venera 1 and Venera 2 were intended as fly-by probes to fly past Venus without entering orbit. Venera 1 , also known as Venera-1VA No.2 and occasionally in the West as Sputnik 8 was launched on February 12, 1961. Telemetry on the probe failed seven days after launch. It flew past Venus on 19 May. However, since radio contact with the probe was lost before the flyby, no data could be returned. It is believed to have passed within 100,000 km of Venus and remains in heliocentric orbit. With the help of the British radio telescope at Jodrell Bank, some weak signals from Venera 1 may have been detected in June. Soviet engineers believed that Venera-1 failed due to the overheating of a solar-direction sensor.

Venera 2 also Lost
Venera 2 launched on November 12, 1965, but also suffered a telemetry failure after leaving Earth orbit. The Venera 2 spacecraft was equipped with cameras, as well as a magnetometer, solar and cosmic x-ray detectors, piezoelectric detectors, ion traps, a Geiger counter and receivers to measure cosmic radio emissions The spacecraft made its closest approach to Venus at 02:52 UTC on 27 February 1966, at a distance of 23,810 km. During the flyby, all of Venera 2’s instruments were activated, requiring that radio contact with the spacecraft be suspended. The probe was to have stored data using onboard recorders, and then transmitted it to Earth once contact was restored. Following the flyby the spacecraft failed to reestablish communications with the ground. It was declared lost on 4 March. An investigation into the failure determined that the spacecraft had overheated due to a radiator malfunction. Several other failed attempts at Venus flyby probes were launched by the Soviet Union in the early 1960s, but were not announced as planetary missions at the time, and hence did not officially receive the “Venera” designation.

11 February 1929

The Kingdom of Italy and the Vatican sign the Lateran Treaty.

The Lateran Treaty was one of the Lateran Pacts of 1929 or Lateran Accords, agreements made in 1929 between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See, settling the “Roman Question”. They are named after the Lateran Palace, where they were signed on 11 February 1929. The Italian parliament ratified them on 7 June 1929. It recognized Vatican City as an independent state, with the Italian government, at the time led by Benito Mussolini as prime minister, agreeing to give the Roman Catholic Church financial compensation for the loss of the Papal States. In 1947, the Lateran Treaty was recognized in the Constitution of Italy as regulating the relations between the state and the Catholic Church.

The Lateran Pacts are often presented as three treaties: a 27-article treaty of conciliation, a 3-article financial convention, and a 45-article concordat. However, the website of the Holy See presents the pacts as two, making the financial convention an annex of the treaty of conciliation. In this presentation, the pacts consisted of two documents, the first of which had four annexes:

A political treaty recognising the full sovereignty of the Holy See in the State of Vatican City, which was thereby established, a document accompanied by the annexes:
A plan of the territory of the Vatican City-State, with an area of 108.7 acres
A list and plans of the buildings with extraterritorial privilege and exemption from expropriation and taxes
A financial convention agreed on as a definitive settlement of the claims of the Holy See following the loss in 1870 of its territories and property. The Italian state agreed to pay 750,000,000 lire immediately plus consolidated bearer bonds with a coupon rate of 5% and a nominal value of 1,000,000,000 lire. It thus paid less than it would have paid {3.25 million liras annually} under the 1871 Law of Guarantees, which the Holy See had not accepted.
A concordat regulating relations between the Catholic Church and the Italian state

During the unification of Italy in the mid-19th century, the Papal States resisted incorporation into the new nation, even as all the other Italian countries, except for San Marino, joined it; Camillo Cavour’s dream of proclaiming the Kingdom of Italy from the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica did not come to pass. The nascent Kingdom of Italy invaded and occupied Romagna in 1860, leaving only Latium in the Pope’s domains. Latium, including Rome itself, was occupied and annexed in 1870. For the following sixty years, relations between the Papacy and the Italian government were hostile, and the status of the Pope became known as the “Roman Question”.

