The Roman Catholic Bible is the Holy Word of God.
Pretty simple. What's so wonderful?
With prayers, respect, and study I offer these long studied notes especially keeping in mind the many visitors who will read them.
Words have meaning. If one changes the words, the meaning is very likely to be changed, especially if there are many words changed.
God is the author of the Bible.
Pope Leo XIII wrote in his encyclical, Providentissimus Deus, 1899:
"For, by supernatural power, He so moved and impelled them to write-He was so present to them-that the things which He ordered, and those only, they, first, rightly understood, then willed faithfully to write down, and finally expressed in apt words and with infallible truth. Otherwise, it could not be said that He was the Author of the entire Scripture."
The Bible is the written Word of God. It is also called the Holy Scriptures.
The better question might be.... Which is the Bible we should read?
You might be surprised that there is only one Bible that is approved by the Catholic Church. There are many versions, but the version that is strictly approved by the Church is the Latin Vulgate Bible of St. Jerome.
The Douay-Rheims Bible is the closest English translation to the Vulgate and has a several hundred year history with no revisions or paraphrases needed.
Because of this long time recommendation, it is the only "version" offered on this website and other good Catholic booksellers.
First, it would be a nightmare and require computer tracking or an Excel spreadsheet to be able to make a complete comparison between the many publishers in the many locations of different editions of the Bible.
Good luck navigating this rabbit hole.
Basically, the best you can tell without reading every edition with a proof reader in tandem is that there's no way to vouch outside of trusting the main publishers of the DR reprints.
Because it is a matter of faith and trust, my hope is that these companies who have striven to produce this wonderful book have faithfully produced "the" Douay-Rheims according to the best "version/edition" they could find amongst the early editions from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The Real Douay-Rheims website states that there was controversy even in the 1700 and 1800s over Bishop Challoner's revisions (1749-1752). See more in section 3.I. below.
The Catholic Bible that is called a Douay Rheims now has been accepted since that time, and Fr. Haydock (see below) studied to add Bible commentary from the Church Fathers. It is more widely available today.
The original Douay-Rheims Bible was originally published in two parts during the 1582 and 1609. The New Testament was formed in the French city of Rheims, and later the Old Testament was finished in Douay, France.
The "English" version of the Bible was translated in France because a Catholic English Bible in the vernacular was outlawed during the Anglican persecution of Catholics. Priests, nuns, and laity were martyred and the books were burned.
The Challoner Bible has a long history running back to 1749-1752.
Later, it was "revised and diligently compared with the Latin Vulgate, published with the approbation of His Eminence James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore", 1899 in the United States of America.
The TAN reprint that I have owned since 1985 was republished by TAN Books and Publishers, Inc., Rockford, Illinois in 1971.
The Haydock Bible (1812-1859) was later published by Thomas Haydock whose brother, Rev. Fr. Leo Haydock also wrote wonderful commentary under the text according to the constant teaching of the Church Fathers. It is very well referenced, so it makes a very good study Bible.
Some pages are half Bible verses and half Bible Commentary. It also was published in penal times.
By God's grace I own an actual, factual, rusty, dusty 1881 Haydock complete with Old and New Testaments. Why do I say rusty? It has metal clasps to keep the book closed (it does fluff up if it is not kept clasped - but this is then hard on the binding). It was published by M. J. Moore & Bro., Mahanoy City, PA. It has a Library of Congress date of 1881. It is huge. It is beautiful.
Mother of Our Savior Traditional Catholic Publishing has newly republished what looks like the very same book. I have seen it brand new, as I recently gave it as a wedding gift. It was cello-wrapped, so I did not open it. Oh, how I wanted to see inside. At Amazon you can buy their Refuge of Sinners edition of the Haydock Bible in three covers: burgundy, brown, and black. You can see some images here:
I own a purple Victory Publications Haydock New Testament reprint which shows that the Rheims was first published in Rheims in 1582. On the title page it says with "the text carefully collated with that of the original editions and the annotations abridged by the Very Rev. F. C. Husenbeth, D.D., V.G."
What's marvelous about the original Douay-Rheims Bible and the Haydock is that both were published in penal times, making each of the books a bit of a martyr's profession of faith.
You can see the Haydock version online here.
