Four Books of Dialogues


This book is a copy of the first printed edition of the Dialogues traditionally ascribed to Saint Gregory the Great (540–604, pope 590–604). The first three books of the Dialogues recount the deeds of Italian saints, with the second book devoted entirely to Saint Benedict (circa 480–547), author of the famous Rule of Benedict for monks and founder of the abbey and monastery of Monte Cassino near Rome. Gregory's literary portrait of Benedict has provided the iconography for the ornamentation of Benedictine monasteries and manuscripts through the centuries. The edition of the Dialogues printed in Strassburg (present-day Strasbourg, France) in the early 1470s, the first using the new technology of movable type, is quite rare. This copy was left unfinished: there are spaces for the addition of hand-painted initials but they were never added. The early 19th century binding is by François Bozerian, known as Bozerian le Jeune (“the Younger,” 1765–1818), one of the finest French bookbinders of the period.

Last updated: September 11, 2012