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Liesborn Prayer Wheel explored, possible answers found

Liesborn Prayer Wheel explored, possible answers found

A rare gospel, likely commissioned by an abbess in Liesborn, Germany over 1,000 years ago, was found to contain an enigmatic prayer wheel inside.

The Daily Mail and other news outlets wrote about the history of the gospel and presented various views on the significance and utility of the prayer wheel design in early May.

From the Daily Mail:

The wheel’s outermost circle contains instructions that when translated, read: ‘The order of the diagram written here teaches the return home’.

The next reads ‘seven petitions’ and features seven quotations from the Lord’s Prayer along its spokes.

The third circle from the outside reads ‘Gifts of the Holy Spirit’ and includes the words ‘wisdom’ and ‘counsel,’ written in a mixture of black and red ink.

It also includes seven events in the life of Jesus, which are written in black.

The innermost ring lists the seven groups of people blessed in Jesus’ Beatitudes.

And the centre contains the word Deus, or God.

The wheel was originally written in medieval Latin.

It appears as if a user would have worked their way to the centre either reading the rings in turn, or working along the prayer wheel’s spokes.

But how it is meant to be used and its intention is a mystery.

Some experts believe it was a mnemonic device to memorize prayers. Religion News Service asked their readers how they thought the prayer wheel worked, presenting it as a mystery.

From RNS:

The directions, if a little stilted, look familiar: “The Order Of The Diagram Written Here Teaches The Return Home.”

Think Parcheesi or Sorry.

But then think again. The board is not cardboard or plastic; it’s 1,035-year-old vellum. And there are no dice — just prayers.

Care to play?

RNS received many responses, and has published their favorites, in an article suggesting that it may be less of a puzzle and more of a guide to the basic tenets of a Christian life.

What do you think? Do you agree with the RNS readers, or do you have your own interpretation?


Posted by David Streever


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Philip B. Spivey

I wonder if this is an early form of “praying the rosary”?

William Brady

Could it be more of a meditative prayer aid, focusing on all the prayers, scripture and events noted? Seems likely.

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