Martyrologium of Wandalbert of Prum

Cod. Reg. lat. 438 - Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)

Alternate Titles:

Reichenauer Martyrologium für Kaiser Lothar I., Martyrologium von Wandalbet von Prüm

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Reichenauer Martyrologium für Kaiser Lothar I.
Martyrologium von Wandalbet von Prüm

Type
Extent / Format

72 pages / 19.0 x 14.2 cm

Origin
Date
After 855
Style
Genre
Content

Literature

Language
Artist / School

Author: Wandalbert von Prum

Illustrations

12 full-page miniatures

Former owners

Probably dedicated to Louis the German

Short description

The Martyrologium of Wandalbert of Prum was produced around 855 for Emperor Lothar I. The work was composed by the well-educated Benedictine monk Wandalbert of Prum, who is responsible for some of the most beautiful liturgical manuscripts of the Early Middle Ages. The Martyrologium contains, along with a directory of the saints’ feast days, a calendar poem, which depicts medieval rural life according to the progress of the year.

Facsimile editions available

Description

Martyrologium of Wandalbert of Prum

In around 839, the most important monastery to the Carolingians was the Benedictine abbey at Prum. At this time the highly educated monk Wandalbert was in this abbey. Not much is known about Wandalbert’s life. He was a deacon, influential theologian, and the most significant poet of the Prum monastery. High ecclesiastical officials had such great regard for the poet that they regularly commissioned him in the composition of splendid Latin manuscripts and set no financial limits on him for the design. Among these valuable manuscripts is the Martyrologium of Wandalbert of Prum. This treasure is the Benedictine monk’s most famous work.

What is a Martyrologium?

A martyrologium is a register of martyrs and other saints, most with statements about the circumstances of their life and the manner of their death. Since at least the 4th century, there were calendars with the festivals of the martyrs that were worshiped in individual local churches. Out of the assortment of such martyr catalogs emerged the Martyrologia, which listed the martyrs and saints of the entire church along with the site of their grave or their enshrinement. The individual entries were augmented since the Middle Ages with particulars from the life of the saint.

A Martyrologium for the King

The Martyrologium of Wandalbert was completed between 848 and 855. The liturgical calendar of saints is written in verse and was made for Emperor Lothar I. The Carolingian Lothar I was the son of Louis the Pious and his wife Irmingard. He was king of the Bavarians, the Lombards, and Roman Emperor until his death in 855. He died at the Prum Abbey, his mortal remains were buried in the abbey church. The martyrologium was made in memory of the king.

Splendid Book Decoration

The text of the martyrologium was composed in Latin Hexameter. The main part of the work patterns the poetry on feast days of the saints. The actual martyrologium was accompanied by a calendar poem, which tells about the everyday affairs of life in the 9th century. The poem deals with the months and seasons. It describes the simple rural life, which is determined by the progress of the year. The hunt, fishing, orchards, and vineyards were depicted according to the cycle of the year. The manuscript is furnished with 12 full page, colorful miniatures. The illustrations, in an engaging naïve Carolingian style, are richly ornamented with gold. The pictures depict typical monthly scenes, for example the picture for the month of July shows a farmer with a scythe. The martyrologium is a valuable work of early medieval book art and is simultaneously a reliable historical source.

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