The Golden Gospels of Echternach, Codex Aureus Epternacensis

The Golden Gospels of Echternach, Codex Aureus Epternacensis

The Golden Gospels of Echternach, Codex Aureus Epternacensis

The Golden Gospels of Echternach, Codex Aureus Epternacensis

Excerpt

The Golden Gospels of Echternach -- the Codex Aureus Epternacensis -- came into being almost a thousand years ago. The period to which it belongs began in 962 with the coronation of Otto the Great as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire; it ended in 1056 with the death of the Emperor Henry III. The Codex is a product of both reigns, the precious ornaments of the cover representing the Ottonian era, while the parchment manuscript, partly purple-coloured and elaborately adorned with gold lettering, initials and illuminations, typifies the Salic rule of Henry. The ornaments of the front cover were a gift of the Dowager Empress Theophano and her son Otto III to the Imperial Abbey of Echternach in Upper Lorraine. The Codex was created in Trier, see of the Archbishop. The manuscript was made under Henry III, evidently in Echternach itself.

Despite the fact that the various parts differ in age and origin, as a work of art and in its spiritual expression the Codex constitutes a unity which has its source in the ideas determining the contemporary history and concept of the world. These ideas were personified in the very institutions and individuals to whom the Codex owes its form and existence: the imperial and the royal donors, the bishop's town and the abbey. They stand for kingship and priesthood -- Regnum and Sacerdotium -- for the 'coming' of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth and the monasticism which so deeply stirred the period. This entire world of ideas had its origin in Christian teachings as manifest in the four Gospels -- the subject of the Golden Gospels of Echternach. The book as a whole reveals how medieval man visualised this theme, and it is only through the spirit of the time that it can be fully understood.

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