Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012 Litany Lane Blog: parable, Matthew 13:47-53, St Eusebius of Vercelli, Vercelli

Thursday, August 2, 2012
parable, Matthew 13:47-53, St Eusebius of Vercelli, Vercelli

Good Day Bloggers! 
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week! 

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7..

We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012

Today's Word:  parable    par·a·ble  [par-uh-buh]

Origin:  1275–1325; Middle English parabil  < Late Latin parabola  comparison, parable, word < Greek parabolḗ  comparison, equivalent to para- para-1  + bolḗ  a throwing

1. a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson.
2. a statement or comment that conveys a meaning indirectly by the use of comparison, analogy, or the like.

Today's Gospel Reading - Matthew 13: 47-53

Jesus said to the people: 'Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet that is cast in the sea and brings in a haul of all kinds of fish. When it is full, the fishermen bring it ashore; then, sitting down, they collect the good ones in baskets and throw away those that are no use. This is how it will be at the end of time: the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the upright, to throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. 'Have you understood all these?' They said, 'Yes.' And he said to them, 'Well then, every scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of Heaven is like a householder who brings out from his storeroom new things as well as old.' When Jesus had finished these parables he left the district.

• The Gospel today presents the last parable of the Discourse of the Parables, the story of the dragnet thrown into the sea. This parable is found only in the Gospel of Matthew without any parallel in the other three Gospels.

• Matthew 13,47-48: The parable of the dragnet cast into the sea. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet that is cast into the sea and brings in a whole haul of all kinds of fish. When it is full, the fishermen haul it ashore; then sitting down; they collect the good ones in baskets and throw away those that are no use”. This story is well known by the people of Galilee who live around the lake. This is their work. The story shows clearly the end of a day of work. The fishermen go fishing with only one purpose: to cast the net and to catch a great number of fish, to haul the net ashore and to choose the good fish to take home and to throw away those that are no good. Describe the satisfaction of the fishermen, at the end of the day of a day, being very tired having worked hard. This story must have brought a smile of satisfaction on the face of the fishermen who listened to Jesus. The worse thing is to arrive to the shore at the end of the day without having caught anything (Jn 21,3).

• Matthew 13,49-50: The application of the parable. Jesus applies the parable, or better still gives a suggestion in order that persons can discuss and apply the parable to their life: “This is how it will be at the end of time, the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the upright, to throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth”. How are we to understand this blazing furnace? These are very strong images to describe the destiny of those who separate themselves from God or who do not want to know anything about God. In every city there is a place where to throw the garbage every day. There is a permanent furnace nourished every day by the garbage of every day. The garbage place in Jerusalem was located in a valley called geena, where, at the time of the kings, there was a furnace even to sacrifice to the false gods of Molok. For this reason, the furnace of geena becomes the symbol of exclusion and of condemnation. God is not the one who excludes. God does not want the exclusion and the condemnation of anyone; he wants that all may have life and life in abundance. Each one of us excludes himself/herself.

• Matthew 13,51-53: The end of the discourse of the Parables. At the end of the discourse of the Parables, Jesus concludes with the following question: "Have you understood these things?” They answered: “Yes”. And Jesus finishes the explanation with another comparison which describes the result which he wants to obtain through the parables: “Well, then, every Scribe who becomes a disciple of the Kingdom of Heaven is like a householder who brings out from his storeroom new things as well as old”. 

Two points to clarify:

(a) Jesus compares the doctor of the law to the father in the family. What does the father of the family do? “He brings out from his treasure new things and old things”. Education at home takes place through the transmission to the sons and daughters of what the parents have received and learnt along the time. It is the treasure of the family wisdom where the richness of faith is enclosed, the customs of life and many other things that the children learn with time. Now Jesus wants that in the community the persons who are responsible for the transmission of faith be as the father in the family. Just like the parents are responsible for the life of the family, in the same way, these persons who are responsible for the teaching should understand the things of the Kingdom and transmit it to the brothers and sisters in the community.

