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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

CLA/Lowe, vHMML, Films, and all that

 As many of my readers will know, HMML (the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library; started a two-year project nearly three months ago to create a suite of tools known as vHMML (or "virtual HMML"; find more details about the project at:  Within the scope of this project is the development of image galleries and tutorials to aid students and scholars working with early scripts and manuscripts.

Sixth-century Uncial fragment from the Historisches Archiv der Stadt Koeln (Germany--HMML 37172)--CLA 1171.

Integral to this project is access to images of actual scripts and early materials.  To that end, HMML has been digitizing and identifying a large number of manuscripts and manuscript fragments from its own collections, so that these can be made available online.  We have also searched through our digital files to make materials more accessible to scholars and the general public, including the addition of over 18,000 color images from our microfilm collection ( However, most of our microfilm is not in color, but black-and-white.

Recto of sixth-century fragment in Uncial script from Goettweig Abbey (Austria--HMML 3791)--CLA **1286a.

Verso of sixth-century fragment in Uncial script from Goettweig Abbey (Austria--HMML 3791)--CLA **1286a.

The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library started in 1965 with the primary mission to preserve manuscripts and manuscript culture through photographic means.  Over the past 47 years HMML has assembled one of the largest collections of manuscript images in the world (over 90,000 manuscripts on microfilm and more than 30,000 digitally photographed). It was back to this collection that I turned to identify potential candidates for the study of early Western manuscripts.  While HMML does not have a huge number of Latin manuscripts earlier than the tenth century, there are an interesting examples from the fifth to ninth centuries in Uncial, Pre-Caroline, Caroline, and other scripts. Today I would like to present some of these in scaled-down versions from the HMML microfilms.

The first issue to address was the quick identification of early manuscripts.  The most famous (and useful) resource for early Latin scripts is a collection assembled over several decades by Elias Avery Lowe (1879-1969), whose Codices Latini Antiquiores ("CLA") is the first stop for Latin paleographers still today.  Over the course of eleven volumes plus a supplement, Lowe recorded and produced samples from early Latin manuscripts from across Europe and beyond. Due to the constraints of the day when his volumes were produced, the CLA only has tightly cropped samples that do not include the entire fragment, much less complete manuscripts when they exist.

Irish majuscule in a fragment from the
Historisches Archiv der Stadt Koeln (Germany--HMML 36463)--CLA 1169.

So, I first turned to Lowe to find what HMML has (in the microfilms that it produced) that might be useful.  The bulk of the examples were found to be from Austria, Germany, Spain, England, and Switzerland.  However, digitization projects in Cologne (at the Cathedral Library) and Switzerland (including Einsiedeln Abbey) had already reduced the need for HMML to digitize some of the microfilms from these libraries.  On the other hand, many other libraries have not yet had the opportunity to digitize their collections, and HMML's films may here provide some useful sources for study.

CLA 1457 - eighth-century Uncial and minuscule from St. Paul im Lavanttal (Austria; HMML 12518).

CLA 1457 - from St. Paul im Lavanttal (Austria; HMML 12518).

From the Abbey of Saint Paul in Lavanttal (or St. Paul in Carinthia, per Lowe), we have a complete copy of a manuscript in eighth-century Uncial.  Lowe describes the manuscript as being in both Uncial and a later continuation in minuscule (eighth to ninth century), which he does not reproduce in CLA.  HMML's films can provide samples of both hands.  HMML also has a few samples of less-common scripts, as well, such as this eighth-century one from Corbie.

CLA 1168 - Historisches Archiv der Stadt Koeln (HMML 36456)

As it turns out, I also "re-discovered" a list I compiled almost a decade ago that listed several manuscripts dated before the tenth century in the HMML collection.  Most of the Lowe/CLA manuscripts were also on this list, but some had been accidentally omitted.  So, now we have a larger list of nearly 400 early manuscripts (pre-tenth century) in the HMML microfilm collections.  While very many of these are fragments from bindings, they still represent a large corpus of scripts and hands from across Europe and could prove useful to vHMML's long-term objectives of training the next generation of manuscript scholars.

The next stage of our work will be identifying which images are most useful to vHMML.  At this time we have digitized several microfilms of early manuscripts, and will continue to scan fragments and some of the complete manuscripts.  But, as with all of our microfilms, we must ask permission from the libraries that actually own the manuscripts, before we use these images on the Web.  For this presentation, I have used a few digital copies in greatly reduced form, but for vHMML we will need to provide the images in their fullest size for the best resolution.

