The oldest and most precious manuscript in the Parker Library is MS 286, a sixth-century Italian gospel manuscript traditionally believed to have been brought to England as part of the mission of St Augustine of Canterbury who arrived in 597 AD. Bede reports that Pope Gregory the Great sent books to Augustine along with other items necessary for liturgy and worship (HE, Book 1, ch. 29) and this might be one of them.
As a symbol of the earliest connection between Rome and Canterbury and given its significance for both Catholics and Anglicans, it was natural that the Gospels of St Augustine should play a role in the papal visit to Britain. The Librarian took the manuscript to Westminster Abbey where it was carried in procession and venerated by the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was brought safely back to the library straight after the service.