“ The Popes knew that Rome was irrevocably the capital of Italy. There was nothing they wanted less than to govern it or be burdened with a papal kingdom. What they wished was independence, a foothold on the earth that belonged to no other sovereign. ”
Negotiations for the settlement of the Roman Question began in 1926 between the government of Italy and the Holy See, and culminated in the agreements of the Lateran Pacts, signed—the Treaty says—for King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy by Benito Mussolini, Prime Minister and Head of Government, and for Pope Pius XI by Pietro Gasparri, Cardinal Secretary of State, on 11 February 1929. It was ratified on 7 June 1929. The agreements were signed in the Lateran Palace, hence the name by which they are known.

The agreements included a political treaty which created the state of the Vatican City and guaranteed full and independent sovereignty to the Holy See. The Pope was pledged to perpetual neutrality in international relations and to abstention from mediation in a controversy unless specifically requested by all parties. In the first article of the treaty, Italy reaffirmed the principle established in the 4 March 1848 Statute of the Kingdom of Italy, that “the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Religion is the only religion of the State”. The attached financial agreement was accepted as settlement of all the claims of the Holy See against Italy arising from the loss of temporal power of the Papal States in 1870.

The sum thereby given to the Holy See was actually less than Italy declared it would pay under the terms of the Law of Guarantees of 1871, by which the Italian government guaranteed to Pope Pius IX and his successors the use of, but not sovereignty over, the Vatican and Lateran Palaces and a yearly income of 3,250,000 lire as indemnity for the loss of sovereignty and territory. The Holy See, on the grounds of the need for clearly manifested independence from any political power in its exercise of spiritual jurisdiction, had refused to accept the settlement offered in 1871, and the Popes thereafter until the signing of the Lateran Treaty considered themselves prisoners in the Vatican, a small, limited area inside Rome.

To commemorate the successful conclusion of the negotiations, Mussolini commissioned the Via della Conciliazione, which would symbolically link the Vatican City to the heart of Rome.

After 1946
The Constitution of the Italian Republic, adopted in 1947, states that relations between the State and the Catholic Church “are regulated by the Lateran Treaties”.

In 1984, an agreement was signed, revising the concordat. Among other things, both sides declared: “The principle of the Catholic religion as the sole religion of the Italian State, originally referred to by the Lateran Pacts, shall be considered to be no longer in force”. The Church’s position as the sole state-supported religion of Italy was also ended, replacing the state financing with a personal income tax called the otto per mille, to which other religious groups, Christian and non-Christian, also have access. As of 2013, there are ten other religious groups with access. The revised concordat regulated the conditions under which civil effects are accorded by Italy to church marriages and to ecclesiastical declarations of nullity of marriages. Abolished articles included those concerning state recognition of knighthoods and titles of nobility conferred by the Holy See, the undertaking by the Holy See to confer ecclesiastical honours on those authorized to perform religious functions at the request of the State or the Royal Household, and the obligation of the Holy See to enable the Italian government to present political objections to the proposed appointment of diocesan bishops.

In 2008, it was announced that the Vatican would no longer immediately adopt all Italian laws, citing conflict over right-to-life issues following the trial and ruling of the Eluana Englaro case.

Italy’s anti-Jewish laws of 1938 prohibited marriages between Jews and non-Jews, including Catholics. The Vatican viewed this as a violation of the Concordat, which gave the church the sole right to regulate marriages involving Catholics. Article 34 of the Concordat had also specified that marriages performed by the Catholic Church would always be considered valid by civil authorities. The Holy See understood this to apply to all Catholic Church marriages in Italy regardless of the faith of those being married.

10 February 1940

Tom and Jerry make their debut with Puss Gets the Boot.

Tom and Jerry, two of the most successful cartoon characters in film and TV history, made their debut in cinemas on this day in 1940.

The cat and mouse who fight a seemingly never-ending battle for supremacy were featured in the animated short Puss Gets the Boot, made for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoons by legendary animators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera.

In the nine-minute short, Tom, a blue-grey long-haired cat, is happily toying with small brown mouse Jerry, when he is threatened with being thrown out of his owner’s house if he causes any more breakages.

Jerry then causes as much mayhem as he can to land Tom in trouble – a storyline that would provide a template for most of the duo’s adventures – and is left to celebrate when Tom is inevitably turfed out by his owner.

