Gregory the Great, Homiliae XL in evangelia

The 9th-century Latin manuscript Gregory the Great, Homiliae XL in evangelia was authored by Pope Gregory IV, the last, traditional, Latin Father of the Church and the first exponent of a truly medieval, sacramental spirituality. His title ‘The Great’ reflects his status as a writer and ruler.

This manuscript has a 15th-century shelf mark on folio 2, which reveals that this volume was in the possession of St. Kilian Cathedral in Würzburg. The Selene recording has uncovered twenty-five pages from this volume with annotations made by scratching the surface of the parchment using a drypoint stylus, rather than ink.

The catalogue description for the recto of folio 74 shown in the image above, describes a drawing in the lower margin. A hunting scene, barely visible through conventional photographic recording, but clear enough to make a partial digital annotation. As displayed above, the 3D render reveals not only the illustration, but also four camouflaged letters, R, O, D, A, demonstrating how 3D recording with the Selene is complementary to traditional imaging in revealing discoveries and contributing to the biography of an object.

The drypoint annotations recorded on folio 60r are inconsistent with the majority of others from this manuscript. These annotations recorded on folio 60r are dotted between passages of text rather than confined to the margins. These appear to be relatively deep incisions, marking the position of punctuation. Far less obvious and perhaps only recognisable from the 3D render is a small, marginal illustration showing two hands, tied together with a bow.

A hidden marginal annotation, inspired by Chapter 22:14 from the Gospel of Matthew – revealed through 3D imaging.

In order to determine whether or how this annotation might relate to the text, the image above was shared with Jo Story, Professor of Early Medieval History, Leicester University. Her interpretation reveals a clear link between annotation and text. The text from this homily describes the stoning of Stephen. The translation of folio 60r begins ‘when Stephen was dying for his faith, Saul kept the clothes of the stoners. Therefore, he himself stoned them all with his own hands, who returned all the works to the stoners’. The connection between inscription and text is most evident from the passage at the end of the fourth line ‘multi autem sunt vocati pauci vero electi’ – ‘because many are called but few are chosen’ – Chapter 22:14 from the Gospel of Matthew. This passage immediately follows the verse ‘Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth’.

A compiled digital annotation using conventional and 3D recordings, showing the position and form of the addition.