Biblia Pauperum (Bible of the Poor)

Biblia Pauperum (Bible Of The Poor).

(I.) The title given to a Bible Manual, or Picture-Bible, prepared in the Middle Ages for the use of children of the poor, whence its name. It consisted of forty to fifty pictures, giving the, events of the life of Christ, and some O.T. events, each picture being accompanied by an illustrative text or sentence in Latin. Nicolas of Hanapis, the last patriarch of Jerusalem, who died in 1291, is said to have written the first of the Latin texts for pictures. A similar work on a more extended scale, and with the legend or text in rhyme, was called Speculum Humance Salvationis, i.e. the "Mirror of Human Salvation." Before the Reformation, these two books were the chief text-books used, especially by monks, in preaching, and took the place of the Bible with the laity, and even clergy. The lower orders of the regular clergy, such as the Franciscans, Carthusians, etc., took the title of "Pauperes Christi," Christ's poor. Many manuscripts of the Biblia Pauperum and of the Mirror of Salvation, several as old as the thirteenth century, are preserved in different languages, but they are nearly all imperfect. The pictures of this series were copied in sculptures, in wall and glass painting, altar-pieces, etc., and thus become of importance in the art of the Middle Ages. After the discovery of printing, the Biblia Pauperum was perhaps the first book that was printed in the Netherlands and Germany, first with wooden blocks, and then with types. (II.) The name of Biblia Pauperum is also given to a work of Bonaventura, in which the Biblical events were alphabetically arranged, and accompanied by notes-some of them very eccentric for the benefit of preachers, thus attempting to relieve their intellectual shortcomings.-Pierer, Universal Lexikon, ii, 734; Horne, Introduction to the Scriptures, Biblo Appendix, Section 6:§ 1.

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