(b) Here there is the question of a doctor of the law who becomes a disciple of the Kingdom. Therefore, there were doctors of the law who accepted Jesus, and saw in him the one who revealed the Kingdom. Is this what happened to a doctor when he discovers the Messiah in Jesus, the Son of God? Everything which he has studied to be able to be a doctor of the law continues to be valid, but it receives a deeper dimension and a broader purpose. A comparison can clarify what has just been said. In a group of friends one shows a photo, where one sees a man with a severe face, with his finger up, almost attacking the public. Everybody thinks that it is a question of an inflexible person, demanding, who does not allow for any intimacy. At that moment a young boy arrives, he sees the photo and exclaims: “He is my father!” The others look at him and comment: “A severe Father, true?” He answers: “No, and no! He is very affectionate. My father is a lawyer. That photo was taken in the tribunal, while he was denouncing the crime of a great landowner who wanted a poor family to abandon their home where they had lived for many years! My father won the cause. And the poor family remained in the house!” All looked at him again and said: “What a pleasant person!” Almost like a miracle the photo enlightened from within and assumed a different aspect. That very severe face acquired the features of great tenderness! The words of the son, the result of his experience of being the son, changed everything, without changing anything! The words and the gestures of Jesus, result of his experience as a Son, without changing a letter or a comma, enlightened from within the wisdom accumulated by the doctor of the law. And thus, God who seemed to be so far away and so severe acquired the features of a good Father and of enormous tenderness!

Personal questions
• Has the experience of Son entered in you and changed your look, making you discover the things of God in a different way?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,

Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane

Saint of the Day:  St. Eusebius of Vercelli

Feast Day: August 2
Died: 371
Patron Saint of : Vercelli, Italy

Eusebius of Vercelli (c. March 2, 283 – August 1, 371) was a bishop and saint in Italy. Along with Athanasius, he affirmed the divinity of Jesus against Arianism.


Born in Sardinia, he was a lector in Rome before he became the first bishop in Vercelli (in northern Italy), probably sometime in the early- to mid-340s. According to a letter of Ambrose to the congregation in Vercelli two decades after Eusebius' death, the local leaders recognized his piety and thus elected him rather than local candidates (Epistola lxiii, Ad Vercellenses). At some point he led his clergy to form a monastic community modelled on that of the Eastern cenobites (Ambrose, Ep. lxxxi and Serm. lxxxix). For this reason the Canons Regular of St. Augustine honor him along with Augustine as their founder (Proprium Canon. Reg., 16 December).

In 354, Pope Liberius asked Eusebius to join Bishop Lucifer of Cagliari in carrying a request to the Emperor Constantius II at Milan, pleading for the emperor to convoke a council to end the dissentions over the status of Athanasius of Alexandria and the matter of Arianism. The synod was held in Milan in 355. Eusebius attended part of the council, but refused to condemn Athanasius and so was exiled, first to Scythopolis in Syria, under the watchful eye of the Arian bishop Patrophilus, whom Eusebius calls his jailer, then to Cappadocia, and lastly to the Thebaid, in Upper Egypt. Several letters surrounding the council written to or by Eusebius still survive, as do two letters written by him during his exile.

On the accession of Julian, the exiled bishops were free to return to their sees, in 362. Eusebius passed through Alexandria and there attended Athanasius' synod of 362 which confirmed the divinity of the Holy Ghost and the orthodox doctrine concerning the Incarnation. The synod also agreed both to deal mildly with the repentant bishops who had signed Arianizing creeds under pressure and to impose severe penalties upon the leaders of several of the Arianizing factions.

While still on his way home, Eusebius took the synod's decisions to Antioch and hoped to reconcile the schism there. The church was divided between adherents of Eustathius of Antioch, who had been deposed and exiled by the Arians in 331, and those of the Meletians. Since Meletius' election in 361 was brought about chiefly by the Arians, the Eustathians would not recognize him, although he solemnly proclaimed his orthodox faith after his episcopal consecration. The Alexandrian synod had desired that Eusebius should reconcile the Eustathians with Bishop Meletius, by purging his election of whatever might have been irregular in it, but Eusebius found that Lucifer of Cagliari had also passed that way, and had unilaterally consecrated Paulinus, the leader of the Eustathians, as Bishop of Antioch.

