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Epistolaries are among the rarest of liturgical manuscripts. Their text consists of the Epistles and Gospels with lessons from the Old Testament for particular occasions. Sometimes, as in this leaf, they had interlinear neumes in red to assist the deacon or sub-deacon in chanting parts of this section of the church service while he was standing on the second step in front of the altar.

The text is written in well executed rotunda gothic script with bold Lombardic initials. Some of the filigree decoration which surrounds the initial letters has faded because it was executed in some of the fugitive colors which were then prepared from the juices of such flowers and plants as tumeric, saffron, lilies, and prugnameroli (buckthorn berries).

vellum, script, Rotunda, Italy, initials, Epistolary, bible, 1400s
29 x 21.5 cm