Where it is tricky is when the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) started "updating" the language.
The CCD in the 1940s still called their first editions Douay-Rheims Bibles while having changed the wording to the most important books of the Bible: the first five or so books of the Old Testament and the whole New Testament were already changed before the New American Bible (NAB) was published in 1970.
They never did finish the CCD as it was morphed into the New American Bible which was used in the Novus Ordo Missals. See post Vatican II books in section 3.J. below.
Several other companies have my trust even though their prototype editions are different:
I think that the prototype editions used in these reprints were from different publishing houses in England and around the United States with the purpose of offering the Catholic Bible instead of a Protestant Bible, so my hope is that there is not likely to be much variation.
The main variation I have seen is the size, colors, or bindings. All of the above have a family record, timeline, and maps.
Mr. Thomas Aquinas Nelson (TAN) is the reason this Bible is in publication today.
TAN Books had been the first recent publisher to revive the Douay-Rheims Bible. Thomas Aquinas Nelson (founder of TAN Books, God bless him) first published his in the 1970s and 1980s using his own money to begin publishing. Since then he has published many "editions" - mostly due to many sales and so as to offer different covers.
I hope that there are no differences in these "editions", meaning that I hope that they are merely reprints. Both TAN editions that I own, of the New Testament and of the whole Bible (both Old and New) were taken from the Challoner edition approved by Cardinal Gibbons.
Every time I have compared a Catholic Missal (Lasance, New Marian, Saint Andrew, and reprints) to the Bible, it was this TAN's 1971/1980s Bible that I had used.
He has since sold his publishing company, yet it still has a well respected collection of good Catholic books, a Catholic liturgical calendar and Catholic homeschool books - especially old books by saints.
TAN was purchased in the last ten years by St. Benedict Press whose parent company is a Protestant company, so I hope that all their specifically DR editions (hardback, paperback, and New Testament) are honest reprints, faithful to the original that Mr. Nelson first printed.
I find it so sad that the new TAN has begun publishing paraphrased Bibles, other versions. The Douay Bible was their star product for years.
On this page you will also find:
This downloadable Bible is a treasure!
We've used this audio Bible download to listen to the Douay and to help our high school children learn in Bible study class. If you read the Bible yourself, you'll find that it can be so much easier for you and your children to stay focused with an audio version.
Also, it is a giant help for those high school students who are still timid with longer words and foreign such as Jerusalem and Capharnaum. The audio helps with tricky personal and geographic names that can be hard to pronounce. Why miss reading the Bible for fear of long foreign words?
If you choose the MP4 audio visual version your children can say that they have read the New Testament or the whole Bible whether they are good readers or not if they read along in the book while they listen to the recording.
You all will enjoy this excellent Douay-Rheims Bible recording because Steve Web does an excellent job of reading it and has a beautiful voice. Perfect for quiet and thoughtful study.
See and hear a sample or buy the downloadable Douay Rheims Audio Bible here.
The best Bible in English is the Douay-Rheims Bible. It has been used and approved by the Catholic Church for hundreds of years.
If you're wanting God's Word in English, this is the version all accept as His work.
There is not much difference between the Douay-Rheims versions in the last hundred fifty years.
The Douay-Rheims & Clementina Vulgata (has the Latin Vulgate which is the Latin parallel to the English), the Haydock Bible, and the plain Douay-Rheims Bible are near equivalent "versions". The main differences are their presentations:
The most beautiful versions I have found are the
The Lepanto Douay Rheims Bible is a joy to hold and to read, being a bit smaller than the TAN reprint of 1979, possibly due to the somewhat smaller font. It is a 1914 John Murphy Company reprint that uses regular off white paper and retains the pictures.
I was able to go through it when I was at Our Lady of Victory School's store and, even though I really like the TAN version and appreciate it keeping the Douay available to me and mine for so long, this will be the version I buy for gifts in the future. You can see photos of it in a review and buy it at Amazon here.
I have never understood why there are different "versions" of the Bible. A Catholic Bible is the Word of God.
How can there be different versions?
The Douay-Rheims Bible has a wonderful history. It arose from the need to have a Bible that the English Catholics could read instead of what was being paraphrased as a Bible at the time.
Also. Why does an English Bible have a French name?
