Produced in Northern France in the eleventh century, the Beauvais Sacramentary is preserved at the Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. This manuscript contains ten leaves of an Ottonian book for the Mass. The beauty of the pages and the abundant use of gold and silver are remarkable. The scene of the Crucifixion, traditional image for the celebration of the Eucharist appear in a full-page miniature with a rare purple background.
Gold and silver letters with interlace embellish the main sections of the Mass. In the seventeenth century, the manuscript was known to the canons of Beauvais Cathedral as the Missal of Roger of Champagne.
The Sacramentary was probably made for the first bishop of Beauvais, Roger of Champagne, who was mentioned in an inscription written on an earlier binding. Roger gave precious gifts to the cathedral, including the sacramentary and at least two other luxurious books.
The Beauvais Sacramentary: A Liturgical Book for Special Occasions
A book containing the prayers given by the priest at mass is called Sacramentary. In line with the definition, the Beauvais Sacramentary contains all the traditional prayers, invariable throughout the year. The surviving pages of the Sacramentary contain prayers for Easter and Ascension.
The names of Sts. Quentin and Cassien stand out in one of the prayers. This suggests that the book was used for special occasions related to these saints. The prayers refer to the consecration in 1069 of the church of the Augustinian monastery of Saint-Quentin de Beauvais.
The Work of an Italian Scribe in France
As it is usual in medieval manuscripts, the identity of the illuminator of the Beauvais Sacramentary is mysterious. What is certain is that the illuminator used precious metals for the ornament and that he was skilled both in the depiction of the human figures and the ornament.
In the Crucifixion scene he unifies the interlaced decoration with the cross creating a cohesive whole. The initial D opening the celebration of Easter displays playful figures climbing the foliate construction of the letter.
The script of the Beauvais Sacramentary has been compared with the writing of a French Gospel lectionary (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 1126), which was written by a scribe from Italy, as the colophon explains. Because of this comparison, the Beauvais Sacramentary is considered a work of an Italian scribe in France.
We have 2 facsimiles of the manuscript "Sacramentary of Beauvais":
- Das Sakramentar von Beauvais (Real Gold Edition) facsimile edition published by Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA), 2010
- Das Sakramentar von Beauvais (Normal Edition) facsimile edition published by Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA), 2010