Sacramentarium Episcopi Warmundi

Sacramentarium Episcopi Warmundi

Ivrea (Italy) — End of the 10th century

Patronized by Emperor Otto III: the Italian Bishop Warmund and his unique watercolor sacramentary

  1. A spectacular work of art commissioned by the Italian bishop and pupil of Emperor Otto III, Warmund (d. ca. 1011)

  2. The vividly colorful scenes were sketched with a pen and painted with water colors

  3. This creates a large reception bandwidth for the viewer

Sacramentarium Episcopi Warmundi

Ms. 31 (LXXXVI) Biblioteca Capitolare di Ivrea (Ivrea, Italy)
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Sacramentarium Episcopi Warmundi

Bishop Warmund was an important personality in Italy and was the patron of numerous historical artistic treasures, of which only a few exist today, unfortunately. A spectacular work of art that has been connected to Warmund originated ca. 1,000. It is the Sacramentarium Episcopi Warmundi, which is decorated with elaborately embellished, gilded initials and breathtakingly beautiful illustrations in watercolors.

Sacramentarium Episcopi Warmundi

A precious manuscript, which was manufactured before the year 1000, is stored in the Capitulary Library of the Italian city of Ivrea. It is the Sacramentarium Episcopi Warmundi, which was made for Bishop Warmund of Ivrea. The codex consists of 444 parchment pages altogether and contains illuminations of vastly varying execution as well as colored and gilded decorative initials. It is one of the oldest works of the ecclesiastical book collection.

A Historic Personality

Bishop Warmund played a special role in the history of the city of Ivrea. He was an opponent to the King of Ivrea at that time – King Arduino and defied his rule. His most famous supporter was the young Holy Roman Emperor Otto III. He had declared it his goal to restore the Holy Roman Empire as it existed under the Emperor Constantine. The Kaiser named Pope Sylvester II as the successor of Pope Gregory V. During the Roman synod in the year 999, he imposed the death penalty on the ostensibly godless King Arduino, removing Warmund’s enemy in doing so. The sacramentary, which was written in his honor, commemorates the conquest of an enemy.

A Worthy Opponent

Numerous depictions of King Arduino, who is often referred to in historical writings as the first King of Italy. He is depicted as a great man with a stately, powerful stature. His rival Warmund in no way failed to fulfill this ideal, or at least that is what the historical images of the Bishop would conclude. The highly-educated and art-loving Warmund transformed the city of Ivrea into one of the most important cultural centers of Italy during that historic epoch. One of the few examples of the artistic achievements of his time to survive today is the astounding sacramentary that lays before us.

Manifold Illumination

The illustration of the masterpiece was executed by various illuminators. However, a few special features are common in all of the pictures. The vividly colorful scenes were sketched with a pen and painted with water colors. The large-format miniatures as well as the finely designed decorative initials are encompassed in frames, which bear clarifying and explanatory inscriptions.


Alternative Titles
Ivrea Sacramentary
Sacramentario del Vescovo Warmondo di Ivrea
Sacramentarium episcopi Warmundi
Bishop Warmund Sacramentary
Bischof Warmund-Sakramentar
Sacramentary of Ivrea
Sacramentario d'Ivrea
Size / Format
444 pages / 33.0 × 21.0 cm
End of the 10th century
Carolingian minuscule
62 miniatures and numerous colorful zoomorphic initials
Liturgical texts, prayers for various feast days, funerary rites, texts for the ordination of bishops and the consecration of kings
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Bishop Warmund (d. ca. 1011)

Available facsimile editions:
Sacramentarium Episcopi Warmundi – Ms. 31 (LXXXVI)
Priuli & Verlucca, editori – Scarmagno, 1990
Limited Edition: 1000 copies
Detail Picture

Sacramentarium Episcopi Warmundi

Coronation of a King

This fine miniature shows a young king leaning forward to receive his crown while surrounded by tonsured priests, all wearing elaborate robes. The scene is presented without a background and the only indication that they are in a church comes from the altar, which is covered with a large cloth. The naturalistic posturing of the figures is advanced for the period – a sign of the emerging Romanesque style – and differs from the stiff forms that were common in the 10th century.

Sacramentarium Episcopi Warmundi
Single Page

Sacramentarium Episcopi Warmundi

Incipit Page

Dominated by an elaborate “V” initial, this is a fine example of artwork in this thousand-year-old manuscript, which is distinguished by its embellished initials and fine watercolors. The watercolors would have been very bright when it was first made, but have unfortunately faded and the gold leaf has rubbed off over the centuries, but the red and blue have held up remarkably well.

The influence of Insular art was widespread in Europe at this time as Irish missionaries had been establishing monasteries across Europe for centuries and continued to be very active in monastic life, including the scriptoria. This influence is evident in the intricate interlace patterns and dragon heads, both standard features of Insular illumination.

Sacramentarium Episcopi Warmundi
Facsimile Editions

#1 Sacramentarium Episcopi Warmundi

Priuli & Verlucca, editori – Scarmagno, 1990
Sacramentarium Episcopi Warmundi – Ms. 31 (LXXXVI)
Sacramentarium Episcopi Warmundi – Ms. 31 (LXXXVI) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Priuli & Verlucca, editori – Scarmagno, 1990
Limited Edition: 1000 copies
Binding: Wooden boards with a handbound, embossed natural leather spine. Facsimile and commentary volume by a slipcase with wooden headboards and embossed leather sides.
Commentary: 1 volume (240 pages) by Luigi Bettazzi, Ferdinando dell'Oro, and Luigi Magnani
Languages: English, French, Italian
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: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
You might also be interested in:
Barberini Exultet Roll
Barberini Exultet Roll
Montecassino Abbey (Italy) – ca. 1058

Created at the behest of Abbot Desiderius (1058–1087) from Monte Cassino: a Romanesque art treasure and one of the last scrolls ever made

Experience More
Gradual of St. Katharinenthal
Gradual of St. Katharinenthal
Katharinenthal Abbey (Switzerland) – 1312

Magnificent miniatures on a golden background: one of the most beautiful Gothic manuscripts was used as a large choir book until the 19th century

Experience More
Blog articles worth reading
Filter selection