CLA 1364 - Anglo-Saxon script from a copy of the Gospels at the Trier Cathedral Library (Germany; HMML 40231)

Finally, there were also some manuscripts filmed partially in color during HMML's work in the microfilm era, and many of these images have been put into Vivarium ( with the blessings of the libraries that own the manuscripts.  Yet, there are still some which HMML hopes eventually to be able to include in vHMML, such as this one from cathedral in Essen (Germany):

CLA 1192 - Early Caroline minuscule from a Gospel book in Essen (Germany; HMML 35251)

As we continue to find and make use of these pictures, HMML's goal remains the preservation of manuscript culture and the promotion of manuscript studies around the world.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Where the Wild Things Aren't; or, Don't Mess Around with a Saint

The coming of Halloween is too often heralded with an overabundance of violent, gross and mass-produced images.  Ghouls, goblins, devils, etc., rise up in our collective (and mass-market) psyche, causing us to compensate by buying (and consuming) vast quantities of unneeded sugar-based products. Today, I would like to add my own eerie "ghost" story ...

Feast of All Souls (day after the Feast of All Saints.
From the Arca Artium Art Collection at Saint John's University.

For some (myself included), Halloween is just the evening before the feast of All Saints (All Hallow's Eve).  This makes it a time to remember and reflect on those who have gone before us, doing good works and making God's creation better in some way (I have to admit that my definition of "saint" is tainted a bit by more inclusive definitions, not technical ones that require evidence of "miracles").  In my case, Halloween is the start of a season to remember people who have been important in my own life--especially family members, colleagues, friends.

Today, however, I am going to step out of my usual reveries and fall into a different realm.  As I was searching for musical materials in the shelves of uncataloged materials at HMML this morning, I happened to open a book of plates dedicated to the life of Saint Theresa of Avila (1515-1582). The printer, Gio. Jacomo Rossi, was active in Rome in the 17th century. Beyond that, I have little information on these plates at this point.

"Title page" of a pictorial life of Saint Theresa of Avila, from the Arca Artium Rare Book Collection
(Saint John's University).

As with several of the uncataloged items in our collections, this one does not have a definitive "title" page (or perhaps it has the page, but not a definitive "title").  In recent months we have moved several similar "books" from the Arca Artium "book" collection to the Arca Artium "art" collection.  Many of these volumes (some in modern, some in older bindings) are gatherings of plates, sometimes removed from books, without the accompanying texts, or simply gathered up at some point as "collectibles."

In consultation with our curator for the Arca Artium Art Collection, Brother Alan Reed, OSB, these volumes have moved to the collection of unbound prints and manuscript leaves, where they can be cataloged as individual prints or series of prints, but not as books.  The Arca Artium Art Collection is largely represented in the HMML image database called Vivarium (

Of course, the first leaf I found this morning was not the picture above, of the Saint pointing at the Cross; rather, I opened it to a scene that looked freakishly too familiar.  There in front of me was Saint Theresa, wielding a cross (just like in vampire movies) and shooing demons out of her room into the closet.  What immediately came to mind, however, was Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are!

Saint Theresa of Avila ridding her apartment of demons.

Most of us baby boomers (and later generations) remember this 1964 classic about mischievous Max and his experiences with a group of "wild things" that appear in his room (see:  Max tames them and then enters into a marvelous night-time celebration with them.  After a night of carousing and dancing under the moon, Max decides to go home and leave the "wild things" behind.

Of course, no respectable Saint would go carousing with "wild things," so instead we find Theresa chasing off her demons.  However, the depictions of the demons and their poses look almost exactly like those in Sendak's own imaginings.  One demon crouches down in fear and shame before a higher power; another's pained expression demonstrates the same.  All of the demons have animal-like characteristics and long, pointed ears (sorry, Mr. Spock). I showed the scene to colleagues at the library, and they all quite readily recognized the parallels.

Saint Theresa of Avila, interceding on behalf of a priest.

Fear of the flog?

(sorry, but the little heads in the clouds kind of freak me out ...)

Indeed, other demons appear in the life of Theresa, but they have less direct parallel to those in Where the Wild Things Are.  Overcoming the evil that surrounds us (and how we represent evil in our imaginations) is a theme that has been around for millenia. Finding parallels like this between a 17th-century hagiographical work and a 20th-century children's book offers a point of departure for further reflection and study.  Perhaps these are the demons that I wrestle with?

In conclusion, I have one more question that I can't answer--yet.  The portrait of Saint Theresa (especially the expression on her face) on the "title page" looks again to me like a character I have seen in a Maurice Sendak book, but at the moment I cannot resurrect the related image from my memory.