Unable to reconcile the factions, he continued towards home, visiting other churches along the way in the interest of promulgating and enforcing the orthodox faith. Once back in Vercelli in 363, he continued to be a leader with Hilary of Poitiers in defeating Arianism in the Western Church, and was one of the chief opponents of the Arian bishop Auxentius of Milan. He died in 370 or 371. Later legends of his martyrdom have no historical basis. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates his feast on August 2.[2] His former feast day of December 16 roughly coincided with his elevation as bishop. His current feast day roughly coincides with the anniversary of his death. Vercelli Cathedral is dedicated to him.


A part of the Codex Vercellensis, believed to have been written by Eusebius in the year 370.
The Catholic Encyclopedia gives the following: three short letters of Eusebius are printed in Migne, Pat.Lat., XII, 947-54 and X, 713-14. Jerome (Of Famous Men, c. lvi, and Epstle li, n. 2) ascribes to him a Latin translation of a commentary on the Psalms, written originally in Greek by Eusebius of Caesarea; but this work has been lost. There is preserved in the cathedral at Vercelli the Codex Vercellensis, the earliest manuscript of the old Latin Gospels ("Codex a"), which was believed to have been written by Eusebius, thought now scholars tend to doubt it [3]. It was published by Irico (Milan 1748) and Bianchini (Rome, 1749), and is reprinted in Migne, Patrologia Latina XII, 9-948; a new edition was brought out by Belsheim (Christiania, 1894). Krüger (Lucifer, Bischof von Calaris, Leipzig, 1886, 118-30) ascribes to Eusebius a baptismal oration by Caspari (Quellen sur Geschichte des Taufsymbols, Christiania, 1869, II, 132-40). The confession of faith "Des. Trinitate confessio", P.L., XII, 959-968, sometimes ascribed to Eusebius, is spurious.
A modern edition of his writings is found in the 9th volume of Corpus Christianorum - Series Latina.[4]

References: Courtesy of the Catholic Online, and Courtesy of Wikipedia,

    1. ^ "Book of Martyrs," New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1948
    2. ^ "Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 148
    3. ^ As the text of the Bible presented in the manuscript differs from the one Eusebius uses, cfr. J. VEZIN, ‘Les livres utilisés comme amulettes et reliques’ in: Das Buch als magisches und als repräsentationsobjekt, ed. by P. Ganz (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 1992), 107-115.
    4. ^
  • Fourth Century Christianity: Eusebius of Vercelli
  • Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Eusebius (of Vercelli)
  • His writings
  • Santi e beati: Sant' Eusebio di Vercelli (Italian)


  • N. Everett, "Narrating the Life of Eusebius of Vercelli", in R. Balzaretti and E.M. Tyler (eds), Narrative and History in the Early Medieval West (Turnhout, 2006: Brepols), pp. 133–165.

Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane


Today's Snippet:  Town of Vercelli, Cathedral and Library

Vercelli Plaza
Vercelli is a city and comune of about 47,000 inhabitants in the Province of Vercelli, Piedmont, northern Italy. One of the oldest urban sites in northern Italy, it was founded, according to most historians, around the year 600 BC.

The city is situated on the river Sesia in the plain of the river Po between Milan and Turin. It is an important centre for the cultivation of rice, and is surrounded by paddy fields, which are flooded in summer. The climate is typical of the Po Valley with cold, foggy winters (0.4 °C (33 °F) in January) and oppressive heat during the summer months (23.45 °C (74 °F) in July). Rainfall is most prevalent during the spring and autumn; thunderstorms are common in the summer.

The world's first university funded by public money was established in Vercelli in 1228. Today it has a university of literature and philosophy as a part of the Università del Piemonte Orientale and a satellite campus of the Politecnico di Torino.


Vercellae (Vercelum) was the capital of the Libici or Lebecili, a Ligurian tribe; it became an important municipium, near which Gaius Marius defeated the Cimbri and the Teutones in the Battle of Vercellae nearby in 101 BCE.

Imperial magister militum Flavius Stilicho annihilated the Goths there 500 years later. It was half ruined in St. Jerome's time (olim potens, nunc raro habitatore semiruta (1, 3.1)). After the Lombard invasion it belonged to the Duchy of Ivrea. From 885 it was under the jurisdiction of the prince-bishop, who was a Count of the Empire.

