Oct 23, 2012

New Manuscript for the Special Collections

The Psalms Shine Out in New Manuscript at 
Saint Martin's University

Just one of many illuminated pages from the Psalter

A copy of an illuminated medieval manuscript of the Book of Psalms has arrived at Saint Martin's University. It comes from the Spanish publishing house Moleiro.  The artisans and bookbinders at Moleiro have produced an exact copy of the Great Canterbury Psalter (also called the Anglo-Catalan Psalter). So exact is the reproduction of the Psalter that even includes the thumb smudges of the original pages and has the smell of the original  The manuscript is a gift of the Fr. Benedict Auer Poetry Endowment, which views the Psalter as a fitting testament to the power, beauty, and influence of sacred poetry. Since the original Psalter was crafted by the Benedictine monks over 800 years ago, it reflects well our University’s commitment to its Benedictine heritage. It will be on display in the O’Grady Library.

The Great Canterbury Psalter begun in Canterbury around the year 1180, but was left unfinished. In the year 1200 was taken to Catalonia (today’s northeastern corner of Spain) perhaps as gift. In mid-1300s the illumination of Psalter was completed by Catalan artists, possibly working out of Barcelona. 

The final Psalter produced in Catalonia includes three parallel columns of texts written in Latin, Hebrew, and Catalan. The gifted Catalan artists also added illuminated scenes from the Old and New Testaments at the beginning of the Psalter. The manuscript measures 20” by 14”, has 356 pages with 140 miniatures embellished with real gold, and includes 190 ornamental letters upon gold backgrounds. The Great Canterbury Psalter is truly a book to behold.

Fr. Peter Tynan, OSB
Special Collections Librarian
Saint Martin's University

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