The manuscript Gaddi 112 preserved in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence, collects extraordinary Franciscan documents. The unique book includes a Legend and a Life of St. Francis, excerpts of Francis’ body of work called I Fioretti, his testament, the rule of the order. In addition, the manuscript contains the works of Tommaso da Celano, the Considerations on the Stigmata and his Treatise on St. Francis’ Miracles.
In this book, the reader encounters the main figures of the original Franciscan Order, finding in the text the Lives of Fra Ginepro, Leone and Egidio. Unique for the texts it contains, the manuscript is a fascinating product of Italian miniature of the late Middle Ages.
Life and Writings of Saint Francis of Assisi: History of a Manuscript made for Franciscans
The manuscript Gaddi 112 represents a fundamental witness of the vivid and intense evangelic experience of St. Francis and his first followers. We have evidence that the book was made for the Franciscan environment and was kept among Franciscans.
A note of possession written on folio 170 of the manuscript explains that the manuscript was completed on 29 December 1427, and that the book belonged the Franciscan Tertiary Sisters of Foligno.
The manuscript then passed on to the Biblioteca Gaddi and in 1755 to the Biblioteca Magliabecchiana. Eventually, in 1783, the book was acquired by the Biblioteca Laurenziana.
The Exceptional Franciscan Spirituality of the Manuscript
The decoration of the codex consists of 39 half-page to full-page miniatures, realized with the unusual technique of watercolored drawings. In medieval times, watercolors were considered a poor technique compared to the resistant and colorful tempera.
The decision of using watercolors might have been intentional for the Franciscan context in which the manuscript was produced. The poor aspect of the miniature is in line with the poverty that St. Francis experienced and taught.
The miniatures have been once attributed to the Florentine workshop of Bicci di Lorenzo. However, it is probable that the decoration was made in the Umbrian environment, close to the monastery of Sant’Onofrio and to the Franciscan Tertiary Sisters of Foligno, the former owners of the book.
The entire manuscript, its text and images express a profound Franciscan spirituality. The relevance of the manuscript for the Franciscans suggests the hypothesis that the scribe and the illuminator could have been friars of the Franciscan order.
We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Life and Writings of Saint Francis of Assisi": San Francesco d'Assisi, la vita e le opere facsimile edition, published by ArtCodex, 210