Well, the clergy who put it together sure couldn't have done it in Protestant England in the 16th and 17th centuries. Catholics were prohibited from printing religious material in England during those days.
Enter: the French colleges who were training the men from England who had vocations to the priesthood. Part of the Bible was translated in Douay and the other part in Rheims, France.
When describing the Bible it is good to know the definition of the word.
This quote is from the author of TAN Books' website CathTruth.com 2009:
[The word "Bible" means "the book." In both the Latin and Greek languages the term "Biblia" is a plural noun and signifies "The Books." Originally, the Bible was not one book but a collection of books - in fact, a whole library. It was only in about the fourth century that the seventy two books of the Bible were combined to form the "volume." Eventually, the plural "Biblia" became a singular noun, and in modern languages signifies "the book."
The passing of the word "Biblia" from the plural into the singular was no doubt occasioned by an understanding of the real character of the Bible: While the human authors were many, the Divine Author is but one. The Bible is called "The Scriptures" (2 Peter 3:16) and "Holy Scriptures" (Romans 1:2).]
Mr. Thomas Aquinas Nelson wrote a pamphlet explaining which Catholic Bible we should choose to read and explained many of the differences between different Bibles. He emphasized a basic point: we cannot change the Word of God. Any rewrite is a paraphrase at best. God bless his good soul. He did this at a time when few were republishing old works.
We were sorry to learn that at one point TAN Books would no longer carry Which Bible Should You Read? by Nelson, Thomas A. published by TAN Books & Publishers Paperback. Perhaps you can still find it at Amazon. Hopefully.
This next little treasure of a book, Where We Got The Bible by by Rt. Rev. Henry Graham, is an informative and hilarious read with witty remarks like,
This book tells where we got the Bible and how the "books" came together after decades of there being no Bible for the "early" Christians.
It is full of common sense facts and well documented sources.
Of course, at the time it was written (1911) and revised (1929, 1937) there was no question that the Catholic Bible was the Douay-Rheims "version".
You can also learn the full list of books in the Bible in the booklet at Amazon Where We Got The Bible by Rt. Rev. Henry Graham at TAN Books.
As far as I can see, when you're searching for a Roman Catholic Bible, you should get the Douay-Rheims Bible. It is the Catholic Bible with the longest history and the most recommendations.
After having gone through Catholic high school and college, I had read various Bible "versions" that were different from each other.
What? Isn't the Bible "the Bible"?
In some of my own education I'd been through Good News For Modern Man type schools that left me wondering what a paraphrase was if these weren't paraphrases.
I had tried to read the Jerusalem Bible, too, but by page 400 and reading many times that there is "a" God, it seemed that this must be a paraphrase, too. The indefinite article "a" did not express the truth that there is only one true God. The God. The one and only God. Grammatically and philosophically, the Douay conveys the truth much better.
Through years of using a Douay based Catholic Missal and listening to the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine version (CCD) when it was read from the pulpit, I think that theologically the Douay is the best.
Beyond the notes above? Choose the one that preserves Catholic doctrine.
How do you know which is the most Catholic Bible? The first and easiest quote to check is Genesis 3:15. The Douay-Rheims Bible says "she shall crush thy head". Protestant versions and others say "he shall".
A reason that paraphrased versions do not use "she shall" is that their authors chose not to tell the truth of Our Lady being the Mediatrix of All Graces, as her part in the Redemption is the greatest stumbling block to protestants and modernists.
St. Alphonsus Liguori mentioned this important distinction in his book, The Glories of Mary. He insisted on "she shall". This is also a helpful indicator in other books like a catechism.
Other clues to discern a good Roman Catholic Bible are:
There is an interesting book called The Catechism of the Bible which describes in Lesson 16 the differences between the Roman Catholic Bible and Protestant versions.
It states that "The most notable difference is the absence of seven whole books and parts of two others from the Protestant versions."
"Many Protestant versions other than the King James omit the Epistle of St. James." (Faith without works is dead)." It is interesting that KJV has the Book of St. James, yet more recent versions do not.
Another important quote seems to apply to Catholic "versions" as early as the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in the 1930s and 40s. It uses Anglicized words like "worship" rather than "adore" which concurs with the Latin that is read from the altar (and many others - testament/covenant, multitude/crowd, etc.). You can see the root word for adore in the Latin even if you have not studied Latin.