It became an independent commune in 1120, and joined the first and second Lombard leagues. Its statutes are among the most interesting of those of the medieval republics. In 1197 they abolished the servitude of the glebe. In 1228 the University of Pavia was transferred to Vercelli, where it remained till the fourteenth century, but without gaining much prominence; only a university school of law has been maintained.
In 1307 Fra Dolcino the leader of the Dulcinian was tortured and burned at the stake.

During the troubles of the 13th century it fell into the power of the Della Torre of Milan (1263), of the Marquesses of Monferrato (1277), who appointed Matteo I Visconti captain (1290–1299). The Tizzoni (Ghibellines) and Avogadri (Guelphs) disputed the city from 1301 to 1334, the latter party being expelled several times, thus enabling the Marquess of Monferrato to take Vercelli (1328), which voluntarily placed itself under the Viscount of Milan in 1334. In 1373 Bishop Giovanni Fieschi expelled the Visconti, but Matteo reconquered the city. Facino Cane (1402), profiting by the strife between Giovanni Maria and Filippo Maria Visconti, took Vercelli, but was driven out by Theodore II of Montferrat (1404), from whom the city passed to the dukes of Savoy (1427).

In 1499 and 1553 it was captured by the French, and in 1616 and 1678 by the Spaniards. In 1704 it sustained an energetic siege by the French, who failed to destroy the fortress; after this it shared the fortunes of Savoy. In 1821 Vercelli rose in favour of the Constitution.

Main sights

Vercelli is home to numerous relics of the Roman period, e.g. an amphitheatre, hippodrome, sarcophagi, and many important inscriptions, some of which are Christian. Vercelli is home to numerous relics of the Roman period, e.g. an amphitheatre, hippodrome, sarcophagi, and many important inscriptions, some of which are Christian.  There are two noteworthy towers in the town: the Torre dell’Angelo, which rears up over the old market square, and the Torre di Città in Via Gioberti.

Vercelli Cathedral, formerly adorned with precious pillars and mosaics, was erected and enlarged by Saint Eusebius of Vercelli, to whom it was dedicated after his death. It was remodelled in the ninth century, and radically changed in the sixteenth by Count Alfieri. Like the other churches in the city, it contains valuable paintings, especially those of Gaudenzio Ferrari, Gerolamo Giovenone and Lanino, who were natives of Vercelli. The cathedral library holds the famous Vercelli Book—an Old English manuscript which includes the celebrated alliterative poem The Dream of the Rood, the 8th-century Laws of the Lombards, and other early manuscripts.

The Basilica di Sant'Andrea was erected by Cardinal Guala Bicchieri in 1219. Together with the old Cistercian monastery, it is one of the most beautiful and best-preserved Romanesque monuments in Italy.
The Moorish Revival 1878 Vercelli Synagogue is at Via Foà 70. Among other noteworthy churches is Santa Maria Maggiore. The Institute of the Beaux-Arts contains paintings by Vercellese artists. Ancient charitable institutions continue, such as the hospital founded by Cardinal Guala Bicchieri (1224), which has an annual revenue of more than 600,000 lire ($117,000); and the hospices for orphan girls (1553) and for boys (1542), and mendicant homes.

The Capitulary Library contains valuable manuscripts, including an evangelarium of the fourth century, the "Novels" of Justinian, the Leges Langobardorum (Laws of the Lombards - Germanic); also hagiographical manuscripts, not all of which have been critically examined; and a very old copy of the Imitation of Christ, which is relied upon as an argument for attributing the authorship to John Gersen and finally the famous Vercelli Book. The civil archives are not less important, and contain documents dating from 882. The extensive seminary contains a large library.  Vercelli is seat of the Viotti International Music Competition.


The typical dish is rice with beans, called panissa (Maratelli rice) , the tartufata (cake) and the bicciolani a type of biscuits. The typical wine is Gattinara DOCG, a classic red wine of Piedmont made principally from the nebbiolo grape (known locally as spanna) from the comune of Gattinara, where there is archaeological evidence of vines being grown in Roman times.


Unione Sportiva Pro Vercelli that was one of the most successful football clubs in Italy in the early 20th century, winning the national championship seven times between 1908 and 1922, on the summer 2010 has not been admitted to the league for the heavy debt. A.S. Pro Belvedere Vercelli to continue the glorious history of the club, has changed its name to the F.C. Pro Vercelli 1892. Currently it plays in the Lega Pro Prima Divisione.

