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Only a few women in history devoted their lives to writing and illuminating manuscripts. Gisela von Kerssenbrock, a nun living in a remote village of 14th-century Germany, was one of them.
Gisela von Kerssenbrock did not just direct the choir of the Marienbrunn Cistercian convent, in what is now north-west Germany. She personally penned and decorated the Hymn Books her fellow nuns followed during mass.
The manuscript that made her famous is known as Gradual of Gisela von Kerssenbrock, a liturgical chant book sparkling with gold and enriched with 53 historiated initials depicting the life of Christ in elegant courtly Gothic style.
Gisela also left a trace of her own life experience onto the manuscript: the Christmas and Easter illuminations include images of kneeling nuns, and one of them in particular features Gisela herself directing the choir.
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