Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hortus Eystettensis

Caryophyllus Indicus flore multiplici luteo pleno maior

Flammula recta.

I. Jasminum Indicum flore rubro & variegato. II. Gentionella Autumnalis folys Centauryminoris flore coeruleo. III. Centionellamulti flora Autumnalis ecoeruleo purpurascens.

Nolime tangere

Flos solismaior (Sunflower)


Basilius Besler (1591-1629) was a pharmacist in Nuremberg. During the rule of Bishop Johann Conrad von Gemmingen (approx. 1561-1612) he was in charge of the bishop's gardens in Eichstätt.

In 1609 Besler wrote a description of this garden. The precious work he then produced, his famous plant atlas Hortus Eystettensis (Garden at Eichstätt), was published in 1613 by Besler and Ludwig Jungermann and printed in large format, with the bishop financing it.

The work contains 1086 illustrations of plants from 367 copperplate engravings, most of which were depicted in their natural size. The copperplates were engraved by W. Kilian, R. Custos, Fr. von Hulsen and others according to drawings by Besler

The work depicts 349 German, 209 southern- and southeastern European, 63 Asian, 9 African and 23 American species.

'Hortus Eystettensis' was first published in a 300 piece edition and in 1613 was the most modern book on plants of its time

The above images are from the 1713 edition, Hortus Eystettensis in Eichstaett & Nuernberg. 1713. The prints are all Copper engraving / later handcolour . 48 x 40 cm

More of the prints can be found on the website of Fine Decorative Flower Prints by Besler Hortus Eystettensis

If you wish to see the edition of 1613, it is available on the website of the University of Strasbourg

The gardens were sacked by invading Swedish troops under Herzog Bernhard von Weimar in 1633-4, but were reconstructed and opened to the public in 1998.

Flowers are a frequently used metaphor in religious writings.

"…come, south wind. Blow on my garden, and spread the fragrance of its spices.”
(Song of Solomon 4:16)

"May your roots go down deep into the soil of God`s marvellous love.”
(Ephesians. 3:17b)

"Some from a misapprehension number Deborah [in the Old Testament] among the widows, and suppose that Barak the leader of the army is her son, though the scripture tells a different story. I will mention her here because she was a Prophetess and is reckoned among the Judges, and again because she might have said with the Psalmist:— How sweet are your words unto my taste! Yea sweeter than honey to my mouth. Well was she called the bee for she fed on the flowers of scripture, was enveloped with the fragrance of the Holy Spirit, and gathered into one with prophetic lips the sweet juices of the nectar."
(St Jerome, Letter 54: To Furia, paragraph 17)

"I might say that a rich man`s table of Scripture has been laid before us. We enter a meadow filled with flowers; here the rose blushes; there the lilies glisten white; everywhere flowers abound in all varieties. Our soul is drawn hither and thither to pluck the most beautiful. If we gather the rose, we leave the lily behind; if we pluck the lily, the violets remain. Likewise, in the seventy-seventh psalm, mystically fruitful in divine secrets, wherever you look the words are flowers of different kinds, and it is not possible to gather them all. We shall pick, however, as many as we can; from the few, we may contemplate the grandeur of the many."
(St Jerome, Homily 11 on Psalm 77[78])

"May you be praised, my Lord, for sister water, who is very useful and humble, precious and chaste. . .
May you be praised, my Lord, for sister earth, our mother, who bears and feeds us, and produces the variety of fruits and dappled flowers and grasses. . .
Praise and bless my Lord, give thanks and serve him in all humility"
(St. Francis of Assisi, Canticle of the Creatures)

"[T]he Church is a garden filled with infinite flowers where there are flowers of different sizes, colours, fragrances: in brief, of different perfections. For they each have their price, their grace, and their substance, and make a most pleasing perfection of beauty in the gathering of of their rich variety"
(Saint Francis de Sales, Traité de l'amour de Dieu: Oeuvres complètes, IV, p. 111).

"My Darling Sister, -

I know quite well all you are suffering. I know your anguish, and I share it. Oh! if I could but impart to you the peace which Jesus has put into my soul amid my most bitter tears. Be comforted – all passes away. Our life of yesterday is spent; death too will come and go, and then we shall rejoice in life, true life, for countless ages, for evermore.

Meanwhile let us make of our heart a garden of delights where Our sweet Saviour may come and take His rest. Let us plant only lilies there, and sing with St. John of the Cross:

" There I remained in deep oblivion,
My head reposing upon Him I love,
Lost to myself and all!
I cast my cares away
And let them, heedless, mid the lilies lie.”
(St Thérèse of Lisieux: Letter to her sister Céline, October 14, 1890.)

"When one visits a botanical garden, one is impressed by the variety of plants and flowers, and spontaneously thinks of the fancy of a Creator who has made on earth a marvellous garden,... An analogous sentiment washes over us when we consider the spectacle of sanctity: The world seems to be a 'garden' where the Spirit of God has called forth with admirable imagination a multitude of men and women saints, of every age and social condition, of every language, people and culture.

Each one is distinct from the others, with the uniqueness proper of the human person and of a particular spiritual charism. All of them have, though, the 'seal' of Jesus, that is, the imprint of his love, witnessed by way of the cross."
(Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience 11th April 2008)