Phone Books, Bibles and Monks
Before the printing press made the Scriptures more widely available in the mid 15th century, Bibles had to be laboriously copied by hand word for word, page for page, day after day, year after year. The person copying it was none other than a Catholic monk who felt it was his sacred task of making more Scriptures available to the Church. He had to use velum or sheepskin to write on and the estimated cost of the completed work was over three year's wages. In my county the median yearly income is 60,000 dollars so that would make one of these Bibles worth the equivalent of 180,000 dollars! So that's certainly not going to be able to gather dust on just anybody's coffee table.
These Bibles were very precious and the Church intended this precious book to be available to anyone who wanted to read it. Therefore, it was chained to the desk in the teaching centers of Europe and the pulpits to insure that it would not be stolen and would remain available to all.
If this is hard to understand, think about the phone booth and a dark rainy night when your car breaks down(before the days of cellphones). You see a phone booth in the distance and you pray that it has one of those dogeared phone books chained to the booth. Why did the phone company chain it to the booth? So it would still be there for you on a dark rainy night in your time of need and importunity. How your heart leapt for joy when you found the phone book and yellow pages were still intact hanging from that "golden chain."
Well, the Catholic Church is wiser than Bell Atlantic and the Bible is much more precious than a phone book. The Church chained Bibles to preserve them for all and not to keep the faithful from reading it as suggested by certain anti-catholic cults . Another anti-catholic internet legend bites the dust. More legends to come.