• italian
  • english

ArtCodex atelier del codice miniato

The Pontifical of Boniface IX

ms. vat. lat. 3747 (end of 14th century)
conserved in the Vatican Apostolic Library - Vatican City
biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana


A gem of sacred art: The Pontifical of Boniface IX, a masterpiece of medieval art conserved at the Vatican Apostolic Library, distinguishes itself in the panorama of illuminated codices thanks to the imagination and brilliant creativity of the illuminators.
This splendid codex, containing the ritual and prayers of the papal services, is composed of 88 richly illuminated pages, which give rise to the enchanting splendor of the gold and vivid colors.
Why the Pontifical of Boniface IX? The first facsimile, a worldwide exclusive, created with pure gold leaf (23kt), certified by the Vatican Apostolic Library and signed by the Prefect Mons. Raffaele Farina.
Very rich iconographic setting: 11 full-page illuminations (31x21cm) with scenes that describe the ceremonies of papal vestments.
An exclusive document of the papal magnificence of Rome in the period of the Avignonese captivity.
The first exemplar of the Vatican Collection, created in co-edition with the Vatican Apostolic Library.
The illuminations: The codex, realized during the Pontificate of Boniface IX (1389-1404), offers a luxurious iconographic setting: the greater part of the folios are decorated with illuminated initials and refined frames, embellished by gold and adorned with intensely colored anthropomorphic elements.
Completing the spectacularity that distinguishes this manuscript, there are then 11 splendid full-page illuminations, sparkling with gold.
The historical artistic importance of the codex: The Pontifical of Boniface IX is a work of art that is characterized by important historical values: the images depicted, describing in minute detail the papal ceremonies, render to history some lost details regarding the clothing and accessories adopted in the 14th-century liturgical celebrations.
It is interesting to observe the presence of references to the figurative art of the famous 14th-century masters.
The most illustrious example is represented by the illumination of folio 39v, depicting Boniface IX in front of a crowd during the Benedictio coram populo: an illumination that brings to mind the famous fragment of Giotto’s fresco in Saint John Lateran, where the painter depicts the reunion of the people in front of Pope Boniface VIII, on the occasion of the promulgation of the first Jubilee of 1300.

Characteristics of the facsimile

  • Integral reproduction in pure 23kt gold, on carta Pergamena®, of the Codex Vat. Lat. 3747 conserved at the Vatican Apostolic Library
  • Volume format: 31 x 21 cm
  • 88 pages with leather cover, complete with the coat of arms, engraved in gold, of Pope Boniface IX
  • Binding done entirely by hand, with respect for the trimming of the pages and the colors of the headband
  • Slipcase in select wood
  • Printing of 500 numbered and certified copies
  • Volume of commentary compiled by the Scientific Committee coordinated by the Vatican Apostolic Library

Pure 23 kt Gold

The pure gold, rendered with the patented ArtCodex® system, is presented in relief as in the original codex, as though it had undergone the effect of time. Each detail is reproduced faithfully, from the engravings to the designs on the gold, from the brush-decorated gold dust to the gold-plating with pure 23kt gold leaf: the splendid effect obtained is that of a harmonic chromatic fusion between the gold details and the brilliant iconographic elements of the illuminations.

Binding and cover

The process of binding the codices is accomplished by utilizing the practices of the antique artisan bookbinderies. The techniques, employed in handicraft workshops that still preserve the antique manual press, correspond to the hand sewing of the headband and folios, with an absolute respect for the foliation of the manuscript pages. Lastly, the cover is reproduced in facsimile with a scrupulous respect for all the characteristics of the original: each process is carried out by hand, while respecting the collation of the codex and adopting materials of the time.

The cartaPergamena®

The kind of parchmented paper adopted, whose peculiarity guarantees that each single folio is equal to the original, is produced by a trusted paper factory: the cartaPergamena® paper parchment, following a treatment of “ageing,” recreates the same effect of movement that the passage of time has caused on the original. The color of the parchment is then faithfully reproduced during the printing: each sign of the time - such as the folds, spots, and transparencies - is reproposed exactly, contributing to provide the codex with the same impression of antiquity that characterized the medieval manuscript.