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Reconciling Mercy with Justice
This manuscript is a notebook containing the draft of a sermon or essay by Coptic thinker and teacher Iryan Moftah (1826–86) on the theme of the reconciliation of justice with mercy. The author’s notes are in a careful Ruqah script on unlined commercial notebook paper with holes punched for insertion into a binder. The main text is heavily annotated with Biblical citations and textual emendations in the margins. Some pages are missing, as are the last pages of the volume. The author is not named in the text ...
Concerning Virgins and Other Works
This codex of De virginibus seu potius opera varia (Concerning virgins and other works) by Saint Ambrose (circa 340−97) is from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. The book has the distinctive Medici red leather binding and a beautifully illuminated first page (recto of folio 1) executed by Matteo da Milano (active circa 1492−circa 1523). On the last page, the colophon gives the name of the copyist as “Martinus Antonius” and the date of completion as “Ides of October 1489.” Ambrose was born in ...
Revelations of Saint Bridget of Sweden
Saint Birgitta (or Bridget) of Sweden (circa 1303–73) was known for her revelations, which she reportedly wrote down in Swedish and then had translated into Latin by one of her two confessors. When she took ill, she changed her usual practice, and dictated her revelations to one of the confessors, who then translated them into Latin. In the manuscript collection at the National Library of Sweden is preserved a document that offers a unique insight into the origins of Birgitta’s revelations. It consists of three leaves of paper ...
This manuscript, written at the Cistercian abbey of Himmerode in Germany in the early 13th century, is one of 22 surviving Latin copies of the Speculum virginum (Mirror for virgins). Attributed to Conrad of Hirsau, the text was written in the first half of the 12th century as a guide for nuns, offering them theological lessons in the form of a hypothetical conversation between a teacher, Peregrinus, and his student, Theodora. The 12 illustrations in the manuscript portray the protagonists as well as the mystical visions and diagrams they discuss ...
Prayer of Wessobrunn
This manuscript, dating from the early ninth century, contains the Wessobrunner Gebet (Prayer of Wessobrunn) and many other short works. The prayer itself, in prose, which gives the text as a whole its name, is preceded by a short creation poem, which, in nine lines of alliterative verse, seeks to explain the creation of the world out of chaos. This small literary monument is among the earliest written examples of poetry in Old High German. It has come down to us in a composite (mainly Latin) manuscript written before 814 ...
Rule of Saint Benedict
Ora et labora (pray and work) is the well-known phrase that reflects the basic idea underlying the rule of monastic life, which was originally formulated by Saint Benedict of Nursia (around 480−547) and initially intended as an internal rule for the monks of Benedict’s own monastery of Montecassino in Italy. The Rule of Saint Benedict spread widely beginning in the seventh century, but in France it became the sole authoritative rule of the order only in the late eighth and early ninth centuries. Adoption of the rule was ...
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 ...
The Rule of Saint Benedict, from the Abbey of Metten
Together with the Biblia pauperum (Paupers' Bible), Abbot Petrus I of the Benedictine Abbey of Metten in Bavaria commissioned another outstanding manuscript, known as the Mettener Regel (literally, The Metten Rule, referring to the rule of Saint Benedict as practiced at the Abbey of Metten) in both Latin and German versions. The abbot had the illuminators, whose style, as in the Biblia pauperum, shows signs of Bohemian influence, paint in color scenes from the life of Saint Benedict at the openings of the chapters. The model for the work was ...