Curzon Cruciform Lectionary


This 12th-century lectionary, probably produced at Constantinople, takes a distinctive form. The entire text is written in cruciform, that is, in the shape of a crucifix. While other manuscripts often contain individual pages in cruciform, it is unusual for an entire volume to be produced in this form.

Fully illuminated borders enclose the text on three pages, while throughout are illuminated initials and decorative ornaments at each angle of the cruciform text. It is bound in a 17th- or 18th-century binding of wooden boards covered with blue velvet. On both covers is a cross and corner-ornaments, all done in gilt.

The manuscript was likely commissioned by a wealthy individual, possibly a member of the imperial court at Constantinople. In the 17th century it was owned by Methodios, Bishop of Herakleia (1646-68) and later Patriarch of Constantinople (1668-71), and later moved to the Pantocrator monastery on Mount Athos.

During the Greek War of Independence the manuscript was transferred to the monastery of Xenophon, and it was purchased from there in 1837 by Robert Curzon (1810-1873). Curzon’s manuscript collection was loaned to the British Museum by his daughter Darea in 1876, and bequeathed to the Museum on her death in 1917.

Full title:
Curzon Cruciform Lectionary
12th century
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Add MS 39603

Full catalogue details

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