Manuela Vestri
The Codex

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The Codex Amiatinus

Ceolfrith, abbot of the twin monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow in Northumbria, had three copies of the Bible made from a model coming from Cassiodorus' Vivarium. Of these only the Codex Amiatinus (ms. Laur. Amiat. 1) survives intact today. This manuscript, written between the end of the seventh and the beginning of the eighth centuries by at least seven or eight scribes, is exceptionally large. It is composed of 1029 parchment leaves, measures 540 x 345 mm and weighs around 50 kilos. Its extraordinary interest derives not only from these external characteristics, but also because it is the most ancient and complete witness to the Vulgate Latin Bible.
The Codex Amiatinus was carried to Rome by Ceolfrith as a gift to Pope Gregory II in 716. At an undeter-mined date, though certainly before the beginning of the eleventh century, the manuscript came to the Monastery of San Salvatore on Mount Amiata, where it remained for at least seven centuries, except for a brief period in Rome when it was collated by the commission in charge of the Sistine Bible (1590).
Kept in the reliquary cupboard of the Amiatine monastery, it fell victim to the Suppression of the Monasteries ordered by Grand Duke Leopold and was confiscated in 1782. Two years later it was assigned to the Laurentian Library where first the Medicis and then the House of Lorena hoarded the most important witnesses of Western culture in their possession.
The imposing structure of this manuscript, its venerable age and the value of its great miniatures (of which the most famous is that portraying Ezra copying the Holy Scriptures) have ensured it's strict conservation. Thus, the manuscript is still in excellent conditions. These same features have, however, made consulting or exhibiting the manu-script extremely difficult as well as carrying out its accurate reproduction.