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Psalter of Frederick II
This remarkable illuminated psalter decorated in the Byzantine style was commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II of Sicily (1194–1250) for his third wife, Isabella of England (1214–41). Frederick married Isabella in 1235. By design and execution, the manuscript illuminations combine the color palette of Byzantium with the stylistic rendering of the plasticity of the human body common to the Italian school of the period. Probably executed at the scriptorium in Acri, a hill town in Calabria, the manuscript is decorated with a full-page initial letter encompassing ...
Book of the Passion of Saint Margaret the Virgin, with the Life of Saint Agnes, and Prayers to Jesus Christ and to the Virgin Mary
This volume is a compilation of three manuscripts produced in Bologna at the end of the 13th century. It begins with the Passion of Saint Margaret of Antioch, in Latin. This is followed by two texts in Italian, one describing the life and devotion of Saint Agnes and one containing prayers to the Virgin Mary. Each manuscript is written in a different hand; evidence suggests that the three parts were brought together and bound at the beginning of the 14th century. The only part of the book that is illustrated ...
The Apostle Lectionary, written on parchment in the second half of the 13th century, is one of the important linguistic sources delimiting the early (Preslav) from the later (Athonite) redaction of this liturgical book. The lectionary contains the portions of scripture, the lessons, to be read at divine service on particular days of the church calendar. This manuscript is remarkable for the completeness of the readings from the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles, and for its detailed menologion, a monthly calendar indicating the feast days of saints that ...
This parchment manuscript, of which only a part has survived, is from the first quarter of the 13th century. The year 1221 was written on the manuscript at a significantly later date and may have been copied from an original colophon by a later owner. Known as the Dobreisho Gospel, the manuscript is an important witness to the history and early development of the Bulgarian language. Of particular interest is the rich illumination, including two full-page miniatures of the evangelists Luke and John. The portrait of the latter is accompanied ...
The Banitsa Gospel, written on parchment in Church Slavonic in the late 13th century, is one of the manuscripts testifying to the end of the anonymity of Bulgarian men of letters at around this time. The colophon indicates that the scribe who made the manuscript was the priest Ioann at Saint Nicholas Church in the village of Banitsa (presumably in the Vratsa region of present-day northwestern Bulgaria). The characteristic script and the ornamental illumination, elaborated in black, red, and yellow ink, reflect a local manuscript tradition. The menologion (calendar) includes ...
Menaion for June-August with Synaxarion
This parchment manuscript of the Menaion for June–August with synaxarion (a collection of brief biographies of the saints) can be dated to the second half of the 13th century. It is important as the earliest known manuscript to include the service of Saint Ioakim Osogovski (Joachim of Osogovo), hermit and founder of the monastery known as Sarandapor. His memory, celebrated on August 16, was popular in Bulgaria and elsewhere in the Balkans during the Middle Ages and in the period of the Bulgarian National Revival of the 18th and ...
This chasoslovets (book of hours or horologion) is the first book printed by the first Bulgarian printer, Iakov (Jacob) Kraikov. It is a collection of prayers, eulogies, saints’ lives, and apocrypha that both served as a daily handbook for priests and was valued by lay readers in search of knowledge and enlightenment. Kraikov printed the book in Venice, at the largest Slavic Cyrillic printing-house for Serbs and Bulgarians in the city, which he acquired in 1566. The selection of font, typesetting, pagination, and the rich artful decoration (more than 30 ...
Rosary and Service Dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Other Devotions Combined in Honor of the Most Holy Trinity and in Worship of the Most Venerable Queen of the Heavens
Rosarium et Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis (Rosary and service dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary), a Latin devotional book published in Vilnius, Lithuania, in 1678–79, is regarded as one of the rarest and most important Belarusian publications of the 17th century. The book was created by Oleksandr Tarasevych (circa 1640–1727), an outstanding master of book design, engraving, portraiture, and heraldic and panegyric printing, whose best works compare favorably with those of the great West European artists. Tarasevych created his most innovative works, including the prints for Rosarium, in ...
The Book of Fridays
The first book printed in Armenian was the Urbathagirq (The book of Fridays), which was published in Venice in 1512 by Hakob Meghapart (Jacob the Sinner). Little is known about Hakob Meghapart, or why he styled himself “the Sinner” (or “the Sinful”). Armenia was at that time under the rule of the Ottoman Turks, and the Diaspora community played a critically important role in keeping alive the Armenian language and literary tradition. Written in Grabar (Classical Armenian), the book consists mainly of prayers and remedies for the sick, together with ...
Letters, Pedagogical Teachings, and Sayings of Saint Anthony of Egypt
This manuscript opens with the 20 letters “to the sons who follow his [Anthony’s] gentle path…and prayers to keep us from Satan’s example.” The letters are for the most part short, many not exceeding five folios. According to an introductory note, they are addressed to both men and women. The work is in a bold but relaxed hand. Each letter or other significant section is set off in red. There are no contemporary marginal glosses, but comments and corrections (some in English) in pencil were made by ...
Litanies of the Virgin Mary
This Arabic manuscript contains two works pertaining to the Virgin Mary, who is recognized as the mother of Jesus Christ in both Christian and Muslim scriptures. The first manuscript is a personal prayer to the Virgin, to be recited daily for spiritual benefit. It includes a review of Mary’s place in the life of Jesus as recounted in the New Testament, beginning with the Archangel Gabriel’s announcement of the birth of Jesus and ending with Mary’s presence at the crucifixion. The second manuscript is a litany, or ...
