Lorsch Rotulus

Lorsch Rotulus Facsimile Edition

Lorsch (Germany) — Third quarter of the 9th century / Middle of 11th century

Probably commissioned by Louis the German and the pride of the city of Frankfurt today: the only surviving scroll of the Carolingian period with the names of over 500 saints

  1. The only liturgical scroll to survive the Carolingian period is the pride and joy of the historic city of Frankfurt

  2. Louis II the German (ca. 806–876) is listed in the manuscript with his family and may have commissioned it

  3. The scroll was written in three columns and lists 534 saints, some emphasized with gold and silver ink

Lorsch Rotulus

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Lorsch Rotulus

The written scroll as a medium for liturgical texts represents a rarely observed anachronism at the time of the Carolingians because the codex had already supplanted the scroll in Late Antiquity and had been in common use for centuries. Moreover, since its use in the liturgy required a higher degree of skill, its medial form makes this scroll an exceptional specimen from the outset – one may well infer from this a great appreciation of its contents. However, this is also exceptional, since in the litany the names of a total of 534 saints are mentioned and invoked in the liturgy. Also noteworthy is the multicolored wickerwork ornament that very decoratively borders the side of the scroll over its entire length. The attribution to Lorsch’s scriptorium and to the 3rd quarter of the 9th century is assured by the singular emphasis on St. Nazarius, the local saint of Lorsch.

Lorsch Rotulus

The Lorsch Rotulus provides the City and University Library of Frankfurt with a truly extraordinary document in many respects. The viewer is fascinated not only by its outer form – it constitutes the only liturgical book roll that has come down to us from the Carolingian period – but also by the absolutely unusual number of Saints mentioned in the Litany (534 altogether), and finally by its exquisite decorative apparatus.

A chef-d’œuvre of Carolingian Art

The manuscript dates from the 3rd quarter of the 9th century and was produced in the scriptorium of Lorsch Abbey. Evidence of its origin is not only found in the style of the extremely decorative and colorfully interlaced ornamentation running along the borders over the entire length of the parchment roll, but also in the emphasis the Litany places on Nazarius, the local patron saint of Lorsch. This sequence of Saints was written across the entire front side of the Rotulus in three columns, with gold and silver letters enhancing the importance of certain names. The four texts placed on its reverse side (a Votive Mass, prayers intended for Mass, a directory listing treasures and books of the Abbey dedicated to the Redeemer, and an Officium Stellae) were added in the mid–11th century. This manuscript now kept in Frankfurt, a city that celebrated the fact that it was documented historically for the first time 1200 years ago in 1994, is of special significance because Charlemagne’s son, Louis II the German, and his family are listed in the Litany. Louis was founder of the Abbey of the Redeemer and it is quite possible that the Rotulus once belonged to the first important items kept in this abbey of the Carolingian Palatinate in Frankfurt, perhaps originally commissioned by Louis the German himself.


Alternative Titles
Lorscher Rotulus
Size / Format
1 scroll / 257.0 × 23.5 cm
Third quarter of the 9th century / Middle of 11th century
Carolingian minuscule Rustic capitals Square capitals
Silver and gold ink, decorative interlace borders
Litany of the Saints (534 total), a Votive Mass, prayers intended for Mass, a directory listing treasures and books of the Abbey dedicated to the Redeemer, and an Officium Stellae
Louis the German (ca. 806–876)

Available facsimile editions:
Lorsch Rotulus – Ms. Barth. 179 – Stadt- und Universitätsbibliothek (Frankfurt am Main, Germany) Facsimile Edition
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1994
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Detail Picture

Lorsch Rotulus

Seam Connecting Two Pieces of Parchment

The two-and-a-half-meter long scroll was creating by sewing together four strips of parchment of varying sizes. These were then cut to fit together as neatly as possible and are connected by double-seams that have been stitched in opposing directions. Despite the signs of wear such as faded ink, these tightly knit seams have held up marvelously. The scribe, not wanting to waste any space, has even written down saints’ names in the gap between the two rows of stitches.

Lorscher Rotulus
Single Page

Lorsch Rotulus

Litany of Saints

534 saints’ names are listed in three columns and written in Carolingian miniscule with brown ink. The first letter of each line is written alternately in gold and silver ink, the latter having oxidized and turned black, while red ink was used for the first letter of each saint’s name. According to research, the scribe responsible for this work also participated in the creation of two luxury sacramentary manuscripts from the scriptorium of Lorsch Abbey.

The text is framed by multicolored interlace ornaments of green, red, and yellow with shading to emphasize the knots. A large stain, gold and silver initials that have rubbed off, and other signs of wear and tear indicate that the scroll was used extensively over the last 1,200 years.

Lorscher Rotulus
Facsimile Editions

#1 Lorscher Rotulus

Limited Edition: 980 copies
Binding: Scroll protected in a solid book case
Commentary: 1 volume by Johannes Fried, Hermann Schefers, Gehardt Powitz, Felix Heinzer, Herrad Spilling, and Katharina Bierbrauer
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.
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