As with Protestant versions: "The King James version has a preference for words of Anglo-Saxon origin whereas the Douay version freely uses words of Latin origin...."
Catholic books of the Bible: "They are called the Deutero-Canonical Books": "Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, 1 Machabees, and 2 Machabees."
The Protestant versions do not have these Old Testament books and thereby have removed many Catholic beliefs. Praying for the dead (Catholic doctrine on Purgatory) and nursing older children are in First and Second Machabees which are not in their Bibles.
Nursing your children and wondering how old? 2 Machabees 7:27 tells about the mother who was a saint and martyr after she watched each of her seven sons martyred. She fed her youngest son three years. Just a fact. St. Penelope had a similar story.
In short the words are changed therefore the meaning is changed.
The principle of non-contradiction is in force with many differing terms as can be seen between "she shall" and "he shall". If it is supposed to be "she", it would be contradictory to use "he".
Other universal principles apply, too, like "No Catholic doctrine is ever outmoded!"
Remember these thoughts when you find a discrepancy between "versions", then use another Catholic principle, "Always chose the better thing."
Or take a short cut and start with the Douay in the first place. :-)
If you have a Douay-Rheims Bible that has been faithfully reproduced (Lepanto, TAN, Mother of Our Savior, and Baronius), you can search and compare the verses to a Catholic online Bible.
This means you can compare before you copy and paste notes, so you are sure of the version and do not have to scan or re-type long quotes into your own works.
This Catholic Bible Online has the most beautiful words and makes research easy with its search functions and the excellent Bible commentary and cross-reference from the Haydock Douay-Rheims.
What about Dr. William von Peters' Real Douay Rheims Bible? I think it is wonderful that he has preserved and published a copy of the oldest actual Douay that he could find.
It is also excellent that he has made it available as downloads, CDs, and even a print copy.
I have every confidence that this treasure is as he promotes on his website.
You will love the comparison charts where he shows omissions in the Challoner and Haydock "versions.
He quotes John Cardinal Newman, Cardinal Wiseman, and Cardinal Gibbons against Bishop Challoner, Archbishop Troy, and Fr. Haydock.
Personally, I would take the second set over the first set, yet there certainly were omissions according to his meticulous charts.
Bp. Challoner has been named Servant of God.
Here's a good book to read about John Cardinal Newman.
It would be awesome if Dr. vonPeters could have his Real Douay Rheims Bible typed up, yet then we'd have the trouble of checking yet another publisher and yet another edition.
You can see the controversies for yourself and buy a copy of the original at:
Without considering revisions and re-revisions, different publishers, and newer versus older versions here are some of the "other Catholic Bibles", especially those published after Vatican II:
There is a page at Catholic Bible .online that shows the three texts of the Vulgate, the Douay, and the Knox which makes it very easy to see the Knox in comparison to the Vulgate and the Douay.
Especially if they have these comparisons for every version it would be very handy for Bible study lessons.
(N. B. Do remember to compare online texts to an actual book in case the online version is different either by purposeful change or by OCR corruption.)
The original daily prayer book is the Roman Catholic Missal. It has daily Bible quotes all arranged to coordinate with the liturgical calendar which reflects the life of Jesus.
If you're using the Roman Missal of 1962, you'll have the correct Catholic feast days for the 1962 liturgical calendar. If you follow it every day through the year, you'll have read most of the Catholic Bible.
The Catholic Douay-Rheims Bible has been the standard for English Sunday Missals or Catholic Daily Missals ever since hand Missals have become available in the twentieth century.
For thirty years I've had a habit of looking at certain places in Missals to see if they concur with the Douay:
Check here for some differences between Catholic Missals.
The Catechism of the Bible, (By Rev. John O'Brien, M.A. New York 1924) is a Bible catechism that Catholics who choose the Douay will appreciate dearly.
It teaches many reasons why the Douay is the Roman Catholic Bible.
One special one is that the translation should use
Before I had read this booklet, I did not even know that this was an issue; yet when I read my Latin/English Missal I see the differences quite easily - especially when another version is read from the pulpit. See more notes about this above.
I should add a distinction about the Anglicization of the words.