The cartoon was nominated for an Academy Award that year, but lost out to another MGM short. Hanna and Barbera felt they had a winning formula, which they returned to – but only after animator John Carr suggested renaming the main characters Tom and Jerry.

hey were rewarded when Yankee Doodle Mouse finally won them an Oscar for best cartoon in 1943 – the first of seven wins for their feisty cat and mouse duo.

Hanna and Barbera would write and direct a total of 114 short Tom and Jerry cartoons before MGM closed their animation department in 1957 – but the pugnacious puss and his artful mouse adversary remained popular, and would return in adventures made by other studios for many years to come.

9 February 1900

The Davis Cup tennis competition is established.

On February 9, 1900, the solid silver trophy known today as the Davis Cup is first put up for competition when American collegian Dwight Filley Davis challenges British tennis players to come across the Atlantic and compete against his Harvard team.

Davis, born in St. Louis, Missouri, won the intercollegiate tennis singles championship in 1899. In the summer of that year, he and his Harvard teammates traveled to the West Coast to play against some of California’s best players. Impressed by the enthusiasm with which spectators greeted the national competition, Davis decided to propose an international tennis event. He won the support of the U.S. National Lawn Tennis Association and personally spent $750 on the construction of an elegant silver trophy bowl, 13 inches high and 18 inches in diameter. In February 1900, Davis put the International Lawn Tennis Challenge Trophy up for competition.

Great Britain, regarded as the world’s leading tennis power, answered Davis’ challenge, and on August 8, 1900, three top British players came to the Longwood Cricket Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, to compete against Davis and his all-Harvard team.

Davis had devised a three-day format for the event that still exists today: two singles matches on the first and third days, and a doubles match on the second day. He was captain of the U.S. team and on August 8 received serve on the very first Davis Cup point, which he hit out. He ended up triumphing in the singles match, however, and the next day with Holcombe Ward defeated the British doubles team. Rain forced the cancellation of two of the singles matches, and the first Davis Cup ended with a 3-0 Harvard sweep.

Davis was famous for his powerful left-handed serve and concentrated on a risky net play strategy that won him brilliant victories and unexpected defeats. With Ward, he won the U.S. doubles title in 1900 and 1901, and he was ranked fourth nationally in 1902. That year, the British returned for a Davis Cup rematch in New York, and the star American doubles team succumbed to the ascendant Doherty brothers–Laurie and Reggie. The United States pulled ahead in singles, however, and kept the International Lawn Tennis Challenge Trophy with a 3-2 overall victory.

The next year, the Doherty brothers helped take the trophy back to England for the first time. In 1904, Belgium and France entered the Davis Cup competition, and soon after, Australia and New Zealand, whose players played collectively as Australasia. The trophy did not return to the U.S. until 1913 and then stayed only for a year before departing for Australasia.

After receiving a law degree, Dwight Davis returned to St. Louis and became involved in local politics. Beginning in 1911, he served as public parks commissioner and built the first municipal tennis courts in the United States. He fought in World War I and earned the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery. In 1920, he made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate but the next year traveled to Washington nonetheless as director of the War Finance Corporation. Beginning in 1923, he served as assistant secretary of war under President Calvin Coolidge and in 1925 was made secretary of war proper. In 1929, President Herbert Hoover appointed him governor-general of the Philippines, and he served in this post–which essentially made him the ruler of the Philippines–for the next four years.

Throughout his distinguished career as a statesman, Davis remained involved in tennis as both an avid recreational player and an administrator. In 1923, he served as president of the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association. When the International Lawn Tennis Challenge Trophy ran out of room for names, he donated a large silver tray to go with the bowl.

Today, the Davis Cup, as the International Lawn Tennis Challenge Trophy is commonly known, is the premier trophy of international team tennis. Each year, dozens of nations compete for the right to advance to the finals. Shortly before his death in 1945, David said of the growing prestige of the Davis Cup, “If I had known of its coming significance, it would have been cast in gold.”

8 February 1971

The NASDAQ stock market index opens.

The New York Stock Exchange has been around for a long time – it was officially formed in 1792, and is home to many of the world’s biggest and most successful companies. For a long time, it was the Big Daddy of American – indeed, world – stock exchanges. But at the beginning of the 1970s, it found itself with an upstart competitor.