Twin towns

  • France Arles, France
  • Spain Tortosa, Spain

Sacro Monte di Varallo

Riserva del Sacro Monte di Varallo, courtesy
The Sacred Mountain of Varallo (Italian: Sacro Monte di Varallo) is the oldest of the Italian and foreign constructions of its kind. It was founded in 1491, by friar Bernardino Caimi of the Ordine dei Minori Osservanti di San Francesco. The Sacro Monte was built on a rocky foundation, positioned on the slopes of Monte Tre Croci (Mount of three crosses), on the left-hand side of the river Sesia, where it leaves Val Mastallone (Piedmont, northern Italy). This natural terrace (600m) soars above the historic centre of Varallo (450m).

The Sacro Monte at Varallo comprises the Basilica and 45 chapels, either isolated or inserted into the large monumental complexes Nazareth, Bethlehem, Pilate’s house, Calvary, Sepulchre and Parella’s house – populated by more than 800 life size painted statues, in wood and terracotta, that dramatically illustrate the life, passion, death and resurrection of Christ. These interiors are vividly decorated with fresco paintings.
The Sacro Monte area is divided into two distinct zones. The first, surrounded by plants, is set out like a sloping garden; here the chapels are positioned at strategic points along the path. Beginning with Adam and Eve or Original Sin, they narrate the story of Christ, from the Annunciation until his arrival in Bethlehem. The second zone, preceded by the Porta Aurea, is located on the summit, and is built up of palazzi and elaborate porticos, built around the two squares; piazza dei Tribunali (piazza civica) and piazza del Tempio (piazza religiosa). The aim here, was to represent the city of Jerusalem; it does indeed have a city feel about it. The chapels narrate the events of Christ's life inside and around the walls of Jerusalem; here are The Last Supper, The Burial, The Resurrection of Christ and The Assumption of the Madonna, to which the basilica is also dedicated. The urban character of this Sacro Monte clearly distinguishes it from the others.


The present layout of the Sacro Monte is the result of a series of interventions carried out from the very end of the 15th century up until the middle of the 19th century. Father Bernardino Caimi, an eminent political and religious man, was the promoter of the Sacro Monte, with the help of rich local families. He had been rector of the Palestinian Holy Places, and an Ambassador to the Spanish court. A plaque tells us that Caimi tried to recreate the “Holy sites, so that who could not go on a pilgrimage might see Jerusalem”. After his death in 1499, father Candido Ranzo and father Francesco da Marignano, continued his work. Helped by Gaudenzio Ferrari from Valduggia (a key figure until 1529 – painter, sculptor and architect), creator of some of the most enthralling of the sacred dramas: The Three Kings and The Crucifixion. The Lanino brothers Giulio Cesare Luini and Fermo Stella da Caravaggio were the executors of his work.

From the middle of the sixteenth-century work began on a total renovation of the site. At the height of the Counter-Reformation, all the events of Jesus’s life were to be represented, the passion and his death. The area was organized into two zones, the predominantly natural lower portion and the summit, destined to represent the City of Jerusalem. From 1570 to 1590 a substantial number of the chapels in the garden area were constructed, the frescoes were finished and the statues added. From 1593 until 1640, organization of the urbanistic, architectural and figurative elements was carried out in the elevated zone. The configuration of the Sacro Monte was taking place; the cardinal points of the first scenes - Nazareth, Bethlehem, Crucifixion and The Burial - were established in the new layout.

From 1565 until 1569 the architect Galeazzo Alessi played a decisive role in the renovation work, as did the Perugian architect Domenico Alfiano (1590 – 1603), and Valsesians Giovanni d’Enrico and Bartolomeo Ravelli (1602 – 1640). The sculptors, Tabacchetti, Giovanni D’Enrico, and painters like il Morazzone, Tanzio, Rocca, the Gherardini brothers, and the Gianoli brothers worked in the same artistic vein; established by Gaudenzio Ferrari. It was, however, Morazzone and the d’Enrico brothers, Giovanni and Tanzio, who helped concretize the gran teatro montano.

Vercelli Cathedral

Vercelli Cathedral

Vercelli Cathedral (Italian: Duomo di Vercelli, Cattedrale di Sant'Eusebio) is the principal church of the city of Vercelli in Piedmont, Italy, and the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Vercelli. It is dedicated to Saint Eusebius of Vercelli, the first bishop.


