Rule of Benedict and Regularis Concordia
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
This manuscript is known for its copy of the 'Monastic Agreement of the Monks and Nuns of the English Nation' ('Regularis Concordia') and a copy of the Rule of St Benedict. The 'Regularis Concordia', probably written by St Aethelwold (Bishop of Winchester, 963-984) , was part of the 10th-century reform of monasteries which took place under the guidance of Aethelwold, St Dunstan (archbishop of Canterbury, 959-988) and St Oswald (Bishop of Worcester and Archbishop of York, died 992). Based on the Rule of St Benedict of Nursia (6th century), which set out the goals and daily activities for monasteries, the 'Monastic Agreement' was issued at a meeting of England's monastic leaders called in 970 by King Edgar. It confirms that the king was the protector of monks and the queen of nuns, linking monasteries to the crown. This manuscript, a later, illustrated copy which belonged to Christ Church, Canterbury, also includes prayers, homilies and material on the dramatic rituals of late Anglo-Saxon church services on major feast days.
The first of two full-page pictures in the manuscript, this frontispiece shows King Edgar seated between Dustan and Aethelwold, the three united by the unfurled scroll--a copy of the Rule of Benedict--which they hold up. Below, them a monk genuflects as he is about to wrap a scroll of the Rule around his body, enacting--literally but unrealistically--the biblical verse frequently recited by Benedictine monks, "Having our loins girded with faith and the performance of good works" (Ephesians 6:14).