Theresa of Avila looking up at the Holy Spirit.

Does this image have the same effect on anyone else, or is this just my own over-active imagination?  To paraphrase the words from long-ago of a curious five-year-old:  "If you had any guesses (about similar facial expressions), what would they be?"

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Starting over from scratch (or by scratching) ... Palimpsests

[As always, click on any image to see it enlarged.]

Over the past several years, the work with early palimpsests has gained international attention, especially as scholars and their technical teams have looked to ways to make such recycled manuscripts more useful to other scholars and the public.

Just last month, HMML hosted a lecture by Dr. William Noel (Schoenberg Institute of Manuscript Studies, University of Pennsylvania) on "The Archimedes Palimpsest: Revealing the Secrets of the the World's Greatest Palimpsest."

In August 2011, HMML hosted another lecture on modern techniques for exposing the contents of palimpsests from Mount Sinai, when Mike Phelps (director of the Early Manuscript Electronic Library) visited the Library.

Recently discovered palimpsest in HMML collections.

So, what exactly is a palimpsest?  Noted manuscript expert Michelle Brown defines the term as follows:

From the Greek palimpsestos ('scraped again'), a palimpsest is reused writing support material from which the underlying text has been erased (by washing in the case of PAPYRUS and by using PUMICE or other scraping devices in the case of PARCHMENT). Erasure was not always complete and an underlying text can often be read with the assistance of ultraviolet light.  (from her complete glossary on illuminated manuscripts at the British Library website:

A much later musical manuscript born out of an earlier one.
Thus, a palimpsest is a re-used piece of parchment on which some an earlier text has been scraped away to make room for a new one.  The Latin term is revealing in a slightly different way, focusing on the "re-written" aspect (rescriptus), rather than the activity of scraping. We generally hear of these manuscripts when the underlying (or older) text is something that has not come down to us in other copies, such as the Archimedes palimpsest and the famous Cicero, De Re Publica palimpsest (Vat. Lat. 5757 from the Vatican Library), discovered nearly 200 years ago.

The underlying written text appears quite clearly in this photograph.

HMML staff was delighted to learn recently that an uncataloged manuscript fragment (8 parchment leaves) appears to be just such a palimpsest, although of a decidedly more modest character than the Archimedes or Cicero manuscripts. The newer text, possibly of 18th or 19th century origin, was noticed during the process of inventorying some later manuscript fragments, pamphlets, and broadsides.

The remains of binding along the edge point to sheets from a book that was disbound and re-used. The pages are well-worn and have numerous repairs (especially along the bottom edge).  A later hand has numbered the pages (not the leaves) as follows:

[first page unnumbered], 1-3,6-9, 12-21

Repairs to the leaves and other signs of use.

Note that the versos of the leaves have odd numbers and the rectos have even numbers, due to the omission of a number on the first page. So, it is possible that another bifolium, containing pages 4-5 and 10-11 is still on our shelves somewhere.  From an initial glance at the leaves, I would guess that the underlying text is late medieval, and that the size of the leaves--together with the signs of heavy use--point to a liturgical text. Indeed, the upper text is also liturgical and largely music.  The upper text is in several hands, indicating a pattern (and possibly longer period) of re-use. 

At face value, it would appear that someone or some community decided in the 18th or 19th century that the need for updating their liturgical repertoire was more important than saving the past.  If that is the case, then this person (or persons) decided to scrape off the text, music and decoration from the parchment and start over.

It is also possible that someone undertook this "palimpsesting" to demonstrate what a palimpsest looks like.  Since we have only just identified these leaves, it is still too soon to say for certain.

In either case, this collection does offer a great opportunity to show students exactly what a palimpsest (albeit a coarsely prepared one) looks like and to talk about the activity of making books in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern world.

As such, it will now join our other samples of what people do with books over time, such as the antiphonal leaves in glass frames, the 19th-century scrapbook of medieval manuscript initials, book bindings, and (of course) our "lampshade" prepared from antiphonal leaves.  I'm sure many institutions have similar collections of manuscript "oddities," and I would love to hear about them!

Over the coming months, I hope the HMML staff will have time to investigate this palimpsest further with an eye to identifying the underlying text and provide a rough date for it.  We should not ignore the upper text either, but rather give an eye to identifying the time and place of this later "work."

Rubbing out (literally) the past.

Let's keep seeking history out there--even in the wrong (or hidden) places!


