Epistle Lectionary


Strategically located along one of the alpine passes leading to Italy, the abbey of St. Gall was favored by Carolingian rulers, who demonstrated their support through a series of privileges, allowing the monks to govern themselves independently from the local bishop. Abbot Hartmut (r. 872–83) actively fostered its cultural life, commissioning a great number of books to be written “for the communal use of the monastery.” Among them was this lectionary, illuminated in a characteristic nonfigural style. The alternating gold and silver of the manuscript’s opening initials echoes the alternating gold and silver lines of text. While these opening pages are the most prominently decorated, the manuscript contains nearly 150 decorative initials, each of which introduces a reading for Sundays and special feast days.

Epistle Lectionary, in Latin
Switzerland, St. Gall, ca. 880
The Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.91, fols. 1v–2r
Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan, 1905