An Enormous and Visually Impressive Tribute to Martyrs

(Italy, ca. 1140). 495 x 345 mm. (19 1/2 x 13 1/2). Double column, 51 lines, in an early proto-gothic hand.

Rubricated capitals at text divisions, WITH A LARGE CAPITAL "T" in red and yellow with white vine tendril decoration. Insignificant soiling, a little wrinkling of no consequence at one lower corner, a small snag at very bottom, but A MOST ATTRACTIVE LEAF IN BEAUTIFUL CONDITION.

This striking early specimen features a vibrantly colored opening initial, a prominent top line in contrasting black and orange, and an elegant, early book hand. The text comes from the Passio agaunensium martyrum of Eucherius of Lyons  ( Migne,P. L. 50, 827-832).  Eucherius was an important fifth-century bishop of Lyons, who died probably in 449, and this work concerns the legend of the martyrdom of St. Maurice and the 6600 Christian soldiers of the Theban Legion near Aqaunum (modern St-Maurice-en-Valais in Switzerland) as ordered by the emperor Maximium. The church there was an important center of medieval pilgrimage and has today an impressive collection of valuable medieval reliquaries. Given the scale of the manuscript from which this leaf comes, the church paying for the work could only have been of considerable importance.