Sunday, September 30, 2012

vHMML and the Joys of a Fragmentary Existence

A manuscript fragment from nearly 1000 years ago, with settings for the Mass and musical notation.
Removed from a book binding (ergo, the "castle" shape).  Ms. Frag. 1 (Latin) in the Saint John's Collections

As always, click on any image to see a slide show of the pictures in this blog post!

Manuscripts often come to us in only small scraps of their original form.  Much of the time we find the results lamentable, or at least they prompt us to consider what has been lost.  The most common examples I have for this come from late medieval and early modern antiphonals.  These monster-sized manuscripts (sometimes 2 1/2 feet tall or more) with inch-tall letters served as a center around which a religious community would gather to sing.  Indeed, it is in this context that one wants to try to comprehend the use and importance of such manuscripts.  Antiphonals and other choir books would have been heavily used in the midst of a gathering of a community and in this way are emblematic of the very forces binding such a community together.

Thus, it is sad to see those instances where modern people (including famous art critics) have decided to destroy a book in order to keep only its "art."  For an earlier discussion of this "scrapbooking," see:

The most "artistic" of such abuse of manuscripts can be found in HMML's Bean ms. no. 3, a 19th-century example of a book made out of medieval decorated and historiated initials from various sources.  The beauty of the art that was preserved (albeit glued to much later paper stock) belies the lost context from which they have been snatched.  Similarly, antiphonal pages often come to us today individually, perhaps mounted on matte boards or behind glassed-in frames.

Ms. Frag. 15 (Latin)
A final, and somewhat sadder, example is the instance of the parchment leaves being cut in half, sewn together at the edges to form a semi-square frame, much like one end of a box kite.  Students and visitors to HMML generally recognized immediately the manuscript leaves as having been repurposed into a lampshade.

HMML has several other manuscript fragments, sometimes individual pages of books broken up, sometimes items removed from book bindings.  Today many of these fragments are taking on a new life as tools for manuscript studies.

The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library announced on September 20, 2012, that the Institute for Museum and Library Services had awarded HMML a two-year grant to develop vHMML (or "virtual HMML"), an online suite of tools to enable scholars to undertake manuscript studies in an online environment.  Full information on the project (along with a spiffy new monogram) can be found at the project blog:

HMML's manuscript fragments, including materials from various times and cultures, languages and scripts, will provide a start for the Folio Collection, a gallery of images for paleography practice and tutorials.

The items in the Folio Collection will be described thoroughly to allow students and those generally interested in reading the scripts will have direct access to their contents.

The front and back of a leaf from a glossed Bible (Ms. Frag. 19 (Latin)).

A leaf of Cicero removed from a book binding. 
Note the lines from the cover. (Ms. Frag. 3 (Latin)). 

Brief descriptions of these fragments are already available on the Special Collections Wiki for Saint John's University (  Much of this work of inventorying the collections has happened over the past two years.  Beyond the fragments in the Saint John's and HMML collections, there is also an extensive collection of manuscript fragments in the Arca Artium Collection, with photographs and minimal descriptions in HMML's image database service, Vivarium.  Many of the fragments are in languages other than Latin, providing the opportunity to study different alphabets and scripts.

12th-century leaf in Armenian (Ms. Frag. 33 (Armenian)).

Hebrew fragment from a book binding (Ms. Frag. 35 (Hebrew))

Leaf in Samaritan with later inscription on recto (Ms. Frag. 36 (Samaritan)).

All of these leaves are taking on a new life as support materials for current and future scholars to develop the necessary skills for undertaking manuscript studies and providing improved access to cultural history stored in handwriting from across the centuries and across the globe.  Through vHMML, the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (together with its project partners) seeks to support and encourage future manuscript studies.

Eventually, the Folio Collection will include sample images from manuscripts and manuscript fragments at other institutions as well.

Keep an eye out for ongoing developments with (and development of) vHMML and its components!

Ms. Frag. 8 (Latin)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Manna from the HMML basement (so to speak)

Caveat lector: the following posting originally appeared in 2011 in a predecessor blog to Books from the HMML Basement. I am "re-cycling" this so that it will be included in the new blog.

