Codex of St. George

Codex of St. George Facsimile Edition

Italy and probably Avignon (France) — First half of the 14th century

Commissioned by Cardinal Jacopo Stefaneschi at the notoriously lavish papal court in Avignon: The Legend of St. George, Slayer of the Dragon

  1. After the papacy moved to Avignon in 1309, numerous artists from across Europe followed them there

  2. The Vita of St. George is adorned with elaborate historiated initials and a gorgeous miniature of St. George slaying the dragon

  3. Originating from or trained in Siena, the Master of the Codex of Saint George was active in Avignon from 1310 to 1344

Codex of St. George

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Codex of St. George

Some manuscripts are so spectacular that they become the name of convenience for the artist who created them. Such is the case with the gorgeous Codex of St. George, which is housed in the illustrious collections of the Vatican Apostolic Library. Aside from the standard liturgical texts, the illuminated missal also contains a Vita of Saint George written by Cardinal Jacopo Caetani degli Stefaneschi (1270–1343). The work was lavishly illuminated by the Master of the Codex of Saint George ca. 1320 in Avignon at the behest of Cardinal Jacopo Stefaneschi and is adorned by gorgeous historiated initials and bas-de-page miniatures.

Codex of St. George

After the papacy moved to Avignon in 1309, many artists moved there as well seeking the patronage of the princes of the church. Coming from all over Europe, they came together at the papal court and thus helped give birth to the International Gothic style. One of these artists was the Master of the Codex of Saint George, who is named after a richly illuminated missal containing a Vita of Saint George, which was completed ca. 1320. Elaborate historiated initials, as well as numerous smaller initials in red, blue, and gold leaf, decorate the text in addition to a gorgeous miniature of St. George slaying the dragon.

Who Was the Master of the Codex of St. George?

Although his true name remains unknown, the Master of the Codex of Saint George was first identified by Giacomo De Nicola in 1906. Judging by his artistic style, the talented artist came from or was trained in Siena before making his way to the Papal court in Avignon where he was active from 1310 until 1344. It was there that he received a commission from Cardinal Jacopo Stefaneschi for the creation of an elaborately illuminated missal. In addition to creating at least four illuminated manuscripts, the Master of the Codex of Saint George has also been credited with creating numerous gorgeous panel paintings with gold leaf backgrounds.


Alternative Titles
St. George Codex
Vita des heiligen Georg
Codice di San Giorgio
Vita Sancti Georgii Martyris
First half of the 14th century
Gothic Textura Rotunda
18 miniatures accompanied by bas-de-page images
Mass texts from the Feast of the Annunciation of Mary (March 25) to the Feast of Saints Primus and Felicianus (June 9)
Cardinal Jacopo Gaetano Stefaneschi (ca. 1270–ca. 1343), deacon of San Giorgio al Velabro in Rome
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Codex of St. George – Arch. Cap. S. Pietro C 129 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City) Facsimile Edition
Belser Verlag – Stuttgart, 2020
Limited Edition: 299 copies
Detail Picture

Codex of St. George

The Martyrdom of Saint George

The refusal of St. George to recant his Christian faith earned him a death by beheading, which supposedly occurred in Nicaea on April 23rd, 303. He is pictured kneeling before the throne of the Emperor Diocletian as the executioner raises his sword. Blood flows from the saint’s neck, indicating that the first blow was insufficient – an all too common and gruesome occurrence before the guillotine. Meanwhile the hand of God sends forth the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove to retrieve his soul.

Vita des heiligen Georg
Single Page

Codex of St. George

Saint George and the Dragon

The image of “Christ Militant” slaying a serpent is one of the oldest in Christian art and the dragon motif appears to have been transferred to St. George in the early 11th century. As an officer in the elite Praetorian Guard, he served as a perfect example for the knights of the First Crusade, who believed he fought alongside them at Antioch and Jerusalem.

According to legend, the citizens of Silene, Libya were terrorized by a dragon, which they tried to placate through sacrifices – originally sheep, but eventually people who were chosen by lot. Finally, the king’s daughter was to be sacrificed. She looks on from the right as George attacks the dragon and drives a lance into its mouth, which inspires the people to convert to Christianity.

Vita des heiligen Georg
Facsimile Editions

#1 Vita des heiligen Georg

Belser Verlag – Stuttgart, 2020

Publisher: Belser Verlag – Stuttgart, 2020
Limited Edition: 299 copies
Binding: Dark brown leather binding with 2 clasps; a medallion on the cover shows St. George
Commentary: 1 volume by Anja Grebe
Language: German
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€€€ (7,000€ - 10,000€)
Edition available
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