Thursday, October 11, 2007

Barberini Exultet Roll

~hat tip to Daniel. Here is the Harrowing of Hell from the Barberini Exultet Roll.
The Barberini Exultet Roll, of which five sections survive, was created in the great Benedictine abbey of Monte Casino, in central Italy, in the context of a deliberate program for producing liturgical texts which conformed to the liturgy of Rome, in the wake of the Gregorian liturgical reforms of the mid-eleventh century. The text is written in the characteristic Beneventan script, surmounted by neumes, that is, an early form of musical notation. Toward the end of the thirteenth century, because of water damage, parts of the miniatures were repainted -- the monks of Monte Cassino were prone to this sort of restoration work, not always for the best. The various captions were added at that time: some Latin titles in gothic script, as well as early Italian commentaries within the pictures.

Click on the image for a larger resolution.

I love the Harrowing of Hell icon. Seeing it always brings to mind two passages. The first from Adam Lay Ybounden:
Ne had the apple taken been,
The apple taken been,
Ne had never our ladie,
Abeen heav'ne queen.

Blessed be the time
That apple taken was,
Therefore we moun singen.
And from the Exultet at Easter Vigil:
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

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