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The story behind new Minn. US Sen. Smith's inaugural Bible

WASHINGTON, D.C.—When Minnesota's newest U.S. senator, Tina Smith, took the oath of office Wednesday, she laid her hand across a thick, old Holy Bible — a Heilige Bibel actually — held together by a black ribbon.

And yes, Smith said, it is literally held together by that ribbon.

"I think if you were to open it up it would just sort of disintegrate," Smith said in a phone interview shortly after being sworn in.

Here's the story behind it.

"It was passed down to me. It belonged to my great-great-great-grandmother. Her name was Christina Vogel, and the Bible was printed in New York in 1848 and was given to her by her soon-to-be husband, David, in 1855.

"It's interesting because it's in German. That part of my family emigrated from Germany. Just like most of us, my family came from somewhere. And so it had symbolic meaning for me in a lot of different ways.

"I think my mother wrapped it up with that black ribbon. There are some notes inside of it that I looked at last night, but then I quickly wrapped it up again. It means a lot to me."