America’s National Association of Securities Dealers was a body set up to regulate the OTC market ‘over the counter’ securities which were not traded on traditional stock exchanges.

To enable investors to trade more efficiently, it set up its own speedy and transparent trading system – the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations, or Nasdaq. It began trading on this day in 1971, providing trading for over 2,500 securities. It was a very different beast to the venerable old stock exchanges of yore. It didn’t have a big building full of men in silly coats shouting at each other. This was the future – this was an electronic exchange.

It expanded rapidly, and soon gained a reputation where tech stocks would list. And while it is very tech heavy, it counts car hire firms, airlines, banks and food companies among its listings.

It trades around two billion shares a day – more than any other exchange. Since the millennium it has overseen over a thousand stockmarket flotations. It is the second-largest exchange in the world by market capitalisation. With companies including Apple and Google – each with a market cap of some $500bn – and Microsoft, with a market cap of over $400bn, that’s hardly surprising.

Its flagship index, the Nasdaq Composite, began life at 100 in 1971, shot up to over 5,000 before the spectacular dotcom crash of 2000, when it lost some 78% of its value. It peaked again in the summer of 2015. It is currently some 15% below its peak.

6 February 1947

Pan American Airlines becomes the first commercial airline to offer a round-the-world ticket.

The intercontinental airline service made its debut in 1927. The flight, by Imperial Airways, was from London to Cairo.

In 1930 Charles Townsend Ludington, his brother and two other executives formed Ludington Airline, the first every-hour-on-the-hour air service. It was also the first airline that carried passengers only and was not supported by government revenue from air mail service contracts that all other airlines depended on.

Air India, the flag carrier airline of India, began operations under the name Tata Airlines on October 15, 1932.

Pan American Clipper flights served the first hot meals to passengers in 1935.

The first commercial flight across the Pacific was made by a Pan-American Boeing 314 on April 28, 1937.

The first commercial around-the-world airline flight took place in 1942. Pan American World Airways was the company credited with the historic feat.
Seven years later, on January 6, 1947, Pan American Airlines became the first commercial airline to offer a round-the-world ticket.

5 February 1971

Astronauts land on the moon in the Apollo 14 mission.

HOUSTON, Friday, Feb. 5 1971 —Two astronauts of Apollo 14—the fifth and sixth human beings ever—landed on the moon early this morning.

Capt. Alan B. Shepard Jr. and Comdr. Edgar D. Mitchell of the Navy steered the four?legged landing craft named Antares to a smooth touchdown at 4:18 A.M., Eastern standard time, on the moon’s highlands.

Their landing, the third made by American astronauts, came after a four?day, 250,000?mile voyage across the void of space. It came a year and a half after man’s first landing, Apollo 11’s pioneering visit to the Sea of Tranquility.

The four other men on the moon were Neil A. Armstrong, the first to set foot on the lunar surface — on July 20, 1969 — and Col. Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. of the Air Force, from Apollo II, and Comdr. Charles Conrad Jr. and Comdr. Alan L. Bean of the Navy, from Apollo 12.

In a Level Valley

The Apollo 14 astronauts brought their 16?ton landing craft down on a fairly level valley in the Fra Mauro highlands, a cratered and rockstrewn area where the astronauts should be able to find rocks as old as the solar system itself. They plan a 33½hour visit.

Continue reading the main story
While Maj. Stuart A. Roosa of the Air Force was scheduled to pilot the command module Kitty Hawk in a watchful orbit overhead, Captain Shepard and Commander Mitchell would take two long excursions outside their landing craft to set up a nuclear?powered scientific station and get rock samples.

The descent engine on the lunar module fired at 4:05 A.M., at which time Captain Shepard declared:

“It’s a beautiful day in the land of Fra Mauro.”

And just before Antares touched down on the moon, Commander Mitchell exclaimed:

“There it is. Right on target. Beautiful. Right out the window. Just like you said it would be.”

Comments From Moon

When the craft set down—two minutes behind schedule—the first words were those of Captain Shepherd, who said:

“We’re on the surface. We made a good landing.”