What Anglicization meant was not English v. American, but Latin versus Anglosaxon (English).
This Anglicization is not related to updating thees and thous or English versus American. In my opinion (as a mere housewife and mother), it is related to keeping the original intent of the inspired writer.
The way I understood it was that the Romans had a more military and law based vocabulary while the Anglos had an agrarian or farm and home based vocabulary. This infers that Church law and doctrine is better served by using the Latin root vocabulary.
For example, the Latin used words with the root multitud-. Why change or reduce the meaning of multitude to crowd, especially when it had been published in English for centuries as multitude?
Testamentum is better translated as testament than covenant. Reducing testament legally infers the death of the testator whereas covenant infers a promise.
Today's unisex wording in modern books is not a good translation from the Latin as the Latin indicates the gender.
Ready for the king of Douay-Rheims Bibles?
The Haydock Catholic Bible Online has explanatory notes. Since it is digital, it is so handy for use in copying long Bible quotes.
Note Bene: Remember that most anything online is editable so one must beware the online editions, especially since OCR is not always very accurate if the information was scanned. To verify that what you see on the screen is a Catholic Bible compare to your Bible book. Use these only as a tool and be forewarned that in "searching" for a Catholic online Bible we came across sites with very indecent advertising!
The Haydock Bible book is available at Amazon.
As for the Haydock version: Did you know that Blessed George Haydock was related to the Fr. George Haydock who compiled the The Haydock Douay-Rheims Bible?
Fr. Haydock's brother, Thomas, had run the publishing house in England that published it. All three lived under persecution.
What's special with the Haydock Bible is that it has explanations, cross references between the Old and the New Testaments, and commentary of the saints and doctors of the Church. Catholics needed these notes to be able to defend against the Protestant errors of the day.
Remember that the Douay-Rheims Bible was translated at a time when every word mattered to the point of martyrdom. The Anglicans in England were ready to kill Catholics over such matters as true Catholic education as they did St. Margaret Clitherow, Catholic marriage as they did St. Thomas More, and the Catholic Mass as they did so many bishops and priests.
A great feature that the Haydock version has is its running commentary of Catholic saints and Fathers on the same page as the text which appear as footnotes.
Both the Old Testament and New Testament have this Bible commentary. This helps you understand the true Catholic understanding of Scriptures, which is sometimes hard to "wrest"!
The reprints of both the Douay and the Haydock Douay-Rheims Bible also have a mini Catholic dictionary.
The Haydock Bible has a most beautiful pictorial Catholic Dictionary that is an unusually interesting feature that adds a great value to the book.
There are also other appendices such as phenomenal pictures of Bible stories and there's a Bible history.
Both the Haydock and the regular Douay are usually printed with a timeline history in the back.
The New Regulations on Indulgences booklet from TAN Books says, that among the plenary indulgences that are left to us, there is a plenary indulgence for reading the Bible.
Since the word "the" is indicative of a particular single item it should be understood that one should use a Roman Catholic Bible so as to be certain to be studying or reading the whole Bible and nothing but the Catholic Bible!
See the prayer here:
Even when your children are young, you will want them to only have a good version of the Bible. The stories and the meaning may last them their whole lives.
These are the best children's Bibles I have found. They are both recommended by many Catholic homeschools.
I do urge you to read the books first, to double check the modesty and the meanings in any children's Bible stories.
Rev. Justus Knecht has a A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture that is an excellent Bible history book and has an easy English Bible Commentary for high school and adults.
It is even excellent for meditation and spiritual reading. It tells the story with an emphasis on teaching the catechism and practicing virtues. Wonderful book!
Child's Bible History, by Frederick Justus Knecht has lovely pictures and a simple retelling of the Bible stories for children.
Me? I'd get one for each child and let them carefully color the Bible pictures. It has the best Bible lessons for children.
“The real question, to determine whether a translation is good, is: does the translation propose language that loses the original sense and even inclines towards saying things dubious with or contrary to the Faith.”
You can take a Douay “based” Missal (Angelus, Baronius, Lasance, older New Marians and some Saint Andrews) and compare it line for line with a CCD version (the Lectionary read from our local Lectern was printed in the 1940s. The Epistles and Gospels title I own was published and gifted in 1941 by J. P. Christopher, English Editor of the Revision, to a Msgr. Thomas F. Friel, PhD complete with gold inscription stamped onto the front cover).