Manna does not always come from Heaven

“In the evening quail appeared and covered the camp; in the morning there was a fall of dew about the camp. When the fall of dew lifted, there, over the surface of the wilderness lay a fine and flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it they said to one another, “What is it?”—for they did not know what it was.” (Exodus 16: 13-15; from the Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures (Philadelphia; Jerusalem: The Jewish Publication Society, 1985))

Over the past seven years the staff at the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library has cataloged nearly 9000 titles in its rare printed book collections. Now, with about 98% of the printed book collections cataloged, my attention has turned increasingly to our “hidden” collections. My periodic visits to the rare book room often elicit what I have come to call the “Manna experience.” This happens every time one is confronted with a new and unidentified item in the collection. The first question is always, “What is it?” Over the past few months the HMML staff has had many “Manna experiences.”

Recent ones include:

  • 1940’s newspapers in English from Manila (during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines);
  • A small set of documents relating to the sale of slaves in New Orleans from the 1850’s;
  • Collections of barely identified engravings taken from books (for which we have no text);
  • A collection of written materials with signatures from “famous” historical figures;
  • A collection of broadsides, chiefly in Italian, with some French;
  • A bookplate (“exlibris”) collection from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“Hail Marie Antoinette”

Each time we find one of these sets (sometimes in boxes labeled simply “manuscripts” or not labeled at all) we are immediately invited back into the unwritten history of the collections at Saint John’s, and we find we have to work through several stages:

  • Identify the material (“What is it?”);
  • Inventory the material;
  • Identify its source, if possible (gift? purchase?);
  • Identify potential users for newly discovered material;
  • Eventually document them through cataloging and (sometimes) digital photography
  • Market the collection to potential users (and use them ourselves for teaching).
Analogous to the Israelites in the wilderness, however, we often find that these unidentified materials become a source of nutrition—in this case educational or scholarly nutrition (food for the mind?). The newspapers from Manila provide an English-language source for an “official” Japanese view of World War II—a promising resource for students at Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s to learn about an alternative view of the war’s progression. The slave documents (mostly in French) provide insight into a period of American history that one does not expect to find in Central Minnesota. In the autograph collection were signed documents from Louis XIV of France (the “Sun King”), King Ludwig II of Bavaria (aka “mad King Ludwig”), and Pope Julius II (who hired Michelangelo to paint a certain chapel ceiling in the Vatican).

Louis XVI’s autograph

Today I would like to focus on just one of these “Manna experiences”: the Jude Koll collection of broadsides and manuscript materials from Italy. We are not certain when these materials came to Saint John’s, but it is believed that Jude Koll, OSB (1914-1997), purchased them in Italy decades ago. From 1994 until now the collection has been housed in seven boxes and had apparently not been opened for several years. The only “access” to the collection was a handwritten set of cards with minimal data on each item.

Phil Mulvaney sorting the collection

For the past several months, a volunteer at the Library—Phil Mulvaney—has been inventorying the collection, while also attempting to provide some minimal identification of each one. We quickly determined that the existing order for the collection had no relevance to the collection’s contents. So now he is re-arranging them and documenting them in a file for later use. The collection spans the 16th to the 19th centuries, but the vast bulk of the collection comes from two key periods in Italian history: 1790-1815 (during the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars) and the 1840’s and 1850’s (the period of the third Roman Republic).

“Broadside” refers to a sheet printed not to be folded into pages, but as one large page, generally single-sided, that would end up roughly equivalent to what we today call a “poster.” In an era of political upheaval and before the advent of radio, television or any other means of instantaneous mass communication, the broadside was the best way to get laws promulgated, call for the defense of the homeland, or pass on information about cattle diseases. At this point, we cannot say if any of the gathering of broadsides, manuscripts and pamphlets represents a unique copy of a particular document.

Various materials to be sorted

One small sample from the Italian Broadside collection may be of interest here: a handwritten collection of “prayers” in French, dated “Xmbre 1789” or December 1789. These “New morning and evening prayers for the good French people” (“Nouvelles prières du matin et du soir à l’usage de tous les bons françois”) purport to be revised versions of the Our Father, Hail Mary, Creed, and Confiteor. In the Creed we read:
“Je crois à Loüis XVI, mon seul et legitime souverain, Roi de France et de Navarre, et au Dauphin son fils unique, notre futur Maître ....” [“I believe in Louis XVI, my one true sovereign, King of France and Navarre, and in his only begotten son, the Dauphin, our future Master ...”]
New Prayers in French

One finds that the other “prayers” also contain references to Marie Antoinette (“Je vous salüe Marie Antoinette pleine de grace ...”) and the Tuileries Palace (Notre Pére qui étes aux Thuilleries ...”). In other words, we have a set of satirical prayers in French, ostensibly dated to the time of the beginnings of the French Revolution. A quick search on the Internet has not yet turned up these same words, although it seems likely that they may also appear elsewhere. Perhaps an enterprising student out there would like to transcribe and translate these? Or perhaps turn this into a research project on the use of satirical prayers during the French Revolution?

