Vita Christi (English: Life of Christ) is an illuminated manuscript containing over 100 hand painted images illustrating the life of Christ.
Though the manuscript does document the chronological life of Christ, it is not a straightforward biography of Christ’s time on Earth but rather a historical commentary woven with theological insight, life instructions, meditation and prayers.
Throughout the medieval period, it was widely believed that a personal connection with God could be formed through prayer and religious study. The Vita Christi was used as an instructional manual for Christianity which aimed to stimulate thoughtful reflection about how to lead an ideal and pious life.
The manuscript is thought to have been created in two different eras. The first batch of about half the images is thought to originate from the end of the twelfth century, whilst the second batch is thought to have been added in the late fifteenth century.
The manuscript was created by Ludolph of Saxony, a Carthusian monk born in Saxony. Ludolph lived in 14th century Mainz where he wrote the Vita Christi amongst other works.
Many editions of the Vita Christi were made, in Latin amongst other languages, the first of which was published in Germany in 1474.
In Portugal, the manuscript was translated by Cistercian monks of the Alcobaca Abbey in the first half of the 15th century and painted in 1495 by order of Queen D. Leonor.
A copy of the Vita Christi was sold in London by Sotheby’s on December 4 2007. The manuscript sold for £1,700,500.
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