Bibles, Evangeliaries, Breviaries and Books of Hours

Seminario 21-22 Bibles, Evangeliaries, Breviaries and Books of Hours
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Prof  Lucinia Speciale

Prof Lucinia Speciale

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In the academic year 21-22, the Research Centre for European Philological Tradition (London, Zurich, Lugano, Florence, Rome) is organising once again its annual public seminar on codicology. This year the focus will be on liturgical books. The meetings will be held via Zoom every Thursday from 11 November 2021 to 26 May 2022 (with training credits for University students at Bachelor and Master level).

The seminar is part of a more articulated Course in Applied Codicology for Auction Houses and Antiquarian Galleries, organised by the RECEPTIO centre over a 3-year period, and is presented as a series of conferences that bring together contributions from speakers from various universities on the theme of Bibles, Evangeliaries, Breviaries and Books of Hours.


The seminar meetings take place every Thursday from 5pm to 7pm from November to June

at the permanent Zoom link:

ID: 941 306 0862

Passcode: 697326


Date: 11 November 2021

Introduction, in Italian, to the seminar, presentation of the program and of the seminar-related activities .

Date: 18 November 2021

Lecturer Rebekah Cochell

Adjunct Instructor at Liberty University’s School of Digital and Studio Arts Department (Lynchburg, Virginia). 

Language: English

Title: The Book of Kells as a Semiotic Model for Modern Book Design

AbstractThe graphic design of a book affects the way the reader receives and processes information. However, design is often focused on aesthetic principles and traditional wisdom, not considering how design aspects affect cognitive processes and educational outcomes. Medieval manuscript design encouraged a reading culture nurtured by deep, contemplative and slow reading methods, enhanced by semiotic images, text and design. This presentation examines the efficacy of page design elements on educational outcomes, specifically disfluent fonts, handwritten fonts and multi-modal design and explores how medieval illuminated manuscripts, such as the Book of Kells, can influence modern design.

Date: 25 November 2021

Lecturer Gianluca Millesoli

Università di Siena

Language: Italian

TitleDal Sacramentario al Messale: i manoscritti toscani della transizione (secoli XI-XIII)

Abstract: L’origine delle diverse tipologie testuali, che caratterizzano la “biblioteca” entro cui confluiscono i diversi manoscritti liturgici medievali, affonda le sue radici in una tradizione orale che, all’alba della diffusione del cristianesimo, tra il bacino del Mediterraneo e il Medioriente, troverà ben presto un’elaborazione testuale scritta. Per porre fine alla dispersiva e rischiosa improvvisazione liturgica, troppo spesso foriera di elementi eterodossi, la liturgia latina veniva organizzata attraverso l’allestimento di veri e propri libri liturgici d’uso. Si trattava di libri "puri", nel senso che contenevano ciascuno una sola tipologia testuale della celebrazione e che quindi utili ad un unico ministro, preposto ad un solo ruolo. Alle soglie del secolo XI si assiste ad un fenomeno di fusione dei vari libri da messa: i testi confluiranno in un libro onnicomprensivo, contenente tutti gli elementi per la celebrazione dell’eucarestia, un libro “plenario”, il Messale. Il passaggio da una tipologia all’altra è stato segnato da una lenta transizione, un’unica transizione che si è manifestata in modi diversissimi, sia negli aspetti testuali, sia in quelli codicologici; la creazione di un corpus toscano di 106 testimonianze librarie, tra codici e frammenti di codice databili fra XI e XIV secolo, ne permette un’analisi puntuale.

Date: 2 December 2021

Lecturer Maggie Crosland

The Saint Louis Art Museum and Washington University in St. Louis 

Language: English

Title: Itinerancy and Devotional Efficacy in Late-Fourteenth Century Books of Hours

Abstract: As an object-type, the book of hours is often discussed in how they guide their users through time, presenting a devotional schedule that evokes the past to achieve spiritual goals in the future. This presentation, instead, will explore how the expectation of daily use that is inherent to a book of hours is sometimes articulated not only through the reinforcement of devotional time, but through evocations of different types of physical space. Focusing on a group of manuscripts made for members of the Valois family in the late fourteenth century, this paper will consider visual, archival, and codicological evidence to demonstrate that the near constant movements of figures like Philip the Bold and Jean de Berry served a critical role in the devotional efficacy of their illuminated prayer books. 

Date: 9 December 2021

Lecturer:  Hayarpi Hakobyan

Yerevan State University, Armenia
Language: English

Title: Medieval Armenian Gospel illumination in the Lake Van region
Abstract: The artistic character of Armenian illuminated manuscripts was often determined by the cultural environment and political situation of the region where the scriptorium was active. The Lake Van area, the former Vaspurakan province and domain of the Artsruni kings, after the fall of the kingdom in the 11th century, fell under Byzantine, Seljuk, Mongol dominations and was marked by a unique evolution of the arts. The local artistic traditions, enriched by cultural exchanges with Middle Eastern countries, were sufficiently alive to dispense with Byzantine art. We will attempt to reveal the artistic trends that characterized the Gospel illumination of the Lake Van region from the 13th century onwards.

