"Life of Saint Margaret" and Lives of Other Saints


Illuminated legends of saints are preserved in only a few manuscripts from the 11th century. One of the rare examples is this manuscript from the monastery of Benediktbeuern, Bavaria, which arrived in the Munich court library in 1803. The composite manuscript contains a list of martyrs and numerous lives of saints. Only the life of Saint Margaret of Antioch, on folios 63 recto−98 verso, was illuminated. The martyrdom of Margaret, the patron saint of pregnant women, was a very popular text in the Middle Ages. According to legend, the Roman prefect Olybrius fell in love with Margaret while campaigning in Antioch. The Christian Margaret, however, refused his courtship and could not be moved to relinquish her faith even under torture. She encountered the devil in the form of a dragon, which swallowed her and then disgorged her when her cross irritated its insides. Margaret was then beheaded. In the Munich manuscript, which is very close to the original type of the southern German cycle of illumination, ten frameless pen drawings accompany the text of the legend. The illustration of the manuscript, however, was never completed, probably because scribal errors and omissions had confused the correct correlation with the sequence of images.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

Vita sanctae Margaretae

Type of Item

Physical Description

I + 215 folios : parchment ; 11.5 to 12.3 x 9.5 centimeters


  • BSB Shelfmark: Clm 1133
  • This description of the work was written by Bettina Wagner of the Bavarian State Library.

Last updated: January 25, 2019