Saint-Johanner Codex

Jánossomorja (Jánossomorja, Hungary)

Alternate Titles:

Sankt-Johanner Kodex, Mosonszentjanosi Kodex

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Alternate Titles

Sankt-Johanner Kodex
Mosonszentjanosi Kodex

Extent / Format

624 pages / 30.0 x 23.0 cm

Artist / School

Johann Anton Lang


51 illustrations

Facsimile editions available


The Saint-Johanner Codex is an important document of german protestant heritage in Jánossomorja, Hungary. Even about a hundred years ago, this book was to be found in almost every german protestant household, containing the prayers of the family. It can be considered as a 17-18 century linguistic monument.

A remarkable 19th century codex

“Der Sankt-Johanner Kodex” of Jánossomorja, Hungary is a remarkable 19th century codex of the protestant german minority of Hungary.
It could already be a surprise for many people, specially in the US, that there is a significant number of protestants living in Hungary, not to talk about the fact that many of them belong to german speaking minorities. I’m sure that people will also be surprised to hear that at the end of the 16th century 80-90% of the inhabitants of historic Hungary were Protestant. And Hungary was not alone in the region: Poland, now the most Catholic country in the area, was solidly Protestant, too. The written heritage of the german population of Jánossomorja is a famous cultural heritage of the Moson region.

The “Der Sankt-Johanner Kodex” is a highly significant handwritten codex, that was written for the family, for everyday use. The father would read from the book to the children and to the family on Sundays. It contains prayers and songs, notes referring to important events in the family, secular tales and even recipes. The prayer book that this codex was based on could have been found in every protestant german household even about a hundred years ago. Its genre is closest to the so called Biblia pauperum (“Paupers’ Bible”) a tradition of picture Bibles beginning in the later Middle Ages.

The writer and illustrator

The “Der Sankt-Johanner Kodex” is the work of Johann Anton Lang, and was written and illustrated in 1809 and it is considered to be the most beautifully decorated and most precious example of its kind. The illustrations were painted with paint mixed with egg white, which enables them to shine with very vivid colors. It was bounded in wood and leather, contains 569 pages decorated with 51 illustrations. The images are not only beautiful but tell a lot about the life of the people, the way they dressed and lived their lives, raising the importance of the codex as a source of local history.

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