Codex Vercellensis

A small note on the “forerunner” of the book, the codex, highlighting a jewel of our Western culture, the CODEX VERCELLENSIS.

The intention is to give two points for reflection, one purely historical with respect to the artifact and the other linked to the cultural temperament of the person who conceived it, Saint Eusebius of Vercelli.

The code in question has a peculiarity that makes it very rare, made in the fourth century, is the oldest text on the Gospels in Latin existing.

It consists of 634 pages in thin parchment with a handwriting in beautiful onciale with rare abbreviations according to ancient use.

The layout is in two columns with current title on each page.

In 885, given the wear and tear due to continuous liturgical use, it was safeguarded by a gold and silver ligation wanted by Berengario.

A letter from Ambrose of Milan shows how Eusebius had organized the clergy according to the monastic style also giving importance to the emanuenses for the drafting of sacred texts, and hence the commission of the code in question in which the bishop of Vercelli himself participated in the revision. A text translated from Greek or more likely copied from another Latin model compared with a Greek one.

The cultural element that deserves attention is the fact that from the code we move on to evaluate how our western Christian culture is directly connected to the African Christian culture.

The sense of the historical/artistic respect of the artifact confronts us with questions and confronts us with memory and respect for it.

Today we are witnessing indifference towards certain traditions because they are considered distant from us and because they are outside the European Union without dwelling on what we have within us in our days with respect to the children of Africa.

I don’t think it’s a pindaric flight to link us through the valorization of Vercelli’s code to the destiny of the man who wanted it.

Saint Eusebius was a man of great culture and a great opponent of Arianism, a cleric who passed through the vicissitudes of his time across several continents, from Europe to Africa and Asia.

He was a leading figure at the Council of Arles.

The first Council of the Gauls in Arles in 314 met to support a typically African problem, that of the Donatist schism. It is proof of the ties that existed at that time between the Churches of the north and south of the western Mediterranean. But it is also proof of the small size of the Churches of the North, which, by bringing together bishops of Italy, Gaul, Spain and Brittany, to which African bishops were added, could bring together a number of participants far inferior to that of contemporary African councils.

Eusebius of Vercelli would then be decisive in the Council of Alexandria in 362 where he strenuously defended the creed of Nicea and passed from Antioch to Asia Minor, Thrace, Illyrian where he published the decisions of the Council.

The great tenacity of Eusebius made it so that in Europe on his return to Italy he also brought African/Asian costumes or what remained of them in the iconologies and artifacts as in the Simulacrum of the black Madonna of Oropa that the legend wished the bishop to bring from those distant places.

A Madonna that represents the mystery of the Purification of Mary and the Presentation in the Temple to overcome those remains of paganism and to replace in the Oropa Valley the Celtic beliefs of the erratic boulders with the cult of the Mother of God.

Here, then, is how to interpret a work of art, seeing its links with history and taking inspiration from different perspectives but linked to each other to face new constructive comparisons.

A rare code that is a witness of connections with people and the times that created it and that makes us meditate on what we are today even through roads that we often forget.

WHERE THIS WORK IS LOCATED :,8.4207708,16z/data=!4m12!1m6!3m5!1s0x47864c61be08fe0d:0x391df1258fddba75!2sBiblioteca+Capitolare!8m2!3d45.329701!4d8.423074!3m4!1s0x47864c61be08fe0d:0x391df1258fddba75!8m2!3d45.329701!4d8.423074

Vercelli (Italia)


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