The present cathedral is built on the site of earlier ones. The construction of the first, in the 4th century, is ascribed to Saint Eusebius himself, who, it is believed, built it over an ancient necropolis containing the remains of Saint Theonestus, to whom Eusebius dedicated it. After Eusebius's death he was buried there himself, and the dedication changed accordingly. This building was destroyed during the Gothic invasions of the 5th century. Its replacement was a large basilica inspired by those of Rome and Ravenna. A major refurbshment was carried out in the 9th century. In the 11th century another major restoration took place, as a consequence of extreme decay and in particular of a serious fire in 997 that threatened the stability of the structure. In the 12th century the present campanile was built, and the main body of the cathedral restored again: it now had five aisles separated by columns, a transept and an imposing portico. The apse was decorated with mosaics, and in the presbytery was an ambo sculpted by Benedetto Antelami.

In the second half of the 16th century Pellegrino Tibaldi of Valsolda was commissioned by the then bishop, Guido Ferrero, to rebuild the cathedral entirely to replace the medieval building, which the bishop had demolished. Tibaldi was able to erect the choir, the side chapels and the two sacristies before lack of funds brought the work to a halt after eight years. In 1682 a chapel to the south was built for the tomb of Blessed Amadeus IX. Between 1702 and 1717 Stefano Negro built the nave, aisles and transept. The remaining parts of the structure, including the west front, were completed in 1757-63 by Benedetto Alfieri and Luigi Barberis, who towards the end of the 18th century also added a chapel off the northern aisle for the relics of Saint Eusebius, which had been discovered during the reconstruction works of the 16th century. This was rebuilt in the late 19th century by Giuseppe Locarni, and the urn containing the remains is now located beneath the high altar. Giovanni Larghi added a dome in 1857-60.

In a chapel off the southern nave are buried not only Blessed Amadeus IX, for whose tomb it was built, but also other members of the ruling house of Savoy, including Charles I, Charles III, Yolande of Valois (wife of Blessed Amadeus) and Victor Amadeus I.

Treasury and library

The cathedral possesses both an important treasury, now a museum, and an important library, housing the Vercelli Book and the Codex Vercellensis.

Vercelli Book

The Vercelli Book is one of the oldest of the four Old English Poetic Codices. It is an anthology of Old English prose and verse that dates back to the late 10th century. The manuscript is housed in the Capitulary Library of Vercelli, in northern Italy


The Vercelli Book contains 23 prose homilies (the Vercelli Homilies) and a prose vita of Saint Guthlac, interspersed with six poems:
  • "Andreas"
  • "The Fates of the Apostles"
  • "Soul and Body"
  • "Dream of the Rood"
  • "Elene"
  • the fragment of a homiletic poem.
The Vercelli Book is one of a group of four major anthologies in Old English. The others are the Junius manuscript (also known as the Caedmon manuscript), the Exeter Book, and the Nowell Codex. The Vercelli Book comprises 135 folios which contain a group of twenty-three homilies, six works in Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse: Andreas, Address of the Soul to the Body, Falseness of Men, Dream of the Rood, two poems by Cynewulf, Elene and The Fates of the Apostles, and a prose Life of Guthlac. Although the manuscript was probably compiled and written in the late 10th century, not all of the texts found in the manuscript were originally written at that time. The poems ascribed to Cynewulf could have been created much earlier.


The book is a parchment manuscript of the end of the tenth century, containing a miscellany, or florilegium, of religious texts that were apparently selected for private inspiration. The meticulous hand is Anglo-Saxon square minuscule. It was found in the library by Friedrich Blume, in 1822, and was first described in his Iter Italicum (Stettin, 4 vols., 1824-36). The presence of the volume was explained by a hospice catering especially to English pilgrims that was founded by Jacopo Guala Bicchieri (d. 1227), bishop of Vercelli, who had been papal legate in England 1216–1218. However, its presence in Vercelli has been ascertained before that, in the eleventh century.

In the words of a modern critic, "The Vercelli Book appears ... to have been put together from a number of different exemplars with no apparent overall design in mind. The manner in which the scribe did the copying is relatively mechanical. In most cases, he copied the dialect and the manuscript punctuation that was found in the original texts, and these aspects therefore aid in reconstructing the variety of exemplars. The texts therefore range in date for although they were all copied in the later tenth century, they need not all have been written in this period."

