The Messale Borgia, also called the Messale " de’ Medici", is one of the most significant liturgical manuscripts of the 15th century. For the first time ever the missal has been taken out of the archives of the Curia Archivescovile di Chieti, where it has been kept for centuries. An authentic work of art enriched by splendid miniatures which, in addition to the artistic and religious aspects, reveale a rare iconographic testimony of historical and cultural events of particular interest for the period represented.
A work of art worthy of the Pope
The Messale Borgia was commissioned at the end of the 15th century by Giovanni Borgia, cousin of Pope Alexander VI, to celebrate his nomination of cardinal, and it represent one of the first Sunday missals written acording to the standards of the cerimonial procedures of 1488. For the importance of its function, the missal had to be written by expert calligraphers and richly decorated: an authentic masterpiece of illuminated miniatures. It is said that the missal was once part of the codeices in the Sistine Chapel, exclusively reserved for the Pope, cardinals and high prelates of the Church for solemn mass sung in the papal chapel.
A jewel of the Medici family
The manuscript was so beautiful and particular that, once the two Borgias past away, Cardinal Guido de’ Medici, cousin of Pope Clement VII, chose it as his own missal and wanted the prestigious symbol of his family to be inserted on the cover of the volume over the place of the Borgia symbol. When he became the Archbishop of Chieti, Guido de’ Medici brought the codex in this city of the Abruzzi where it was preserved for centuries.
From the Pinturicchio craftman’s studio
The worth of an antique manuscript owes much to the beauty and the value of the miniatures, small jewels of art often produced by the same artists who are now famous throughout history. The Messale Borgia was decorated by four different masters helped by various collaborators who seem to have belonged to the Umbrian school represented in Rome at the last decade of the 1400’s by the Pinturicchio studio.