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Friday, November 07, 2008

Florence: A City of the Word

"Between the “Duomo as spiritual house of a community” and the “Duomo as monument” there is a third reality, almost a “third Duomo”. . . . I mean to say that . . . between the church used for worship and the church-monument, there is the church of the books: the church that expresses itself with words and with musical texts, that transcribes its history, that communicates its inner wealth through illuminated codices.

In fact, he who wants to know a church – in its spiritual as well as in its monumental dimension – must get to know it through its study and worship books as well, [books] that over the centuries have shaped the continuity of its life. It is the books which allow us to read meaning in the stones, not the other way around."

Professor Monsignor Timothy Verdon, Canon of Santa Maria del Fiore, 1997





Ugolino Verino (1438-1516),
Vita di Santa Chiara vergine
Florence, Italy: 1496
Illuminated manuscript on parchment. 39 leaves. 21 x 13 cm. Single column of 19 lines. Textblock: 14 x 8.5 cm.
Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University, Dallas,



Handwritten by and presented by the author to the sisters at the Convento di Santa Chiara Novella in Florence in 1496. where it remained until 1808

Saint Antoninus Florentinus (1389-1459)
Confessionale defecerunt scrutantes scrutino
Italy: c.1450
Manuscript on parchment. 204 leaves. 15 x 10 cm. Single column of 24 lines. Textblock: 8.5 x 7 cm.
Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University, Dallas,



Saint Antoninus Florentinus entered the Dominican order at the age of sixteen. Uninterested in achieving an important administrative position, he was nevertheless forced by Pope Eugene IV to accept the Archbishopric of Florence in 1446. One of the great moral theologians, there is an attempt to have him declared a Doctor of the Church. He was canonised in 1523. His Summa Theologicae is one of the most important works of moral theology and an important document for the history and legal system of the 15th century.


Psalter with hymnal
Illuminated by the workshop of Bartolomeo d’Antonio Varnucci (c. 1412/13-1479). . , Florence, Italy c. 1460-70
Manuscript on vellum 153 x 114 mm. 248 leaves


The manuscript was made to the order of a convent of Benedictine nuns consecrated to St Felicity

Bartolomeo is documented from 1440 on, when he began to work for the Badia in Florence with his brother Giovanni. Bartolomeo mainly worked on the illumination of liturgical manuscripts and books of hours. Bartolomeo Varnucci repeatedly worked for the Benedictines in Florence.