Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Beautiful Lectionaries in the Bibliothèque nationale de France

Since we recently highlighted a very ugly lectionary, and the general lack of beauty in modern liturgical books, I thought it would be nice to share some images of beautiful lectionaries of various kinds and periods from the endlessly useful website of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Some of the most famous liturgical manuscripts in the world are kept there, and can be downloaded for free in pdf format; here is just a tiny selection of their many treasures.

Greek Evangeliary, date unspecified, (Supplément grec 27, folio 1r) - St John the Evangelist is shown dictating his Gospel to his amanuensis St Prochoros, who was one of the first seven deacons. As can be seen from the folio number, this is at the very beginning of the manuscript; Byzantine Gospel books are traditionally arranged according to the order of their liturgical use, starting with Easter, on which the Gospel is John 1, 1-17.
The cover of a Latin Evangeliary from the last quarter of the 9th century. (ms. Latin 9453)
St Matthew Writing His Gospel, from the 9th century Evangeliary of Ebon (folio 18v)
Evangeliary of the Court of Charlemagne, also known as the Golden Evangeliary (Évangéliaire dor) or Evangeliary of Saint-Martin-des-Champs. 8th century, folio 61 r. - The beginning of the Gospel of St Mark.
Evangeliary according to the Use of Paris, 1345-1350, folio 1 r. - The Gospel of the First Sunday of Advent in many medieval Uses, including those of Paris and Sarum, was that which the traditional Roman use reads on Palm Sunday, St Matthew, 21, 1-9.
Lectionary for Mass and Office from the Monastery of Mont-Majeur, 1075-1200 (ms. Latin 889, folio 7v) - The Vision of St John the Evangelist 
Office Lectionary according to the Use of Cluny (ms. NAL 2246, folio 6r) - A homily on the Gospel of the Annunciation.
Greek Evangeliary, 10th century, (ms. Grec 277, 87r)
Office Lectionary for the use of the Bishop of Troyes, (15th cent. NAL 2629, folio 3) - This is the 9th lesson of Christmas Matins, the beginning of the Prologue of St John’s Gospel, followed by a homily of St Bede.
Another Evangeliary from the court of Charlemagne, also known as the Evangeliary of Godescalc, 781-82. - In the Carolingian period, the temporal cycle in liturgical manuscripts began with Christmas Eve, and ended with Advent; here is the Gospel for Christmas Eve, St Matthew 1, 18-21.

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