Over time you will see that the language does indeed lose the original sense and even inclines toward other meanings.
The unisex language is in the 1955 CCD edition that I own, not merely the later NAB, etc., 1 Cor. 12:3 The teerm "no man" is rendered "no one" and "Holy Ghost" is rendered "Holy Spirit". These terms might mean the same thing in this particular case, yet this is one instance that shows that the change in terminology is already there in the 1950s.
Genesis 3:15 is a good text to compare Bibles.
As for learning which is the Vulgate version St. Alphonsus Liguori makes the distinction of using the Vulgate in using “she shall crush” in The Glories of Mary, page 155 and 156 and the whole chapter here:
Page 156: “Some of the commentators doubt whether these words refer to Mary or to Jesus Christ, because in the Septuagint version we read: 'He shall crush thy head.' But in our Vulgate, which is the only version approved by the Council of Trent, it is She, and not He. And thus St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, and many others have understood it. However this may be, it is certain that the Son by means of the mother, or the mother by means of the son has vanquished Lucifer; so that this proud spirit, as St. Bernard tells us, has been ignominiously overpowered and crushed by this blessed Virgin.”
Another good text by which to compare Bible quotes is Jesus' commission to the Apostles in Matthew 28:19-20:
It is one thing to teach others, it is a world different to "make disciples of all nations". This change in text reminds me of today's education methods.
Choosing to defend the DRB over the CCD is not merely a matter of personal choice. Here we see the authority of a saint quoting the Council of Trent in a manner that can help us discern the better translation.
St. Alphonsus, a Doctor of the Church also quotes other saints who are Fathers and Doctors of the Church.
The Douay-Rhiems passes this test and the CCD does not. St. Alphonsus Liguori opposed the Septuagint to the Vulgate.
Popes, bishops, priests, and Missal publishers.
Pope St. Pius X's Pascendi explains much about early efforts to change the texts and the meaning in Holy Scriptures.
The Confraternity changed other important terms from the Latin roots to Anglo root words:
From some of my old notes in a 1955 Catholic Book Publishing edition of the CCD version of the Bible I share two references to Our Lord Jesus Christ are omitted, see especially:
The changes" started long before Vatican II or the 1940s.
Later a great apostle of the Church, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, on page 158 of Open Letter To Confused Catholics says,
“Throw out the books that carry Modernist poison. … Do not buy just any Bible; every Catholic family ought to have a faithful translation of the Vulgate, the Latin version made by Saint Jerome in the fourth century and canonized by the Church. Hold on to the true interpretation of the Scriptures, keep to the true Mass and the Sacraments such as were formerly administered everywhere.”
He quotes The Apostle, St. Paul, “’Keep the traditions. Stand fast in those things which you have learned’ (II Thessalonians 2:14).” And he ends the chapter with “By keeping to what the Church has always taught you will ensure the future.”
I know a very well studied priest, expert in several languages, who called the CCD translation trash. He would not use it.
Many other good priests have brought their own Catholic Missals to the pulpit in order to read the Epistle and Gospel. One had intended to give a sermon on the virtue of temperance and stumbled when the CCD used the term sobriety (a reduction in meaning).
We have the recommendation of, not only these and other traditional priests, but also
I trust these and the fact that there were very few changes in the DRB for over three hundred years especially when compared to the changes made by translators in the mid-1900s who used
Today’s traditional Catholic schools and Catholic homeschools have required or recommended the Douay as the Catholic Bible for school use in spite of the CCD being “pre-Vatican II”.
We see quite a long use of the Douay Rheims Bible (long “canonized” by the English speaking magisterium?). This is quite a good recommendation for the DRB being "what the Church has always taught" – the closest this housewife has found anyway.
Watch and pray.
As for Christmas gifts, Baronius Press and TAN Books publish Douay-Rheims Bibles in several sizes and in several colors. TAN has both paperback and hard bound editions.
It is one thing to search for an enjoyable Bible story book for one’s children, it is entirely another thing to say that the CCD is as good as the Douay Rheims Bible.
Bible story coloring pages sparkle up Bible stories for children. You will find that we have many our
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