(Italy, ca. 1150). 406 x 273 mm. (16 x 10 3/4"). Double column, 42 lines in a fine rounded early proto-gothic hand.

Recto with a pleasing three-line red initial. Formerly used in a binding and consequently a bit soiled and trimmed at the head with loss of the first line, perhaps 100 or so small wormholes in the margin (only a few causing trivial harm to the text), a faint grayish stain affecting a couple of words in the top 20 lines of one column on each side, but the entirety of the text completely clear and the stately leaf quite fresh and unusually well-preserved in general for a recovered specimen.

This leaf comes from a very large copy of one of the major texts by one of the great popes of the early Middle Ages. Dealing (in part) with the central occurrence in the salvation of humanity, the text here treats of John 20:19-31, which tells of the risen Christ's appearance to the Apostles. Doubting Thomas insists on touching the Lord's wounds before he will be convinced of the Resurrection. Gregory tells his audience that Thomas was healed of unbelief, and so must they be, although they cannot see Jesus in the flesh as did Thomas. Written ca. 593, Pope Gregory's 40 homilies on the Gospels enjoyed enduring popularity throughout Medieval times, as they offered ordinary Christians practical guidance on applying the lessons of the Gospels to their own lives. Elected pope in 590, Gregory (ca. 540-604) was one of the most influential pontiffs in the history of the Church. In addition to revising liturgical worship, he wrote extensively on theology, offering homespun wisdom rather than esoteric debates. He was declared a saint immediately upon his death. The script here is regular, rounded, and very pleasing--almost soothing--to the eye. Moreover, the letters are so large (and there is so little significant damage to the leaf) that the text can be easily read from a considerable distance.