After Mission Control acknowledged the success, tho astronaut added:

“That was a beautiful one. We landed on the slope. But other than that, we’re in great shape—right on the landing site.”

The first of their moon walks, which would last up to five hours each, was to begin around 9 AM. today. Captain Shepard would take the first steps down the ladder, followed a few minutes later by Commander Mitchell.

All their activities should be seen on earth through a color television transmission from Antares. The second moon walk, scheduled for early tomorrow morning, also was scheduled to be televised.

Captain Shepard and Commander Mitchell were cleared shortly before midnight to begin the landing maneuver. Mission Control issued the goahead for “undocking.”

At 11:51 P.M., on Apollo 14’s 12th revolution of the moon, Antares and Kitty Hawk separated. The docking mechanism that had given the astronauts trouble early in the flight unlatched without flaw.

“You’re moving out,” Major Roosa radioed from Kitty Hawk. After a pause, Major Roosa said:

“Okay, we seem real steady. I’m going to back off from you.”

Major Roosa then fired maneuvering rockets on the command ship and moved back to a safe distance, flying higher than Antares.

Later at 1:10 A.M., Kitty Hawk’s main rocket fired a short burst to gather speed and move into a more circular orbit, about 70 miles above the moon. At that altitude, Kitty Hawk was in a favorable position to link up with Antares after its return from the moon.

As Kitty Hawk moved away, Antares followed an orbit ranging from about 69 miles on the far side of the moon to about 10 miles as it passed over the landing path.

For the final descent, following a long, curving trajectory from 10 miles to touchdown, Captain Shepard and Commander Mitchell needed an 11?minute firing of the rocket in the lunar module’s lower stage. The descent was carefully plotted by radar, computer and the experienced eyes of the astronauts.

A problem with mysterious abort signals in the guidance computer on Antares caused concern as Captain Shepard and Commander Mitchell prepared for the landing. Strange signals monitored on the ground indicated that an “abort command” was showing up in the computer, perhaps because of contamination in the abort switch.

New Instructions

If this had happened during a lunar?module rocket firing, it would have caused an unintentional abort of the lunar landing.

Consequently, mission control gave the astronauts a new set of instructions to be fed into the computer immediately after the descent rocket firing was begun. The new procedure would, in effect, tell the computer to ignore such an unintentional abort signal.

The astronauts got about six hours of sleep during a 10?hour rest period before their long and critical night began.

In making Apollo 14’s first status report of the day to Mission Control, Major Roosa said:

“We went to bed all healthy and we’re getting up the same way.”

At about 9 o’clock last night, Captain Shepard and Commander Mitchell donned their heavy space suits, opened the hatch and crawled through the connecting tunnel into the attached lunar module.

One of their chief concerns during the inspection tour, was the condition of one of the two storage batteries in the lunar module’s ascent stage. When it was tested two days ago, it was found to have lost about three?tenths of a volt from its level at liftoff.

Had it further degraded, indicating problems in more than one cell, flight controllers would have had to call off the landing attempt.

But when the batteries were powered up, the astronauts reported their condition “exactly as it was last night.” The landing, in short, was still “go.”

Apollo 14 reached lunar orbit early yesterday morning and by 9 P.M. had looped the moon 11 times, traveling at a speed of about 3,500 miles an hour.

Target for Landing

Each time Apollo 14—the combined command ship and lunar module—swung around the face of the moon and swooped down to within 10 miles of the surface, the astronauts could see the rugged features of Fra Mauro.

It was early dawn at the time there, giving the astronauts the ideal lighting conditions for their landing. Their arrival was timed so that the astronauts would have the sun low on the horizon and behind their backs as they made the tricky descent to the moon.

The hills of Fra Mauro rise along the eastern rim of the Ocean of Storms, just south of the lunar equator. The landing area is about 110 miles east of where Apollo 12 touched down in November, 1969.

The precise landing target was set in a narrow valley between two clusters of craters that the astronauts nicknamed Triplet and. Doublet.

Some of the nearby hills and ridges rise as much as 8,000 feet high, seemingly even greater than a similar elevation on earth because the moon is roughly one?fourth the size earth.

