58 results in English
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 ...
Apostle Lectionary
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 ...
Dobreisho Gospel
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 ...
Banitsa Gospel
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 ...
Chasoslovets
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 ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
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 ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Loftie Hours
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 ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
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 ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Claricia Psalter
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 ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Carrow Psalter
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 ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Almugavar Hours
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 ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Prayer Book
This illuminated prayer book, made in the Netherlands in the early 16th century, contains Latin prayers and passages from the Gospels. Although small in scale, it is notable for its abundance of illuminations, with nearly 60 extant small miniatures. Full-color portraits embellish the prayers to the Virgin and suffrages, while the images within the Gospel narrative are rendered primarily in grisaille, a nearly entirely gray monochrome technique. The last folios include a trompe-l'oeil foliate margin and a Crucifixion that seems to be a later addition. Throughout the book, gold ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Book of Hours
In the Byzantine world, this book would have been known as a horologion, or book of hours. Illustrated books of hours in Greek are extremely rare, and this example is one of only two surviving horologia with image cycles. The manuscript includes many full-page miniatures, which show interaction between the late-Byzantine and Gothic artistic styles. The manuscript may have been copied on the island of Crete, which in the 15th century was under Venetian rule. Unlike the images found in Western books of hours, which typically are drawn from the ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Marginal Psalter
This manuscript, illustrated with 155 marginal paintings, is one the few surviving “marginal psalters,” in which images provide a pictorial commentary on the Biblical text. Other examples include the Khludov Psalter (circa 850, Moscow, State Historical Museum, Muz. 129), the Barberini Psalter (circa 1050, Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. Barb. Gr. 372), the Theodore Psalter (1066, London, British Library, Add. Ms. 19,352), and a Cyrillic psalter made in Kiev (1397, Saint Petersburg, National Library of Russia, cod. OLDP, F6). The marginal psalter of the Walters Museum was apparently ...
Contributed by Walters Art Museum
Dialogue in Praise of the Holy Cross
Dialogus de laudibus sanctae crucis (Dialogue in praise of the Holy Cross), written between 1170 and 1180, and once owned by the Benedictine monastery of Saint Emmeram in Ratisbon (present-day Regensburg), Bavaria, contains a text in praise of the Cross, which has come down only in this manuscript. The text, written by an unidentified author, is in the form of a didactic dialogue between “Magister” and “Discipulus,” the teacher and a pupil. It relates the history of salvation to the Holy Cross in the so-called typological exegetical tradition. The text ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Prayerbook of Otto III
This small prayer book was once owned by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III (980−1002). Although it hardly stands out when compared with other luxuriously illuminated manuscripts, it was intended for the sovereign’s private devotion and is one of only two royal prayer books from the early Middle Ages to survive. It was probably commissioned after the year 984, presumably by Archbishop Willigis of Mainz, when the four-year-old Otto was committed to the care of his mother and grandmother, the empresses Theophanu and Adelaide, after his father’s ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Glagolitic Leaves in Hlohovec
These two fragments are among the oldest artifacts in the manuscript collections of the Slovak National Library. They are parchment folios, written on both sides, and are of Croatian provenance. It is believed that they came to the territory of Slovakia through the Franciscan friars or by the exchange of codices and printed books among Franciscan libraries or archives. They were discovered at the library of the former Franciscan monastery in Hlohovec in southwestern Slovakia in 1936. The folios contain parts of the Glagolitic service book from the end of ...
Contributed by Slovak National Library
The Krtíš Glagolitic Fragment
This manuscript fragment contains part of an explanation of an unknown gospel. It was at one time bound into a Glagolitic copy of the manuscript book Historia Scholastica by Peter Comestor. The text of the fragment was written in the angular Glagolitic script invented during the ninth century by Saints Cyril and Methodius to translate the Bible and other ecclesiastical works into the language of the Great Moravia region. Around 1633 the folio was used to fill the book binding of the Czech translation of Pastorale Lutheri (The pastoral of ...
Contributed by Slovak National Library
Canonical Book of Hours
This book of hours from Slovakia originated in France. Features that reflect French influence and provenance include the script, its decoration, and the initial letter “D” (Domine) with the motif of the Virgin Mary holding a book, and a heraldic shield bearing the arms of the white cross with the heart (the arms of the Order of Crucigeri) carried by two angels. Similarly, the content of the codex, mainly the structure of its calendarium, indicates that it arose within the milieu of an Augustinian monastery or of the Crucigeri Friars ...
Contributed by Slovak National Library
Crown of Roses, Issue 1, August 1904
Klílā d-warde (Crown of roses) was a magazine issued in Mosul (present-day Iraq) between August 1904 and July 1908. It was published by the Dominican Fathers, in the neo-Aramaic language using an East Syriac script, which was common to the Chaldean Catholics of the region. It contained devotional articles, with occasional coverage of cultural topics. The magazine was produced by a small staff of clergy based in Mosul. The Dominican presence in the city goes back to 1750, when Pope Benedict XIV sent a group of Italian friars to establish ...
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Book of Hours for Use in Paris: The Hours of René of Anjou
This book of hours was written around 1435−36 in the workshop of the Rohan Master in Paris for René of Anjou (1409−80), the second son of Louis II of Anjou. The portraits of Louis II and René are to be found on folios 61 and 81 respectively, along with René’s coat of arms and emblems. These are death wearing a crown, the eagle holding the Cross of Lorraine (in reference to his first wife, Isabelle of Lorraine, from whom he inherited the duchy in 1431), and the ...
