Fishy Letters

A rare illuminated Merovingian codex, the Vatican Gelasian Sacramentary, is the major new addition among 31 manuscripts brought online at Digita Vaticana on December 22.

The sacramentary is a liturgical book that contains the key parts of the mass as celebrated in about 750 CE. It was superseded by a new sacramentary when Charlemagne called for standardization by Rome, and that in turn was later replaced by the Roman Missal. The attribution of this sacramentary text to poor old Pope Gelasius is as spurious as his link to the forged Gelasian Decree.

The colourful miniatures of this codex, probably made at Paris, comprise elaborate crosses and ingenious animal lettering. Most other surviving Merovingian codices are quite plain with no illumination, but the sacramentaries are something special. There's an even more elaborate one, Latin 12048, at Paris (hat tip to Mare Nostrum for alerting me to this). Here is how the Vatican codex treats the word "noverit" on folio 132r, assembling it out of birds and fish:
More mysterious was this fishy "Deus" at fol. 173r. This line of text begins: "Deus qui diligentibus ..." according to the Wilson edition.
But I did not get the riddle of why it means Deus. Help anyone? [Twitter always has the answers. @BillyGrammar was managing the @dpa_intl feed when he saw this and promptly replied:
@Archivalia_kg retweeted the question and in similar vein @Irizaurus answered:
So it seems settled that D-S has been compacted, perhaps as a nominum sacrum (a reverent abbreviation of a holy name) or as a pun (say D-S and it sounds like Deus, a pun also applied to the old Citroen DS car). The observation was also offered that the fishy decoration seems very Irish, so I am favouring humour as the likely reason.]

The codex also contains amazing naive-art beasts like this tiger-donkey on the previous page:

These are possibly the last uploads of 2015. These postings brings the front-page total to 3,451. The Pal.lat. series has already been placed online in Germany in the past and is not commented on here.
  1. Pal.lat.817,
  2. Pal.lat.926,
  3. Pal.lat.952,
  4. Pal.lat.953,
  5. Pal.lat.954,
  6. Pal.lat.955,
  7. Pal.lat.956,
  8. Pal.lat.957,
  9. Pal.lat.958,
  10. Pal.lat.977,
  11. Pal.lat.989,
  12. Pal.lat.991,
  13. Pal.lat.992,
  14. Pal.lat.992,
  15. Pal.lat.994,
  16. Pal.lat.995,
  17. Pal.lat.998,
  18. Pal.lat.1006,
  19. Pal.lat.1017,
  20. Pal.lat.1068,
  21. Reg.lat.316, Gelasian Sacramentary (above).
  22. Vat.lat.396, John Chrysostom, homilies
  23. Vat.lat.407, John Chrysostom, homilies
  24. Vat.lat.410, John Chrysostom, homilies
  25. Vat.lat.414.pt.1, first of a three-volume collection: Augustine, 13th century, France. Mobius 
  26. Vat.lat.414.pt.2, ditto, second of three
  27. Vat.lat.415, Augustine, De Trinitate and various
  28. Vat.lat.3200, Dante, Commedia, with this fine beard
    Contains an apparently spurious statement on the final folio placing Dante's tomb in the wrong Ravenna church. Of course, with all the skulduggery over that body, who knows if it is not right?
  29. Vat.lat.3438, Fulvio Orsini
  30. Vat.lat.4820, with a little booklet bound in at the end, by Angelo Colocci, tabulating Provencal chansons (ff 81r–104r)
  31. Vat.lat.4938, Augustine on Psalms, 8th-century uncial from northern Italy. Mobius
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