The Bible of Ripoll and the Bible of Rodes | Cultural Heritage. Goverment of Catalonia.
The Bible of Ripoll and the Bible of Rodes The Sacred Scriptures in full colour
Scribes, illuminators and miniaturists worked side by side in the workshop of the monastery of Ripoll, one of the centres of cultural reference in Medieval Europe. This celebrated workshop produced numerous manuscripts of great artistic quality, above all under the orders of the Abbot Oliba. Made in the first quarter of the 11th century, the Bible of Ripoll and the Bible of Rodes are the most enlightened that have come to us from the Romanesque period.

The monk Guifré (Wilfred), was the only copyists of these Bibles; the principal illustrator was, as historians have identified him, “an artist of the impressionist style.” His brushstroke was “original, decided and energetic” and he is responsible for the vast majority of the illustrations in the codex. With a different and less successful style, we find the third monk who participated in the Bible. He is clearly identified thanks to a peculiar characteristic: he had a propensity to make round faces, a bit full and utilised tools like the compass and the drawing pen to trace straight and curved lines.

The Bible of Ripoll is a large format volume (550x370mm) that contains 465 folios. More than the Sacred Scriptures, the codex includes 210 prologues, summaries and other introductory texts that make the Bible of Ripoll a type of “great illustrated medieval encyclopaedia.” The “font” of the texts is the pure Carolingian script by the monk Guifré (Wilfred), the only copyist of this work. The impressive miniatures and drawings in the work are renowned: we find 20 folios completely illustrated with miniatures that inspired the iconography of the lauded Portal of the monastery.

However, the Bible of Ripoll wasn't the only bible to come out of the rich workshop of the monastery. The first quarter of the 11th century was prolific and, in total, there were three codices of this type made in Ripoll. In modern times only two are preserved, as the other copy disappeared in a fire in 1835.
The Bible of Ripoll was copied in the workshop and moved to Marseilles by the monks of the Monestir de Sant Víctor when the two abbeys were joined in 1070. Finally, in the 12th century, the manuscript was taken to the Vatican thanks to the nephew of Pau V, and guarded in the Vatican Apostolic Library.

The third codex is known as the Bible of Rodes and was a gift of the Abbot Oliba from the Monestir de Sant Pere de Rodes with the motive of consecrating his monastic church (1022). This copy was stolen in the 17th century by the French marshal Noailles during the looting of the monastery and later sold to the king Lluís XV.

The Bible of Rodes is written on vellum in what is known as pure Carolingian script. Originally it had 566 folios that, in the 18th century in the hands of the French, were divided into four volumes. The artistic richness of the miniatures was important in and of itself but above all, for the great influence it had in inspiring Romanesque painting and sculpture. Art historians assume that the illustrations of the Bible inspired a fresco of the Crucifixion of Christ recovered from the cloister of Sant Pere de Rodes, some of the historic capitals (today in the National Museum of the Middle Ages of Paris) and scenes from the magnificent portal of Ripoll. It is now conserved in the National Library of France.

In 2002 and 2007, about a thousand years after its original edition, the two copies were reedited in copied version.

Plan your visit

What can I do?
  • Learn about the entire context of the Bible of Ripoll and the Bible of Rodes with a visit to the monastery of Santa Maria de Ripoll, one of the Romanesque cultural reference centers.
  • Complete the discovery of the Bible of Rodes with a visit to the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes.
Vatican Apostolic Library 
Cortile del Belvedere V VA VA, 
00120, Vatican City
Tel. (+39) 0669879411
National Library of France 
Quai François Mauriac
75706 Paris (France)
Tel. (+33)  1 53 79 59 59
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