Special Collections

Vatican Film Library Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts

The Vatican Film Library’s collection of original manuscripts currently numbers 61 separate items, comprising 126 individual leaves, 3 documents, and 8 codices. The totality represents a variety of works produced from the thirteenth through the twentieth centuries in western Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. These include examples of Christian devotional or liturgical texts (Bibles, books of hours, missals, breviaries, antiphonaries, and saints’ lives), texts of canon and Roman law, and a considerable number of non-Western texts written in a variety of languages and scripts. Many of these manuscripts are beautifully illuminated, and sample images can be viewed on the VFL Manuscripts page of the Special Collections VFL Library Research Guide.

Among our outstanding items is VFL MS 029, a fifteenth-century copy of Petrarch’s Canzioniere and Trionfi, produced around 1460 and illuminated by a Florentine artist close to Francesco di Antonio del Chierico. Also included in the collection is VFL MS 002, five leaves from the Llangattock Breviary, a renowned manuscript commissioned by Leonello d’Este, Duke of Ferrara. Written and illuminated sometime between 1441 and 1448, its nickname derives from a later owner, John Etherington Welch Rolls (1807–1870), father of the 1st Baron Llangattock and grandfather to Charles Stewart Rolls, co-founder of Rolls-Royce. The manuscript was sold, dismembered and widely disbursed in 1958, but is now the focus of a research and digital reconstruction project in the Center for Digital Humanities.

The VFL manuscript collection is available for study to researchers, students, and faculty and may be used for classroom presentations and student projects. Contact Susan L’Engle or Debra Cashion for further information about the manuscripts in this collection. For classroom appointments in the Vatican Film Library, please contact Erica Lauriello, Library Associate for Special Collections Administration, 314-977-3090.

Catalog Information and Images

  • Digital Scriptorium
    An online database that includes catalog records and digital images of manuscripts from a large consortium of university, public, and private institutions. To browse Saint Louis University’s collections, follow the “Search” link to “Browse by Location,” and scroll alphabetically by city to “St. Louis.”

  • Print Publications
    Evans, Elizabeth Staley. “Medieval Manuscripts at Saint Louis University: A Catalogue.”
    Manuscripta 47/48 (2003/2004): 44–106 [MSS 1–34]

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