St. Peter Pericopes from St. Erentrud

Clm 15903 - Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)

Alternate Titles:

Perikopenbuch von St. Peter, Perikopenbuch aus St. Erentrud in Salzburg, Evangelia in missa legi solita, praecedente capitulari evangeliorum

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Alternate Titles

Perikopenbuch von St. Peter
Perikopenbuch aus St. Erentrud in Salzburg
Evangelia in missa legi solita, praecedente capitulari evangeliorum


Manuscript on parchment

Extent / Format

212 pages / 31.0 x 22.0 cm


Monastery of St. Peter, Salzburg (Austria)

Around 1150

Romanesque / Byzantine


Liturgical Manuscripts




55 miniature paintings (33 of which full-page compositions), 6 pages with a listing of the 71 pericope sections, 1 full-page initial, 81 anthropomorphic and scrollwork initials. The illumination is painted in body colours and silver on a golden ground. Sc

Former owners

Benedictine convent of Saint Erentrud (Nonnberg)

Short description

With 55 legendary, colorful miniatures set against a gold background, as well as 81 mostly anthropomorphic gold initials, the St. Peter Pericopes boasts the richest image program of a high-medieval evangeliary. The 12th century manuscript unfolds a decorative program across 106 pages that is without equal. More than half of the miniatures that precede the readings for such high holidays as Christmas, Easter, or the feast days of the saints and the Virgin Mary are full-page. The manuscript’s kinship with older works from the scriptorium of St. Peter in Salzburg is manifest in the conjunction of Byzantine principles of style with visual themes from western example.

Facsimile editions available


St. Peter Pericopes from St. Erentrud

55 colorful miniatures on a gold background – and the richest image program of a high medieval evangeliary manuscript to boot – as well as 81 mostly anthropomorphic gold initials with bright flowers and tendrils, so reads the fact sheet of the mid-12th century St. Peter Pericopes, which is stored under the shelf mark Clm 15903 in the Bavarian State Library in Munich. A pictorial and decorative program that is both quantitatively and qualitatively the peer of any other reveals itself to the beholder across 106 folios of the St. Peter Pericopes. Of the miniatures that are arranged before the readings for the Christmas and Easter cycles, the miracles and resurrection of Christ, and the feast days for the Virgin Mary and saints, as well as the Feast of the Finding and Veneration of the Cross, well over half are full-page. Broad, rectangular frames with ornamented fillings between strips of gold and silver trim the biblical scenes like panel paintings. Precious gold leaf makes up the backgrounds of these large-figured scenes, which are executed in powerful, off-color opaque paints. Individual architectural elements and indications of landscapes help to locate the events. Dignified figures dominate the symmetrical image composition. Lifelike mimicry and glances with big eyes connect them with one another and thus simultaneously convey the content of the image and its emotional expression. The close relationship of our manuscript to the older works from the scriptorium of St. Peter is manifest in the connection of Byzantine principles of style with visual themes from western examples and the practice of plastically modelling the bodies of the figures with the help of color shading.

A World in Initials

Another way that the St. Peter Pericopes distinguishes itself is with its fantastical initial embellishment. An initial stands at the beginning of each pericope – either as an individual letter, or often as a part of a group of initials forming a connection between both of the initial letters and the actual text of the pericope. The gilded corpus of each letter is wrapped with vines, whose offshoots end in bright buds and blooms. Individual parts of the letters are replaced in countless variations by living creatures – mostly animals – that lend the manuscript a sanguine note.

Eu Angelion – the Good News in Word and Pictures

Pericope books contain every selection (pericope) from the Gospels that is chosen as a reading for the individual Sundays and feast days of the liturgical year. Of the 71 pericopes in this manuscript, no less than 55 are introduced by miniatures. Their function is not limited to illustrating the relevant text, instead they visually reiterate it. What is more, the narrative horizon is additionally broadened and interpreted with the help of iconographic devices. An example thereof is the miniature of Jesus among the scholars, in which the 12 year old boy is depicted as a grown, bearded man. This device helps to overcome the time continuum as well as foreshadowing the role of Christ as the Messiah. Such surprising pictorial solutions appear throughout the entire manuscript. They serve the overall textual concept, in which Christ is presented as the Annointed, the Savior – the Messiah.

A Romanesque Masterpiece Formerly in the Collection of St. Erentrud in Salzburg

Widely referred to in scholarly literature by the name Book of Pericopes from St. Erentrud, the codex’s name comes from the Benedictine convent on Salzburg’s Nonnberg. A note from the late 13th or early 14th century on folio 104v in the manuscript verifies that the codex belonged to the convent’s collection by that time at the latest. Yet, St. Erentrud is neither the place of origin nor the destination of the pericope book. The Salzburgian provenance of the manuscript is uncontested. Not only is this indicated by the content, such as repeated references to St. Rupert, who not only founded the bishopric of Salzburg and was its first bishop, but is also venerated as the founder of the Benedictine monasteries of St. Peter and St. Erentrud. The close artistic affinity to codices originating undoubtedly from Salzburg indicates that the pericope book came from a local scriptorium. Of the three scriptoria that were active in Salzburg in the mid-12th century (the cathedral scriptorium, the scriptorium of the Petersfrauen, and that of St. Peter), only one can be considered the place of origin for reasons of style, iconography, and content – the scriptorium of St. Peter.

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