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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Rare Latin 12th century manuscript now at Waldo

Page from De Corpore et Sanguine Domini manuscript.

Rare 12-century Latin manuscript is a copy of "De Corpore et Sanguine Domini"
KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A rare 12th-century manuscript that is a copy of a work first produced some 300 years earlier is now at home in Western Michigan University's Special Collections and Rare Book Department, thanks to a grant from the New York City-based B.H. Breslauer Foundation.

The manuscript's Latin title is "De Corpore et Sanguine Domini," which means "On the Body and Blood of the Lord." The influential writing was widely disseminated during the Middle Ages and was considered groundbreaking and controversial in its argument for the Eucharist transforming into the body and blood of Christ.

Teaching and research significance

Purchased using both endowed funds for the rare book collection and a $70,000 grant from the Breslauer Foundation, the small 12th-century manuscript is expected to play a major role in graduate and undergraduate teaching and research at WMU. The University is home to an internationally known Medieval Institute as well as two renowned research centers—the Richard Rawlinson Center for Anglo-Saxon Studies and Manuscript Research and the Center for Cistercian and Monastic Studies.

"The manuscript will be used primarily for research and teaching," Steuer says, noting that library staff will digitize the work to extend access to the manuscript even more widely.

Steuer says the new manuscript will become a pillar of the medieval manuscript collection, and it is of interest because it represents some typical features of manuscripts of its date, but also because it has a number of unusual characteristics, such as its small size—about 3 by 4.5 inches—and the author's citation of sources. Link to full news release.

Special Collections and Rare Book Department

Located on the third floor of Dwight B. Waldo Library, Special Collections is one of the repositories of primary resources and research materials in the WMU Libraries. It has more than 41,000 books. There are about 40 medieval manuscripts, modern and early modern printed editions, archives of modern writers, and fine press edition books. For more information on WMU's Special Collections, visit