photo: Theresa Zammit Lupi
The presence of sand on the pages of a book would not appear to be an important find – except when the book is several hundred years old, and the sand was used to dry the ink used painstakingly by members of the French Scriptorium working on the text.
The dried sand is just one of the fascinating facets found by conservation expert Theresa Zammit Lupi when she was researching a magnificent collection of ten illuminated liturgical manuscripts, found in the Conventual church of St John.
The 1533 L’Isle Adam’s Graduals were commissioned by the French Grand Master Philippe Villiers de L’Isle Adam for the Order of the Knights of St John shortly after its arrival in Malta.
Dr Zammit Lupi, who made this collection the subject of her doctoral thesis, was the first person to study these beautifully decorated manuscripts in microscopic detail. She published her findings in a book in 2011 for Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti. Entitled ‘Cantate Domino: Early Choir Books for the Knights in Malta’, the book covers their historical context as well as explaining the significance of each detail of their manufacture.
One of the illuminated letters from the manuscripts was chosen by the Central Bank of Malta’s Malta Coin Centre as the design for the first numismatic coin released in 2020.
Dr Zammit Lupi will be delivering a lecture on her book via Facebook Live on June 2 at 6pm, the first virtual lecture being organised by the Bank. This will be live on its Central Bank of Malta – Events page but will also be available as a podcast on the Bank’s website.
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