Scroll Exultet

Scroll Exultet – Priuli & Verlucca, editori – Cas. 724/III – Biblioteca Casanatense (Rome, Italy)

Montecassino (Italy) — 9th century

Created in the famous Benedictine Abbey of Montecassino: a magnificently illuminated scroll, richly decorated with gold, containing the prayers for the Holy Easter Mass

  1. This rare scroll is counted among the most beautiful Romanesque manuscripts

  2. A solemn hymn of praise for the Easter mass with bright colors and gold leaf

  3. Created in the world famous Montecassino Abbey, one of the most important cultural centers in medieval Europe

Scroll Exultet

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Scroll Exultet

This Scroll Exultet is one of the finest masterpieces of this special genre of illuminated scrolls. It was made between 981 and 987 in the monastery of Montecassino in southern Italy. With its precious decoration, this rare scroll is one of the most beautiful illuminated manuscripts of the Romanesque period. Golden decorative initials and colorful illustrations with gold leaf embellish the Scroll Exultet and authentically show Byzantine and Ottonian influences. The work contains the text and melody of the Exultet, a solemn hymn of praise at Easter Mass. The extraordinary elaboration of the scroll is appropriate to its liturgical significance. The Exultet is the hymn for the celebration of the Easter Vigil in which Christ is praised as the light of the world.

Scroll Exultet

The Exultet is the ceremonial hymn of praise sung during the Christian liturgy of the celebration of the Easter vigil. In it, Christ is praised as the light of the world and his resurrection is placed in connection with the divine plan of salvation as revealed in the Old Testament. A few extremely rare scrolls containing the text and melody of the Exultet originated between the 10th and 13th centuries. A particularly precious specimen of these is the Scroll Exultet at hand. The work originated between 981 and 987, most likely in Montecassino Abbey, which developed in the course of time into one of the leading centers of culture in Italy. Ten fascinating miniatures illustrate the hymn of praise. The script is embellished with 23 golden decorative initials.

Rare Documents

Exultet scrolls originated from southern Italy, most of them were written and illustrated in the Montecassino Abbey. The format of the scrolls was chosen intentionally, although manuscripts had been recorded in the form of codices since the 4th century. The Exultet was read aloud from the so-called ambo, an architectural idiosyncrasy of Italian churches. The ambo was a raised position for a speaker that was replaced by the pulpit in later church construction. The priest could read from the Exultet in his position and lower it from the ambo, so that those attending mass could see the beautifully designed scrolls.

Masterpieces of their Time

The Scroll Exultet before us contains some of the most beautiful Romanesque miniatures. The fresh and unadulterated depictions show influences of Byzantine and Ottonian illumination. Vivid colors and the application of the finest gold lend expressiveness to the images. The scenes, which are sung during the Easter service, are illustrated with impressive simplicity. One of the most important festivals of the Christian church was appropriately honored in this precious document.


Alternative Titles
Rotolo Exultet
Size / Format
1 roll / 685.0 × 23.0 cm
9th century
Lower-case Beneventan script
All 10 parts of the scroll are richly illustrated
Exultet, liturgy of the lighting of the Easter candle
Previous Owners
Cardinal Girolamo Casanate

Available facsimile editions:
Scroll Exultet – Priuli & Verlucca, editori – Cas. 724/III – Biblioteca Casanatense (Rome, Italy)
Priuli & Verlucca, editori – Scarmagno, 1994
Limited Edition: 500 copies
Detail Picture

Scroll Exultet

Madonna and Child

Looking directly at the beholder with rosy cheeks and a serene expression on her face, the Virgin Mary holds the baby Jesus in her lap as she sits on a golden throne. They are flanked by colorful angels who float on either side of mother and child; all four figures have golden halos. The background has been reduced to a simple blue and green with a horizon point in the middle. Close attention has been paid to the garments’ fall of folds, particularly the hood framing Mary’s face.

Scroll Exultet – Priuli & Verlucca, editori – Cas. 724/III – Biblioteca Casanatense (Rome, Italy)
Single Page

Scroll Exultet

Crucifixion and Christ in Majesty

In the upper-register, Christ is shown crucified on a gold leaf cross flanked by the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist. The sun and moon flank the cross representing the eclipse that occurred at the moment of his death, the so-called “Crucifixion Darkness”, the nature of this darkening is unclear between the accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

The lower-register shows an unusual depiction of Christ in majesty with the mandorla – the almond shaped frame – is itself additionally framed by intricate interlace patterns. Christ sits enthroned, his right hand is extended in the sign of benediction while his left holds an open book. It forms an “M” initials, a reference to the phrase Maiestas Domini, with dragon heads at its feet.

Scroll Exultet – Priuli & Verlucca, editori – Cas. 724/III – Biblioteca Casanatense (Rome, Italy)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Rotolo Exultet

Priuli & Verlucca, editori – Scarmagno, 1994

Publisher: Priuli & Verlucca, editori – Scarmagno, 1994
Limited Edition: 500 copies
Binding: In order to render the original structure of the scroll, the individual sections (reproduced in authentic facsimile reprint on parchment-like art paper especially manufactured by the mill in nine colours plus gilding, and with all the original flaws and fraying) have been reassembled like the original, and the rolled-up scroll comes in an elegant slipcase that also contains the commentary
Commentary: 1 volume by Beat Brenk and Guglielmo Cavallo
Languages: English, 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: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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