Echternach Pericopes

Echternach Pericopes

Echternach Abbey (Luxembourg) — ca. 1030

A masterpiece from the famous scriptorium in Echternach: pastel miniatures and golden initials in a luminous luxury manuscript

  1. Gospel manuscript from the famous Echternach Abbey in handy format

  2. 41 gold-embossed miniatures in catchy colors and 13 magnificent initial ornamental pages bear witness to influences from late antiquity, Byzantium and Carolingian art

  3. First cycle of images on the history of St. Stephen: medieval excavations with hoe and spade

Echternach Pericopes

Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Echternach Pericopes

The Echternach Pericopes came from the scriptorium of the Salian Abbey of Echternach and arose ca. 1030. It is the most splendid and precious codex from the famous abbey and contains liturgical texts from the four Gospels, arranged according to the holidays of the church year. This masterwork of illumination is furnished with numerous wonderful paintings, which are embellished with gold, purple, silk, and the costliest of dyes.

The Echternach Pericopes

In the 11th century the Salian abbey of Echternach, whose history goes back to A.D. 690, possessed one of the most famous scriptoria in the medieval world and one of the most splendid libraries in all of the Occident. A gem originating from this writing workshop was the Echtenach Pericopes. The corpus is a collection of excerpts from the Pericopes that are ordered around the feast days of the church calendar and are intended for reading during mass. On 155 pages decorated in the most luxurious manner, the stories of the Bible are recorded in word and illustration.

The Salian Book Hoard

The Echternach Pericopes originated in 1030. At this time, the scriptorium of the Salian house monastery was in its most creative period. The corpus is not the result of a special commission, but rather the monks of the abbey kept the luxuriously decorated book as proof of their artistic ability and to assure their place in the highest tier of Occidental book art. Today this fine manuscript is to be found in the Royal Belgian Library in Brussels.

A Firework of Book Illustration

The monks of Echternach shied away from neither cost nor labor for the numerous decorations of the manuscript. The corpus begins with a true masterpiece of miniature painting. A full-paged depiction of the Maiestas Domini, the beloved image of Christ on his throne surrounded by four symbols of the pericopes, was painted in the charmingly simple color scheme of kingly purple and gold. Following this work of art are the portraits of the four evangelists and a few depictions of other saints, for which nonetheless no luxurious gold elements were spared. In total one finds 41 illustrations decorated with gold, 13 richly appointed pages of text, and more than 250 bold multiline initials in the codex.

Originals from Echternach

The Echternach Pericopes are especially interesting not only because of the impressively expensive materials that were chosen, but also for its thrilling new style of manuscript illumination. At first glance, the depictions appear to be rather simple, however upon further examination, the various influences that the Echternach monks combined with one another become apparent. Late Antique, Byzantine, and Carolingian examples served them, but they also found inspiration from contemporary painting techniques. The result was an unmistakable collection of stirring pictures of the life of Jesus Christ, scenes of which are depicted in a manner never before seen.

Inspiring New Stories in Pictures

A few details of the corpus are especially worthy of note, which one could say mark a revolution of monastic book making. The Annunciation to the Shepherds is a distinctive feature. The scene was not treated as a part of Christ’s birth, as had been previously done, but stood instead as its own extensive and cohesive miniature. Luminous colors were chosen, which interact brilliantly within golden framing. Furthermore, it features the first picture cycle concerning the story of St. Stephen, which depicts the excavation work done by the common people, i.e. the search and discovery of the martyr's bones. Astonishingly exact pictures show workers with hammers and shovels, vintners who were paid for their services with gold pieces, and further everyday scenes from medieval life that were previously never held to be worthy of depiction. The Echternach Pericopes, with this sprawling diversity of stories and richness of illustration, created something to inspire the beholder to this day.


Alternative Titles
Echternacher Evangelistar
Size / Format
310 pages / 20.5 × 14.7 cm
ca. 1030
Carolingian minuscule Roman rustic capitals Roman uncial
41 mostly full-page miniatures, 13 generously decorated text pages, 250+ lavishly ornate gold initials, and majuscule text written in gold ink
Collection of excerpts from the Pericopes
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Bremen Cathedral
Jesuit College of Cologne
Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Available facsimile editions:
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 2006/2007
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Detail Picture

Echternach Pericopes

Incipit Page: Mark 16

Large initials created with elaborate interlace and the generous employment of gold leaf were a common feature of Ottonian illuminated manuscripts. This fine “M” initial has been made all the more striking by the stark contrast with the purple background and introduces the discovery of Christ’s empty tomb by three of his disciples. “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.” (Mk. 16:1)

Echternacher Evangelistar
Single Page

Echternach Pericopes

Christ in Majesty

The so-called Maiestas Domini is one of the most popular images in Western Christian art. Modelled on depictions of the Roman Emperor, Christ is always depicted enthroned, framed by a mandorla, and flanked by other holy figures, in this case the Evangelist symbols. This image serves as the frontispiece of one of Echternach’s greatest creations.

Painted in the royal colors of purple and gold, this is a true masterpiece. Although sitting, the burnished gold background makes Christ appear as though he is floating with the Alpha and Omega symbols barely visible above his shoulders. His piercing gaze looks through the beholder, not merely at them. The powerful image conveys a timeless, spaceless feel approximating the eternal nature of God.

Echternacher Evangelistar
Facsimile Editions

#1 Echternacher Evangelistar

Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 2006/2007

Publisher: Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 2006/2007
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Binding: A faithful reproduction of the current binding with solid oak covers, a light brown leather spine, and brass clasps. Presented with the commentary volume in a finely crafted wooden box featuring a replica of an intricately carved bone cover with artfully perforated, partially painted decorative plates. It originated from a 12th-century Salian Evangeliary housed in St Peter's Archabbey, Salzburg and thus provides a befitting cover for the Echternach Gospels.
Commentary: 1 volume (376 pages) by Anton von Euw, Bernard Bousmanne, and Martina Pippal
Languages: French, 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: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
You might also be interested in:
Rothschild Haggadah
Rothschild Haggadah
Northern Italy – 1479

With both religious and secular texts: one of the most valuable Haggadot in the history of Hebrew book illumination

Experience More
Passau Evangelary
Passau Evangelary
Passau (Germany) – 1170–1180

Elements of the Romanesque and Byzantine styles wonderfully combined: a rare luxury codex from Passau with shiny miniatures on a gold background

Experience More
Blog articles worth reading
Filter selection