Ladder to Heaven at the BAV

Among the more remarkable items to be admire in the 13 codices placed online March 23 by Digita Vaticana is Ross.251 containing the Ladder of Divine Ascent by the 7th-century Greek-speaking monk John Climacus.

I am told this is Lenten reading among Greek-speaking Christians. There are some vivid illuminations in this Greek manuscript giving you a good idea of how medieval readers imagined the long steady climb through 30 steps of the ladder, assisted by angels if you were doing it right:

This crop of releases takes the tally of Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (BAV) digitizations so far to 1,865. After this Lenten issue, I wonder if they are planning any Easter presents for us?
  1. Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.H.56, possibly from the collection of Cardinal Jacopo Stefaneschi (c.1270–1343).
  2. Ott.lat.3119, engravings of Roman personalities of the 18th century.
  3. Reg.lat.321: a fine old 10th-century manuscript of the poems of the Latin author Prudentius (348-405).
  4. Ross.251, with the ladder to heaven (above). Pinakes tells you which folios to consult for the Scala Paradisi of Iohannes Climacus.
  5. Ross.555, a beautiful Hebrew codex with four fine Italian miniatures. From Evelyn Cohen I read that this is Jacob ben Asher's legal treatise, the Arba'ah Turim, and that the images depict a synagogue scene, animals being slaughtered according to Jewish ritual, a wedding and a courtroom scene. Here is the synagogue, where men and women seem to be mixed:
  6. Urb.gr.2, the Urbino Gospels in Greek with gold-leaf illuminations. Here is a most unusual Nativity composition and washing of the newborn, both at folio 20v:
  7. Urb.gr.162
  8. Urb.lat.346, Commentary on the Aeneid, 15th-century copy, attributed to Tiberius Claudius Donatus, but believed in fact to be the work of Suetonius.
  9. Urb.lat.508, poetry from Duke Federico's collection. This item figured in the Rome Reborn exhibition at the US Library of Congress and St Louis University, where the catalogue identified it as the Camaldulensian Disputations by Cristoforo Landino and Anthony Grafton noted of the image below: "This portrait on the inside cover shows Federigo, duke of Urbino, standing behind a parapet holding a book, gazing intently at his companion, who is probably to be identified with Cristoforo Landino."
    Federico always appeared thus: check another image at his old home.
  10. Vat.gr.344
  11. Vat.gr.699, the Christian Topography of Cosmas Indicopleustes, one of the believers in a flat earth in the face of majority educated opinion in even his own day. This is a 9th-century illuminated copy with copious imagery.
  12. Vat.gr.746.pt.1
  13. Vat.lat.14933, Carlo Labruzzi vedute, possibly a volume inadvertently missed last week.
 If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to Digita Vaticana. [This is Piggin's Unofficial List 7.]

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