Book of Psalms


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Treasures of Kalocsa

• Book of Psalms
MS 382, c. 1438

• Letters of St. Paul
MS 371, 1250 k.



Treasures of Kalocsa

A CD series published by the Cathedral Library of Kalocsa and Studiolum

Vol. 1: Book of Psalms, MS 382
  (Bohemia, c. 1438)

• Vol. 2: Letters of St. Paul, MS 371
  (Paris, c. 1250)

• History of the Cathedral Library
   of Kalocsa


Composed by:
• Zita Grócz
   (Kalocsa Cathedral Library)
• Tamás Sajó, Antonio Bernat Vistarini
English version: John T. Cull
   (College of the Holy Cross)
German version: Sonja Lucas
   (Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz)

Edition: 2006 – ISBN 963-87196-1-3

Place your order:

Price: € 35


The Glosses of Petrus Lombardus to the Letters
of St. Paul

Petrus Lombardus, Glossa in epistolas beati Pauli, MS 371
Paris c. 1250
300 fols. 337 ×264 mm, parchment

This 374 × 264 mm volume, consisting of 300 parchment leaves, is one of the most precious manuscripts the Kalocsa Cathedral Library. It is decorated by 14 figural and 13 ornamental, painted and gilded initials, as well as a large number of other ones decorated with red and blue pen drawings. In addition, the body of the text is enhanced by other “decorative elements”: running heads, paragraph marks, and red lines highlighting certain parts of the text. On the basis of its wooden tablet binding and superexlibrises (family crests of its owners), this volume was in the possession of Austrians up to the middle of the 17th century. As early as 1811 it is mentioned by Márton György Kovachich in the catalogue of its current place of conservation.

Paul, the thirteenth of Christ’s apostles, was born in Tarsus around A.D. 5/10 and suffered a martyr’s death in Rome around 64/67. Besides his missionary activity, he produced an important body of literature. His letters were one of the most important sources of medieval theology. Thus they belong to that small number of rare New Testament books that were also copied in separate volumes. These thirteen letters, written to communities or private individuals, were commented by several authors during the Middle Ages. The commentary of Petrus Lombardus (c. 1095-1160) is among the most interesting and widely diffused of the commentaries. The author studied in the cathedral school of Paris, and eventually became professor there. He was one of the most outstanding scholars of scholasticism. His Sentences and Biblical exegeses were indispensable materials in university courses.

The function of this volume explains its relatively small, easily-to-handle size, and determines the nature of its decoration as well. The book only allowed room for small initials. It is logical to speculate that most copies of this work were done in Paris. It was there that the manuscript that served as the base copy was composed in the middle of the 13th century, the same manuscript from which the Kalocsa copy was derived. In this original Parisian model, the book is laid out in two-columns in which the text of the Apostle’s letter, set with larger letters, alternates – even in one and the same column – with the corresponding gloss, set with smaller print, In addition, the design calls for each letter of the Apostle to be introduced by a figural initial or a scene, while the pertinent commentary is introduced by an ornamental initial.

The Kalocsa codex also follow this design. Its peculiarity with respect to the original model is that the P initials at the beginning of the apostolic letters are not generally decorated with the author’s portrait nor an illustration alluding to a textual passage, but rather with an event from Paul’s life, conversion or death. The Parisian origins of this codex are manifested not only by its manuscript type and the calligraphy, but also by stylistic indications as well. The characters in the figural-scenic initials are displayed against a simplified background, containing only a few elements. The groupings of characters are well composed and proportioned, with an energetic and discriminate movement. The faces and the uncovered parts of the body are executed with fine lines. The clothing is depicted in a rich and expressive manner. The background of the images is usually golden, and among the colors, besides the white of the bodies, red, blue and pink dominate, characteristic of Parisian book illumination of this time. The ornamental initials are enriched by grotesque beings and leaves hidden in spiral creepers. The style and figural types of our volume are related to a manuscript of Aristotle (Geneva, Musée d’art et d’histoire de Genčve, Ms. Lat. 78). On the basis of this similarity, the Kalocsa volume can be regarded as a mid-13th century Parisian work.

Selected bibliography:

Csontosi János, Catalogus manuscriptorum... In: Magyar Könyv Szemle, 1883. 47. sz.; Radocsay Dénes-Soltész Zoltánné, Francia és németalföldi miniatúrák Magyarországon. Budapest, 1969. 11., 7. sz.; Boros István: A Kalocsai Főszékesegyházi Könyvtár kéziratkatalógusa. 1850 előtti kéziratok. Bp. 1989, 362. sz.; Boros István: A Kalocsai Főszékesegyházi Könyvtár. Bp. 1994, p. 49.; Wehli Tünde-Boros István, Bibliák Kalocsán. Kalocsa, 1996. 3. sz.; Eleen, L., The Illustration of the Pauline Epistles in French and English Bibles of the 12th and 13th Centuries. Oxford, 1982.


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