Book of Hours: Images of the Life of Christ and the Saints
This manuscript, a book of hours from the late 13th century, is comprised of 87 full-page illuminations illustrating scenes from the life of Christ and the lives of saints. The book is a Cistercian church calendar in Latin. The other text to be found in the work is a short caption under each image. When it was first created, the codex included 90 illuminations. A masterpiece of gothic illumination, the manuscript shows how important religious images were for the devotions of its owner. This most likely was a wealthy lay ...
Flemish Psalter
This Flemish Psalter from the library of the Irish College in Paris was made in Bruges (present-day Belgium) around 1500. The manuscript is written in Latin on vellum, and it has a 19th-century binding. Psalters are religious books, especially popular in the Middle Ages, containing the psalms (poems that are sung) from the Bible, often with other devotional texts. Richly decorated, the Psalter includes a fully illuminated page depicting the Tree of Jesse and a miniature of King David, the main author of the psalms. Twelve illuminations, each composed of ...
Contributed by Irish College in Paris
Hours of Notre Dame
Books of hours are collections of prayers used for private devotion. They were the most common illuminated works of the Middle Ages. Heures de Notre-Dame (The book of hours of Notre Dame) was made in Bruges (present-day Belgium) around 1470. The manuscript, written in Latin and on vellum, is most likely the work of William Wyelant or his studio. Wyelant, also known by the Flemish spelling of his name, Willem Vrelant, was an influential illuminator who was active in Bruges from 1449 until his death in 1481. The leaves of ...
Contributed by Irish College in Paris
Iberian or Georgian Alphabet with Prayers
Alphabetum ibericum, sive georgianum: cum Oratione (Iberian or Georgian alphabet with prayers) is one of the first two books printed in Georgian using moveable type. In the 1620s, the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, the body of the Roman Catholic Church established in the early 17th century for the purpose of spreading Catholicism in non-Catholic countries, began to train monks going to Georgia for missionary work. The monks were taught Georgian by Niceforo Irbachi Giorgiano, the ambassador of the Georgian king, Teimuraz I, in Rome. The sacred ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Book of Hours
The Book of Hours was a prayer book for the laity that developed in late medieval Europe and that was used for private devotion. These works were often personalized for individual patrons and illuminated with miniature paintings depicting the life of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and individual saints. The text included a calendar of liturgical feast days and a series of prayers to be recited eight times a day, according to established practice. By the early Renaissance period the popularity of the Book of Hours demonstrated the growing interest of ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
The Book of the Stairway of Virtues
This manuscript has a number of distinguishing features. The text is in Garshuni (Arabic in Syriac characters), but the catchword (a word given at the bottom of one page matching the first word on the next page to ensure the proper page order is kept) is given in Arabic script. Biblical citations are indicated (sometimes in red) in the margin, written sideways (as in, for example, folio 13r, where Matthew 10:16 is cited). The diacritical dots given to the letters are black when the main script is red, and ...
The Book of Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, the Founder of the Jesuit Monastic Order
This manuscript is an Arabic translation of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. At the beginning of the manuscript, Ignatius (1491–1556) is expressly described as the founder of “Jesuit monasticism.” The text also states that this work was translated from Latin into Arabic in the Phoenician city of Sidon, in the year 1731 by the Jesuit Pierre Fromage (1678–1740). The translation was for the benefit of those in Eastern countries, as it was known that many in Western countries had benefited from the Latin version of the ...
Mirror of the Souls
The Maronite theologian and philosopher Buṭrus al-Tūlānī (1655–1745) was active as a teacher, preacher, and writer. This manuscript, dated 1822 and with the author’s full name given on folio 2r, contains a Garshuni (Arabic language in Syriac script) copy of his Mirror of the Souls (Mir’āt al-Nufūs), a work on contemplative prayer. Other copies of this work are (or were) known to exist elsewhere in Lebanon and Syria. Unlike the rest of the volume, the colophon of this manuscript is in Arabic, not Syriac, letters; the title ...
Pandect
This text is an Arabic translation of a Christian work originally written in Greek in the 11th century, known as the Pandect (or Pandektes) of Nikon of the Black Mountain. The Greek title of the book means The Universal (Book). The Arabic title, Al-Ḥāwī, has almost the same meaning: The Comprehensive Book. The text is divided into 63 sections and offers an exposition of Christian doctrine and life based on excerpts from the Bible, the church fathers, and church canons. The work was popular among Arabic-speaking Christians, as evidenced by ...
Commentary on Song of Songs; Letter on the Soul; Letter on Ascesis and the Monastic Life
This 14th-century manuscript is a collection of translations into Arabic. At the beginning is the Commentary on the Song of Songs, originally in Greek, by Gregory of Nyssa (died 394), brother of Basil the Great and, with him and Gregory of Nazianzus, one of the three so-called Cappadocian Fathers. Next comes one of the many pieces of philosophy in Arabic attributed to Hermes the Sage, A Letter on the Soul. The manuscript concludes with a letter of Isaac of Nineveh (active, end of the seventh century) on asceticism and monasticism ...
The Drogo Sacramentary
The sacramentary was a liturgical book used for prayer during the High Middle Ages, containing the prayers, prefaces, and canons for mass. Drogo (801–55), bishop of Metz, son of Charlemagne, and famous patron of his era, had a gorgeous copy of the sacramentary made in Metz around 845–55. The manuscript, which is on vellum, is the work of several artists employed by the imperial court. It is written in a clear Latin script and includes some of the most beautiful fleurons ever produced in Metz. The illumination is ...