Die Bibel des Patricius Leo
- Publisher / Year
- Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1988
- Limited edition:
Reg. gr.1 B - Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Bible of Leo the Patrician
Bibel des Patricius Leo
Vatican Greek Bible
Bible of Queen Christine of Sweden
Reginensis Graecus 1
1,134 pages / 41.0 x 27.0 cm
Leo the Patrician (Leo Patrikios)
13 miniature pages
Queen Christine of Sweden
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.
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.
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.
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.