Vita Sancti Liudgeri

Vita Sancti Liudgeri

Abbey of Werden (Germany) — Before 1100

Alcuin as teacher, Charlemagne as Lord: the life of Saint Liudger in one of the oldest medieval hagiographies

  1. One of the oldest medieval vitae is a superb and unique Ottonian manuscript concerning Saint Liudger (742–809)

  2. Liudger studied in Anglo-Saxon York under Alcuin (ca. 735–804) before serving the Emperor Charlemagne (742–814)

  3. The story of his missionary work and founding of two monasteries is adorned with gold and silver

Vita Sancti Liudgeri

Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
Please ask for a quote!
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Vita Sancti Liudgeri

One of the oldest Vitae to survive the Middle Ages also concerns one of the most important saints for the history of Germany. The Vita Sancti Liudgeri is a superb Ottonian manuscript relating the life and works of Saint Liudger. Born near Utrecht, Liudger studied in Anglo-Saxon York under the famous Alcuin, the leading scholar of Charlemagne's court and a personal advisor to him, before serving the Frankish emperor himself. Aside from missionary work in the east of Charlemagne's empire, he also founded two monasteries: Wenden, and another that grew into modern Münster. The illuminated manuscript featuring 23 miniatures backed by gold and silver is one of the oldest surviving Vitae of the Middle Ages, and is the only known illustrated account of the saint's life.

Vita Sancti Liudgeri

Dating from the end of the 11th century, the Vita Sancti Liudgeri constitutes one of the most fascinating manuscripts of the late Ottonian period. Around this time, several monks of Werden abbey produced this richly illustrated biography of Saint Liudger who had been active in the service of Charlemagne. 23 miniatures on gold and silver grounds are dispersed over 68 pages, impressively reviving the era of Charlemagne and his conversion of the Saxons. This Vita is the only illustrated description of Saint Liudger’s life and is among the world’s oldest surviving manuscripts of a saint’s biography. A highly important document of medieval history, culture and religion, the book provides an account of the exemplary life and wonders of Liudger. Both the composition of the paintings, the forceful expression of their figures, the colors, as well as numerous details allow us to ascribe the manuscript to the tradition of late Ottonian illumination.

The Legend of Saint Liudger

Saint Liudger was born near Utrecht ca. 742. He attended theology courses in the cathedral school of York where he was taught by Alcuin, who became Charlemagne's counsellor. Liudger was a missionary with heart and soul. His first missions led him to Friesland. Around 790, Charlemagne appointed Liudger head of the mission in East Friesland. In 791, he sailed to Helgoland from where he was expelled in 792 during a rebellion. In the same year, Charlemagne entrusted him with the mission in western Saxony. In 793, Liudger founded a monastery in the settlement of Mimigernaford which was later to become today’s city of Münster. After its elevation to an Episcopal see, Liudger was ordained its first bishop in 805. He went on to founded a Benedictine monastery at Werden in 799. Saint Liudger died in 809 in Billerbeck and was brought back to Werden where his body rests today.

Codicology

Size / Format
68 pages / 30.0 × 12.5 cm
Origin
Germany
Date
Before 1100
Style
Language
Illustrations
23 miniatures

Available facsimile editions:
Vita Sancti Liudgeri – Ms. theol. lat. fol. 323 – Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Berlin, Germany)
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1993
Limited Edition: 450 copies
Detail Picture

Vita Sancti Liudgeri

Charlemagne Grants Liudger the Brabant Monastery of Lothusa

In 787, Charlemagne appointed Liudger as the leader for missionary activities in central Friesland and as part of this entrusted him with the leadership and ownership of the Petrus Monastery at Lothusa (Leuze). Charlemagne is enthroned with a golden crown, a green halo, and holds a scepter as he hands the charter for the monastery to Liudger, who has a blue halo. Both Liudger and Charlemagne are depicted wearing red togas, but the Emperor’s toga is secured with a golden brooch.

Die Vita Sancti Liudgeri
Facsimile Editions

#1 Die Vita Sancti Liudgeri

Limited Edition: 450 copies
Binding: Leather with blind embossing
Commentary: 1 volume by Eckhard Freise
Language: German
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) All folios are cut according to the original.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
Please ask for a quote!
You might also be interested in:
Lorsch Rotulus
Lorsch Rotulus
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

Experience More
Legenda Maior: The Life of Saint Francis of Assisi
Legenda Maior: The Life of Saint Francis of Assisi
Italy – 13th century

From the pen of Bonaventura and decorated with illustrations from Giotto's circle: the only authentic account of the life of Saint Francis of Assisi

Experience More
Blog articles worth reading
Filter selection
Publisher