The verse items occur in three randomly placed groups intermixed with prose. Evidence suggests that the scribe may have assembled the material over an extended period of time. Elaine Treharne in Old and Middle English: An Anthology suggests: "Although the examples are diverse, and no apparent chronological or formal arrangement can be discerned, the texts suggest the compiler was someone in a monastic setting who wished to illustrate his personal interest in penitential and eschatological themes and to glorify the ascetic way of life. The homilies represent part of the anonymous tradition of religious prose writing in Anglo Saxon England."

In his book The Vercelli Homilies, Donald Scragg claims that because of the poetry, the Vercelli Book "is in no sense a homiliary." He argues that most of the homilies in the Vercelli Book are sermons with general themes, while two of the homilies describe lives of the saints (XVII and XXIII). The manuscript contains two homilies (I and VI) that are primarily narrative pieces and lack the typical homiletic structure. The arrangement of the homilies, coupled with the placement of the poetic pieces, creates a manuscript which Scragg considers to be "one of the most important vernacular books to survive from the pre-Conquest period." None of the homilies can be precisely dated, nor can any be assigned to a specific author.

Codex Vercellensis

Codex Vercellensis - Gospel of John 16:23-30
The title Codex Vercellensis (the "Codex of Vercelli") refers to two manuscript codices preserved in the cathedral library of Vercelli, in the Piedmont Region, Italy.

Old Latin Codex Vercellensis

Old Latin Codex Vercellensis, preserved in the cathedral library, is a purple vellum codex that is typically dated to the fourth-century, and is believed to be the earliest manuscript of the Old Latin Gospels. Its standard designation is "Codex a" (or 3 in the Beuron system of numeration). The order of the gospels in this Codex is Matthew, John, Luke and Mark, which is also found in some other very old "Western" manuscripts, such as Codex Bezae. In its text of Mt 3, before V. 16, it includes a statement that a light suddenly shone when Jesus was baptized. (Et cum baptizaretur, lumen ingens circumfulsit de aqua, ita ut timerent omnes qui advenerant) It contains the last twelve verses of the Gospel of Mark, but on a replacement-page. The original final pages after Mk 15:15 have been lost, and the replacement-page resumes mid-sentence in 16:7 and includes the text to the end of verse 20, but in the Vulgate version. Space considerations suggest that it is unlikely that the original, non-extant pages included verses 9-20, but this calculation (made by C. H. Turner in 1928) depends on unverifiable assumptions that only four pages have been lost, that the scribe did not accidentally skip any text, and that the person who made the replacement-page had access to the missing page that it replaced. However Turner did not explain why a scribe would replace only one of four pages. It is more probable that the replacement-page was removed from another manuscript than that it was made to insert in Codex Vercellensis. The text of Codex Vercellensis is related to the text of Codex Corbeiensis (ff2), another Old Latin copy (in which Mk 16:9-20 is included).

According to a respectable tradition, this codex was written under the direction of bishop Eusebius of Vercelli. It contains the Euthalian Apparatus. It was restored and stabilised in the early twentieth century. Having been used for the taking of oaths in the early Middle Ages, much of it is either difficult to read or even destroyed, so that we are frequently dependent on the earlier editors for knowledge of its text.

References:  Courtesy of Wikipedia,

  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. 
  • Macadam, Alta (1997). Blue Guide. Northern Italy: from the Alps to Bologna. London: A & C Black. ISBN 0-7136-4294-7.
  • Riserva del Sacro Monte di Varallo, 
  • Giovanni Andrea Irico edition (Sacrosanctus Evangeliorum Codex Sancti Eusebii Vercellensis, 2 volumes, Milan, 1748)
  • Treharne, Elaine (2000). Old and Middle English: an anthology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd.. ISBN 0-631-20466-0.
  • G. Bianchini edition (Rome, 1749; reprinted in Migne, Patrologia Latina, xii, cols. 141-338)
  • J. Belsheim edition (Codex Vercellensis, Christiania, 1897)
  • A. Gasquet edition (Codex Vercellensis, Collectanea biblica Latina, iii; Roma, 1914