Towards Salvation through Fervent Prayer
This manuscript of devotions attributed to Butrus al-Sadamanti appears to have been copied in the 19th century by an anonymous scribe. The manuscript includes a 40-page introduction to the devotions. The title is not found in the work itself, but is noted on the inside front cover. The binding is small and tight and the text block is generally sound except for the last pages, which are missing. Little is known of the life of the presumed author, named in the incipit as anba (bishop) and qiddis (saint) Butrus al-Sadamanti ...
Meditations, or the Contemplations of the Most Devout
Meditationes, seu Contemplationes devotissimae (Meditations, or the contemplations of the most devout) by Cardinal Juan de Torquemada (1388–1468) is thought to be the first Italian book illustrated with a series of woodcut images. The first edition was printed in Rome in 1467 by the German printer Ulrich Han. Presented here is a 1479 edition, printed in Mainz by Johann Neumeister (circa 1440–circa 1512), a German cleric and printer who claimed to have been a student of Johann Gutenberg. The designs of the 33 woodcuts, although considered rough by ...
Greek Codex from the Abbey of Grottaferrata
Saint Nilus the Younger (circa 910–1005) was born in Rossano (Calabria, southern Italy) into a notable and wealthy family. Calabria was at that time a district of the Byzantine Empire and members of Nilus’s family held important offices under the Byzantine emperors. He distinguished himself from a young age by his voracious reading and learning. Later in life he founded libraries devoted to the production of manuscripts and the teaching of calligraphy. He became a monk at about age 30 and, as a follower of the teachings of ...
The Irmologion, “Rozniki,” and Feasts: A Liturgical Compilation with Hook Notation
An Irmologion is a liturgical book of the Eastern Orthodox Church and of some Eastern Rite Catholic Churches. It contains texts for singing in church called irmoi (introductory hymns, and sometimes concluding ones) for canons chanted at Matins and other services throughout the liturgical year. The term Irmologion comes from the Greek words for “link” and “to collect.” Rozniki (chants used for some specific occasions, such as Christmas and Easter) were mostly sung in Old Believer communities, who rejected 17th century reforms in the official Russian Orthodox Church. This work ...
Book of Hours
This finely illuminated and iconographically rich book of hours was made in England at the end of the 13th century. The manuscript is incomplete and mis-bound. The original sequence of the parts of the manuscript cannot be reconstructed with certainty. The Abbreviated Hours were followed by the Hours of the Holy Spirit, the Seven Penitential Psalms, the litany and collects, the Fifteen Gradual Psalms, the Office of the Dead, and the Hours of Jesus Crucified. Whether the Prayers to the Crucified Christ, which were followed by the lections in the ...
This mid-15th-century illuminated book of hours is written entirely in Dutch on fine parchment and is remarkable for its 18 grisaille miniatures. This technique, wherein the figures are modeled primarily in a gray wash, became a favorite in the Netherlands. The hand behind the miniatures in this manuscript has been identified with one of a group of artists known as the Masters of the Delft Grisailles. The manuscript has been grouped with more than a dozen related works, including New York, Morgan Library Ms. M.349; London, Victoria and Albert ...
Duke Albrecht's Table of Christian Faith (Winter Part)
This manuscript is a document of the first importance in the history of Dutch manuscript illumination and contains an important medieval Dutch devotional text. The Tafel van den Kersten ghelove (Table of Christian faith) is a compendium of Christian knowledge written by a learned Dominican, Dirc van Delf. The text is in two parts, one for winter, another for summer. This manuscript is of the winter part and is incomplete, omitting the prologue and chapters 13, 14, and 35−57; chapters 23−24 are in inverse order. The arms of ...
The Claricia Psalter was made for, and most likely by, a group of Benedictine nuns at the abbey of Saints Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg, Germany. Although the psalter itself, along with its calendar, dates to the late-12th or early 13th century, a number of texts and prayers were added in the mid-13th century. Most striking about the manuscript are its illuminations, which include a prefatory cycle, full-page miniatures, and historiated initials. While all are Romanesque in style, they vary greatly in quality and technique, and three or four different ...
This English manuscript was made in East Anglia in the mid-13th century for a patron with special veneration for Saint Olaf, whose life and martyrdom are prominently portrayed in the Beatus initial of Psalm 1. Known as the Carrow Psalter, because of its later use by the nunnery of Carrow near Norwich, it is more accurately described as a psalter-hours, as it contains, among other texts, the Office of the Dead and the Hours of the Virgin. The manuscript is striking for its rich variety of illuminations, including full-page cycles ...
This book of hours was produced circa 1510−20 for a member of the Almugavar (or Almogàver) family of Catalonia, whose coat of arms appears throughout the manuscript in the borders of the lavish full-page miniatures. There are 26 full-page polychrome miniatures (three are missing), of which six were removed from the original quire structure after portions of the miniatures were excised, and then returned to the manuscript, having been pasted onto heavy card-stock folios. There are also 18 full-page incipits, of which three include historiated vignettes, and numerous folios ...