León, Archivio Capitular de la Real Colegiata de San Isidoro, Ms. 2

Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore Facsimile Edition

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One of the most important surviving medieval manuscripts, the Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore, also known as the Bible of León, is a priceless source of information about the transmission of text and image in early Medieval Europe. Created at the Monastery of SS Peter and Paul Valeránica in Tordómar, Spain, it was completed on 19 June 960 by the scribe Sanctius and his master, Florencio. It contains the complete text of the Vulgate Bible as well as numerous marginalia in Old Latin and Arabic written in a Visigothic cursive script.

The large tome has eighty Old Testament illustrations placed within its two columns of text. This practice reflects the use of images in early Christian scrolls and books and suggests the models for the Codex Biblicus Legionensis reach back into late antiquity. This makes this manuscript a vital source of information about early book illumination, the original sources of which have not survived.

Iconic of the Visigothic style, it blends disparate iconographic and textual sources. Its complete biblical text and commentaries coupled with extensive illumination make this manuscript among the most important produced during the European medieval period. For more information on the Beatus model, read our blog article by Amy R. Miller (PhD, Medieval Art History, University of Toronto).

A Link to Early Christianity

The text in this is ultimately drawn from a variety of sources, as evidenced by the irregular use of illustrations in different books. The in-column illuminations seen in the Old Testament look back to the earliest codex traditions, themselves developed from scrolls.

It is among the earliest of the illustrated Spanish bibles and thus has a closer connection to its source material, which would date from the fourth through eighth centuries. Few complete books from this tumultuous period survive making the Bible of León an especially important survival for understanding the development of Christian texts in Europe.

Combines Styles from Many Cultures

The Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible is a hybrid of styles from many different cultures. Models for the iconography of the Old Testament illustrations are drawn from various sources that include Sasanian silver, Insular interlace, Carolingian evangelist portraits, and northern Spanish Beatus commentaries.

With this last, it is unusual that despite some heavily illustrated books in the Old Testament, the book of Revelation is not illustrated, suggesting this text was not copied from the contemporary and famously illustrated Beatus Apocalypse manuscript tradition.

Florencio, Maker of Great Books

A decorated colophon at the end of the Bible of León records the exact date of completion, the 19th of June in 960, and the two men responsible for its creation: a priest name Sanctius, the scribe, and the master, Florencio. They are depicted toasting one another for their great achievement.

Florencio produced six existing manuscripts and an additional seven donation charters after he moved to northern Spain from the Arabic south. He is one of the most prolific known manuscript masters of the Carolingian period.

We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore": Biblia Visigótica Mozárabe de San Isidoro facsimile edition, published by Fundación Hullera Vasco-Leonesa, 1999

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Manuscript book description compiled by Amy R. Miller.
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Biblia Visigótica Mozárabe de San Isidoro

León: Fundación Hullera Vasco-Leonesa, 1999

  • Commentary (Spanish) by Vinayo Gonzàlez, Antonio; Alvarez Àlvarez, Cesar; Torres Sevilla, Margarita; Ruiz Asencio, José M.; Caverò Dominguez, Gregoria; Diaz y Diaz, Manuel C.; García Lobo, Vicente; Suàrez Gonzàlez, Ana I.; Dominguez Sànchez, Santiago; alii
  • Limited Edition: 640 copies
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible of St. Isidore: the facsimile attempts to replicate the look-and-feel and physical features of the original document; pages are trimmed according to the original format; the binding might not be consistent with the current document binding.

Even the smallest details of the original document appear in the copy, including the original holes, deteriorated edges, seams, etc. Chromatic precision has been achieved in the shades of the miniatures and the parchment. A Heidelberg machine of the latest generation of Speed Master was used for the printing, employing up to 8 colors on the sheets where needed, with special embossing of the golds, using inks of maximum quality and durability. The paper chosen for the printing of such a beautiful manuscript merited a preliminary study on the part of technicians and manufacturers. A parchment-like preparation was finally decided on, specially designed and produced for this edition with a mean volume of 200gr/m2. The commentary volume to the facsimile edition, a widely illustrated work, includes an exhaustive study on all the particulars of the manuscript.

Joint edition by Ediciones Lancia, S.A., Fundación Hullera Vasco-Leonesa, Universidad de León and Real Colegiata de San Isidoro.


The binding was done by craftsmen, stitched by hand with raw thread and hemp cord, and given a rounded spine and headbands of thread and cords. The covers, covered in leather taken from the butt of the hide, have been tooled with motifs from the Bible itself. Both front and back covers have corner-pieces of sterling silver and a silver clasp serves as fastener. The facsimile comes in an elegant fine wood case. When opened, the case becomes a bookrest-display.

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approx US$ 10,227

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