Legende de Saint Voult de Lucques

Pal. lat. 1988 - Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)

Alternate Titles:

La Leyenda de la Santa Faz, Die Legende des Heiligen Anlitz

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Alternate Titles

La Leyenda de la Santa Faz
Die Legende des Heiligen Anlitz

Extent / Format

96 pages / 35.0 x 24.0 cm


27 miniatures

Short description

The Legend of the Holy Face is a codex originating from Paris ca. 1410. It is not known who designed the codex nor who commissioned it. The precious manuscript tells the story of the image of Christ that, according to legend, was crafted by an angel. It is embellished with gorgeous Gothic illustrations.

Facsimile editions available


Legende de Saint Voult de Lucques

A manuscript in the Gothic style, whose patron and master remain anonymous up to today, originated ca. 1410 in France, probably in the capital city of Paris. The mysterious manuscript deals with the Legend of the Holy Face, a widely-disseminated story in the Middle Ages concerning the veneration of Jesus Christ. 27 superb, richly furnished miniatures illustrate the masterful codex.

A Wondrous Tale

Nicodemus is supposed to be the last man who saw Jesus Christ before his death. He decided to make a sculpture of Jesus and left just the face to be completed the following day. When Nicodemus woke up in the morning, he found the sculpture completed – according to legend it was the angels who finished it. At first, Nicodemus decided to hide the sculpture because the Christians were being persecuted. Centuries later during his travels in the Holy Land, a pilgrim from Lucca had a dream about the sculpture and the place where it was hidden, and so decided to find it and then put it on a ship in order to save the sculpture. In doing so, he put it to sea in an unoccupied ship as guided by providence. The sculpture arrived in Luni, Italy and its ownership was quickly contested between the citizens of Lucca – the city where the sculpture was supposed to be delivered – and Luni, where it actually arrived. Eventually, the sculpture was brought to Lucca, where it resides today, making it the third most important pilgrimage town in Europe after Lourdes and Vatican City.

Splendid Illumination

The work by an anonymous master is furnished with miniatures that are counted among the most beautiful images of Gothic illumination. The stunning, intoxicating depictions illustrate the legend’s events in luminous colors. The first miniature of the luxurious manuscript shows a man and a woman kneeling before the image that was crafted by the hands of an angel. This undoubtedly is the noble owner of the valuable codex. The precious original edition of the literary masterpiece is stored today in the Vatican Library.

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