Date: 16 December 2021

Lecturer: Carla Rossi

University of Zurich / Research centre for European Philological Tradition, London
Language: Italian

Title: The Brandenburg Gospel Lectionary
Abstract: The Brandenburg Gospel Lectionary is the greatest treasure of the Cathedral Chapter at Brandenburg. This impressive masterpiece from the late Romanesque period survived all the wars, fires and turmoils of history and has remained in its original destination and in the care of the same institution for more than 800 years. The manuscript will be on display at the Magdeburg exhibition 'With Bible and Spade', from September 8, 2021 to January 9, 2022.

Date: 13 January 2022

Lecturer Adrienn Orosz

Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

Language: English

Title: Introduction to some "mise en abyme" initials in Romanesque and Gothic Mss from England 

Abstract: Initials were illustrated with various motifs including floral elements, animals, humans, and fantastic beings. Historiated initials depicted also scenes that referred to stories from the Bible, thus elevating the letter to the plane of symbols. A special type of them, however, was much more than that: they foreshowed, summarised, or referred back to different points within the story. They were used like an emblem, similar to coats of arms adorned with a group of symbols. I examine these initials in my paper, offering their definition, and outlining their structure, typology, arrangement, and development in Romanesque and Gothic manuscripts from England.


Date: 20 January 2022

Lecturer: Agnès Bos

Museum and Gallery Studies 

Co-Director, Museums, Galleries and Collections Institute

School of Art History  

University of St Andrews 

School of Art History, 79 North Street 

St Andrews, KY16 9AL, Fife, Scotland

Language: French

Title: L’évangéliaire de l’ordre du Saint-Esprit retrouvé

Abstract: L’ordre du Saint-Esprit, fondé par le roi de France Henri III en 1578, fut jusqu’à la Révolution française le principal ordre de chevalerie royal en France. Il se distinguait par une cérémonie annuelle particulièrement fastueuse au cours de laquelle les nouveaux chevaliers étaient reçus. Ils prêtaient serment au roi de France, chef de cet ordre, en posant les mains sur l’évangéliaire de l’ordre. J’ai récemment retrouvé ce manuscrit, réalisé à la fin du XVIe siècle et considéré comme perdu depuis le XIXe siècle, et je propose donc d’analyser sa création, son contenu et son usage au cours de l’histoire de l’ordre.

Date: 27 January 2022

Lecturer: Francesca Manzari

Professore associato, Sapienza Università di Roma

Language: Italian

Title: Libri d’ore e codici devozionali nell'Italia tardomedievale: tipologie di testi e ruolo delle immagini

Abstract: I libri per la devozione utilizzati in Italia nel tardo Medioevo presentano una varietà notevole rispetto alla produzione transalpina. I libri d’ore, infatti, non raggiungono qui la diffusione, ma neppure la standardizzazione che caratterizza quelli franco-fiamminghi. Nella penisola le letture alternative, per le pratiche devozionali, rimangono numerose nell’arco del Trecento. Sono proprio le immagini a modellare le differenti tipologie di testi, adattando i codici che li contengono all’uso per la devozione privata. L’intervento intende presentare questi fenomeni, che devono essere indagati in modo complessivo, per restituire l’immagine della multiforme galassia costituita da questi straordinari codici miniati.

Date: 17 March 2022

Lecturer: Morris M. Faierstein

M. M. Faierstein studied at the City College of New York, the Hebrew University, Yeshiva Pri Etz Hayyim (Jerusalem), Jewish Theological Seminary of America and received his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Temple University in Philadelphia. In 2001, he was awarded an honorary D.D. by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. 

Language: English

Title: The Early Modern Yiddish Bible: From the Mirkevet ha-Mishneh to Blitz and Witzenhausen (1534–1686).

Abstract: The vernacular developed by the Jews living in the German-speaking lands was referred to as “Teutsch,” meaning translation. In the 18th century it began to be called Jüdisch-Deutsch (Jewish-German) and eventually received its modern name, Yiddish. However, unlike the earlier Bible translations, there is no significant tradition in the lands where German/Yiddish was spoken of translating the Torah or other parts of the Bible into the Jewish vernacular prior to the Early Modern period. Hebrew remained the language of the Bible and its study. There is a meager tradition of Yiddish biblical manuscripts, with the majority of the few surviving manuscripts dating from no earlier than the 15th century. Many of the surviving manuscripts are copies of published works from the 16th and even the 17th century. There has been no significant scholarship on this manuscript tradition. For this reason, this study will restrict itself to the printed Yiddish works from the Early Modern period relating to the Bible.

(External link:


Date: 24 March 2022

Lecturer: Teresa D'Urso

Professore associato, Università degli studi della Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”

Language: Italian

TitleArte e devozione a Napoli al tempo di Roberto e Giovanna d’Angiò: la diffusione dei breviari miniati


Durante i regni di Roberto (1309-1343) e Giovanna d’Angiò (1343-1381), Napoli conobbe una significativa diffusione di lussuosi breviari miniati, destinati tanto a membri degli ordini mendicanti quanto a laici appartenenti alla nobiltà più vicina alla corte. Il fenomeno sembra riguardare in particolare le donne, tra le quali spiccano alcune clarisse del monastero del Corpus Christi, oggi meglio noto come Santa Chiara.

L’intervento analizzerà alcuni breviari miniati napoletani mettendo in luce le pratiche devozionali, le preferenze artistiche e le strategie di auto-rappresentazione dei loro possessori.

Date: 31 March 2022

Lecturer: Innocent Smith, op

Assistant Professor of Homiletics

St. Mary's Seminary and University

Baltimore, MD