Crafted in the Montecassino Abbey around year 1087, the Barberini Exultet Roll is a fascinating example of Romanesque art from southern Italy. The manuscript was meant to be unrolled during Easter Vigil and shown to the congregation while the deacon read its text from a pulpit.
This parchment roll was used during one of the most suggestive rites of the Western Christian tradition, namely the lighting of the Paschal candle, which is celebrated every year at Easter. The candle symbolizes both Christ, who illuminates the world, and the pillar of fire that aided the Israelites during their journey by night from Egypt.
The text of the Barberini Exultet roll, written in Beneventan script, is adorned with decorated initials and frames with gold leaf, as well as ten intricately executed devotional scenes.
According to the Western Christian tradition, the Exultet chant is sung by the deacon after the lighting of the Paschal candle — it is a very joyous hymn that reminds humanity of the gifts of redemption and eternal life.