Scientists believe that on this rugged terrain is material dating back 4.6 billion years to the creation of the moon. Analysis of the samples could determine much about the processes of the moon’s origin.

The goal for the first walk was to deploy instruments to record moonquakes, to measure electrically charged particles on the lunar surface and to collect imprints of solar particle bombardment.

The nuclear?powered scientific station was designed to operate more than a year. The Apollo 12 seismometer is still returning data.

On the second walk—EVA for extravehicular activity—the objective was hiking to a feature known as Cone Crater. The crater is situated at the top of a gentle hill that arise: about 330 feet above the relatively level landing site.

Cone Crater Objective

Rocks around the lip of the crater are thought to have been tossed there from the impact that formed the crater. They would thus come from much deeper inside the moon than any samples previously returned by astronauts.

Getting into position for the landing attempt took a two?step maneuver.

First, the Apollo 14 astronauts fired the spaceship’s main rocket to swing into a wide looping orbit of the moon. After two revolutions, they refired the same rocket, which is at the stern of the spaceship, to lower the orbit.

Both rocket firings cut off fraction of a second early, but that did not significantly throw the spaceship off its intendedi orbit.

In the lower orbit, Apollo I dipped as low as 12 miles fro the surface over the front ski: and then swung out to about 67 miles high while over the far side of the moon.

On previous missions, the lower orbit was achieved by the lunar module’s descent rocket after the two ships had separated. The change on this mission’ saved enough lunar module fuel to allow the astronauts an additional 15 seconds to hover at the last moment before touchdown.

While orbiting the moon, awaiting the landing attempt, he astronauts described the desolate world they saw below.

“It looks like a plaster mold that somebody has dusted vii grays and browns.” Commander Mitchell radioed.

“It has all the grays, browns, whites and dark craters ever body’s talked about before.” Captain Shepard added. “lt’s really quite a sight.”

4 February 1859

The Codex Sinaiticus is first discovered in Egypt.

On 4 February 1859, the Codex Sinaiticus was discovered in Egypt, in the Monastery of Saint Catherine, by the Leipzig archaeologist Constantin von Tischendorf. The Codex Sinaiticus is an ancient handwritten copy of the Greek Bible, and alongside the Codex Vaticanus, it is the finest Greek text of the New Testament. Also including much of the Old Testament, it is an inestimably important document in the history of Christianity. The Codex was written sometime in the 4th century between 325 and 360 AD, and is an Alexandrian text-type manuscript. The exact circumstances in which it ended up in an Egyptian monastery are still unknown; some think it may actually have been written in Egypt, while others say it was more likely written in Rome.

Constantin von Tischendorf paid his first visit to the Monastery of Saint Catherine in 1844, and discovered some parchments from an important ancient document, the Septuagint, casually discarded in a wastepaper basket. The German archaeologist was allowed to bring them back to his homeland, and deposited them in the Leipzig University Library. He returned for a second time in 1853, and then a third time in 1859—on this occasion under the patronage of the Russian Tsar Alexander II, who was extremely eager to recover any other lost manuscripts from the distant Sinai monastery. Indeed, von Tischendorf went on to discover one of the most important religious documents in existence, on 4 February.

The reason that the Codex Sinaiticus is so important is because it contains the earliest complete copy of the Christian New Testament, hand-written in the old Greek vernacular language of koine. In addition, the Codex also includes the Septuagint, an early translation of the Hebrew Bible that was adopted as the Old Testament by early Greek-speaking Christians. No other early version of the Bible has been so extensively annotated and corrected, and these corrections range from changes made by the original scribes in the 4th century to those made by monks in the 12th century. Thus it provides an invaluable insight into the history of book-making, the history of the Bible, and the reconstruction of the Bible’s original text.

Constantin von Tischendorf certainly provided immense assistance to generations of Christian scholars by bringing the Codex Sinaiticus from the Monastery of Saint Catherine to the Leipzig University Library. However, there is still a great, and unresolved, controversy over exactly how he extracted the Codex from the monks. And, to this day, the monastery still maintains that it was essentially stolen from them by a duplicitous German academic.