Homiliaries are compilations of sermons or explanations of biblical texts, arranged according to significant days in the liturgical calendar, such as Advent, Pentecost and Easter. They were very popular in the early medieval period and many copies survive. Their texts were drawn from a huge variety of sources, both Church Fathers such as St Augustine of Hippo (d. 430) and St Jerome (d. 420) and theologians including Bede (d. 725), Paul the Deacon (d. 799) and Fulbert of Chartres (d. 1028).
This manuscript is the third volume of a homiliary, once housed at the abbey of St-Pierre de Corbie in northern France. An inscription on one of the manuscript pages tells us the name of its scribe – Jean d’Amiens (or Jean le Borgne) – and that it was copied in 1179. The manuscript also includes a number of delicately drawn ‘historiated initials’, enlarged letters that contain images. These initials mark the beginnings of significant sections in the book and represent stories from the New Testament, including the Nativity and the Ascension of Christ, and from the history of the early Christian Church.
This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.
- Article by:
- Charlotte Denoël
- Art and illumination, Making manuscripts, Christian religion and belief
Drawings and painted decoration in manuscripts ornamented the text as well as illustrated or commented on it. Charlotte Denoël outlines the history of manuscript art in early medieval France.