The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years, sustained by the gift of Manna from Heaven. We certainly hope that it won’t take forty years to answer all of our “What is it?” questions, but we do hope that the materials we are opening up to the world will provide fresh paths of research for present and future scholars.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Manuscript, Print and Benedictines: a brief tour

Benedict with Placid and Maur from the earliest copy of the Rule of Benedict (1501) in the Saint John's Collections.  This copy in Italian was printed in Venice by Lucantonio Giunta.

In a couple days I will be attending a pre-conference for the Library Section of the American Benedictine Academy, which is meeting at St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. I have been asked to give a short talk on the role of the Benedictines in the change from a predominantly manuscript to predominantly print culture in the 15th and 16th centuries.


Click on any image to enlarge it or view a gallery.

Note the beautiful woodcut letter "A" in "Ascholta"--Italian for "Listen"--
the first word in the Prologue to the Rule of Benedict

There are many ways that one can find the influence of the Benedictines and Benedictine traditions in the late medieval and early modern world of the book.  On the one hand, the Benedictines supported the new technology by sponsoring books (the Benedictine Psalter of 1459 comes to mind), as well as providing a haven for printers to work--in 1465 the Monastery of Subiaco was the location of the first printing undertaken in Italy and the first German edition of Gregory's Dialogues was printed at the Monastery of Saints Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg (1473).

Another copy of the Rule in the Saint John's Collections (Venice, again by Lucantonio Giunta, 1501) is in Latin and has been combined with the Life of Benedict from the second Dialogue of Gregory, as well as a set of 13th-century meditations on the Rule by Bernard, Abbot of Monte Cassino.  Both the 1501 and the 1505 (as well as the 1544) editions are extremely compact and can easily fit into a shirt pocket.  The earliest printings of the Rule start at about the same time that Venetian printers were developing the small format of books that would become their trademark (so to speak), especially with the work of Aldus Manutius in the early 16th century.

The earliest "printing" of the Rule in the SJU collections dates from 1500, and is actually within a treatise on the Rule of Benedict that incorporates also the texts of the Rule of Augustine and the Franciscan Rule.  This was also printed in Venice by Lucantonio Giunta.  It includes portraits of Benedict and his sister Scholastica (both holding books, of course), as well as a portrait of Benedict with Placid and Maur presenting his Rule to other Benedictines.

Saint John's does not have copies of the earliest editions of the Rule of Benedict, but there are copies available online at the Bavarian State Library of the editions from 1485/90 in German, 1489/90 in Latin, and 1507 in Latin.  They also have a color digital reproduction of an early 15th-century copy of the Rule from Metten Abbey in Bavaria.  These are all worthy of a look and I will provide a link at the bottom of this posting.

Also of interest is Gregory's Dialogues, which contains the earliest witness to the life of Benedict.  The first edition, available online from our online image service, Vivarium, appeared in Strassburg in 1472.  You can view the entire book at:

First page of the 1475 Dialogues
in Italian translation.
Title page of the 1509
French edition.
However, just like with the Rule of Benedict, the Dialogues very quickly appeared also in vernacular editions, both in German and in Italian, and not long after in French.  Saint John's has a copy of the 1475 Italian edition, as well as a 1509 printing in French.  The latter has a curious portrait of Gregory as its frontispiece.

Portrait of Gregory the Great from the
1509 French translation of his Dialogues.

Most of these works will eventually be added to HMML's online image service, Vivarium.  Right now there are copies of the 1520 Rule of Benedict and the 1472 Dialogues in Latin.  We also have two pictorial biographies of Benedict (from 1587 and 1596) in the online collections.  However, we will soon add complete copies of the 1501, 1505 and 1544 editions of the Rule.  We plan eventually to add further Benedictine works as we can, so keep watching Vivarium for new titles!

Finally, I would like to point readers to the resources of the Bavarian State Library, which maintains a tremendous amount of Benedictine material among its other digital collections.  Along with the copies of the Rule mentioned above, there are also versions of Gregory's Dialogues from 1473 and 1476 (in German), as well as Latin editions from 1477, 1480 and 1496.  There is also a very compact edition of the Vita Benedicti (excerpted from the Dialogues) that was published by Bernardino Benali in 1490.  The web address for the Bavarian State Library digital collections is:

From HMML's image service, Vivarium, the title page of the
1520 Rule of Benedict, printed in Florence.