Leo Bible

Reg. gr.1 B - Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)

Alternate Titles:

Bible of Leo the Patrician, Bibel des Patricius Leo, Regina Bible, Vatican Greek Bible, Regina Bible, Bible of Queen Christine of Sweden, Reginensis Graecus 1

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Alternate Titles

Bible of Leo the Patrician
Bibel des Patricius Leo
Regina Bible
Vatican Greek Bible
Regina Bible
Bible of Queen Christine of Sweden
Reginensis Graecus 1

Extent / Format

1,134 pages / 41.0 x 27.0 cm

Around 925-950

Leo the Patrician (Leo Patrikios)


13 miniature pages

Former owners

Queen Christine of Sweden

Short description

The Leo Bible of Leo Patrikios was produced around the middle of the 9th century and is the oldest Byzantine picture bible. The work contains 13 iconic miniatures in color with gold elements. The valuable bible scenes are among the earliest pictorial depictions of the saints in Christendom that still exist today.

Facsimile editions available


Leo Bible

In the late 9th or early 10th century, Leo Patrikios, the highest chamberlain and treasurer of Byzantium, commissioned a biblical manuscript in Greek. The illustrated work is the earliest transmission of a Byzantine picture bible. The manuscript, written in highly-valuable Greek script, contains 13 full page, iconic miniatures. A true book treasure has survived the centuries.

Original Book Art

The Leo Bible originates from a court scriptorium in Constantinople. Gifted masters meticulously fleshed out the Greek script and valuable miniatures. The pictures are counted among the first painted bible scenes that were ever produced. Only by the middle of the 9th century had the destruction of depictions of Christian saints in the course of the iconoclasm ended and the ban on pictures in Christianity been lifted. The bible pictures show graceful, iconic scenes from the lives of important biblical figures, a few miracles of Jesus Christ, and pictures of the veneration of Leo Patrikios.

Graceful Bible Scenes

The valuable miniatures of the work shine in a splendid variety of colors and are ennobled with expensive gold decoration. The opening scenes of the bible show an icon of the Virgin Mary, who in Greek is called Theotokos or “God-bearer”. In this scene, Leo Patrikios presents the bible manuscript to the Mother of God, who presents it to her son in typically iconic fashion. This and other awe-inspiring pictures take the modern beholder back into a long-gone age. Today the Leo Bible is housed in the Vatican Library.

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