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Medieval Manuscripts: Gradual of Gisela von Kerssenbrock

Medieval Manuscripts: Gradual of Gisela von Kerssenbrock


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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.

Our thanks to Facsimile Finder for helping us create this post. You can learn more about this manuscript and see more images by visiting their website.

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