Texts devoted to the lives and miracles of different saints were collected and widely read during the medieval period. Copied in the mid-eleventh century at the abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, this collection is devoted to the life and miracles of St Germain, bishop of Paris, and the Abbey’s patron saint. The manuscript includes a copy of the Translatio sancti Germani episcopi Parisiensis, an account of the translation, or movement, of the Saint’s relics to a tomb within the main church of Saint Vincent, outside the walls of Paris, in 756. Preceding the text is an image of St Germain portrayed as a bishop between two robed monks, possibly officiants of the Eucharist, one holding an open book and the other a vase. A very similar arrangement is found in a drawing of St Martin in a Lectionary, or book of readings for services, believed to be by the same artist. Another appears in a sculpted form in one of the capitals above one of the columns at the Abbey.
Saint-Germain-des-Prés had a thriving scriptorium under the abbacy of Adelard (r. 1030–1060). This is an example of a liturgical book made there for devotions in the Abbey. It would have been read from at different services, particularly those marking important feast and saints’ days. The sermon and the account of the miracles performed by the Saint at the end have titles with specific instructions as to their use, for example ‘This sermon should be read at the Vigil of the Deposition of St Germain…’ The hymns that precede them have musical notation.
This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.