Leaf from the "Psalter of St. Romuald"

Leaf from the "Psalter of St. Romuald"

Collection ID





ca. AD 850


Northern Italy




Vellum, ink


12.4 × 8.3 in. (31.6 × 21.2 cm)

Exhibit Location

On view in The History of the Bible, Translating the Bible


Sometimes perception is more important than fact, as in the case of this leaf from a Carolingian psalter. Long after this manuscript was produced, St. Romuald (ca. 950–1027) founded a monastery at Camaldoli, Tuscany. His successor, St. Peter Damian (1007–1072), wrote a biography of Romuald. In it, he claimed that Romuald had a dream in which God commanded him to make a psalter with commentary. A century or so later, monks found this psalter in their library and concluded that it was the manuscript that Peter Damian mentioned. Therefore, people believed it was a relic of St. Romuald and removed leaves from the manuscript. Someone removed this leaf before 1750. The leaf contains Psalms 99:3–4 and 100:1–8, plus commentary.


Created in the mid-9th century AD in the monastery at Camaldoli, Tuscany, and later attributed to St. Romuald.[1] The manuscript was still in the monastery in 1750, but this page was missing.[2] Acquired by Giovanni di Poggio Baldovinetti (1695–1772); Acquired by the Florentine antiquary Domenico Manni (1690–1788).[3] Acquired by Aldo Olschki (1893–1963) along with other items formerly owned by Domenico Manni. Acquired by Rosenthal and Bernard Quaritch.[4] Acquired by Martin Schøyen; Purchased at auction in 2012 by the Green Collection, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Donated in 2013 to Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC.

Notes: [1] Jean Mabillon, "Museum Italicum," 1687, II,
https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k579721/f216.item.zoom (input the number 181 to find the page). Jean Mabillon saw the psalter in the sacristy of the monastery of Camaldoli, in March 1686 and recorded the belief of the community at Camaldoli that it had been written by the saint himself. It is unclear from his writing whether the manuscript was complete at that time. [2] In 1750, a German visitor to Camaldoli, Magnoald Ziegelbauer, wrote a description of the monastery’s library, "Centifolium Camaldulense," in which he mentions that superstitious people had removed several leaves of the psalter as relics. Ziegelbauer said that the manuscript was complete from Psalm 1-90, but the line he quoted as ending it is actually 99:3 “scitote quoniam Dominus ipse est Deus,” which means that our fragment was the missing next page. https://books.google.com/books?id=qpLUVkiAFsoC&pg=PA81&lpg=PA81&dq=centifolia+camaldulensis&source=bl&ots=RVPKhm2u-_&sig=cL98ohWh3z0gkU1xGBVcPyqAbxQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj_gNfC0KbSAhVJVWMKHUKgCrQQ6AEIMTAF#v=onepage&q=centifolia%20camaldulensis&f=false [3] The early eighteenth-century paper label in Italian at the top of the fragment records that Giovanni di Poggio Baldovinetti (1695–1772) discovered it along with other relics and showed it to the Florentine antiquary Domenico Manni (1690–1788), who apparently added it to his collection. [4] Rosenthal and Quaritch, "Bookhands of the Middle Ages V," cat.1147 (1991), no.5.

Selected References:

C. de Hamel, "'The Leaf Book', Disbound and Dispersed, the Leaf Book Considered," (Newberry Library and Caxton Club, 2005), 23, n.3

M. Gibson, "Carolingian Glossed Psalters", in "The Early Medieval Bible", (Cambridge University Press, 1993), 86, with illustration.

Museum of the Bible Publications:

Jennifer Atwood and Stacey Douglas, eds. "Passages: Exploring the Bible in Four Movements. An Exhibition Guide". (Museum of the Bible. 2015), 67.

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