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Rare Bibles: Lorsch Gospels

The Styberg Library has a special collection of rare Bibles. This guide features some of the ones that are within the collection.


A complete facsimile of the Lorsch Gospels was made possible with the cooperation of the owners of the four parts of the once whole manuscript who granted the editor and publishers permission to photograph them at the 1965 exhibition of the Council of Europe entitled “Charlemagne: His Achievements and Influence.” The four parts were brought together after centuries of separation for this event held at the Coronation Hall of the Holy Roman Empire in Aachen, Germany.

The Styberg Library facsimile edition comprises the two parts of the Lorsch Gospels from the Biblioteca Documentara Batthyaneum in Alba Julia, Romania, and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Rome. It was published in New York by George Braziller in 1967 on the initiative of Wolfgang Braunfels, who also wrote the introductory text that accompanies the volume. The Styberg Library facsimile edition is number 886 of 1000 numbered copies.

The manuscript consists of 239 vellum leaves with 473 inscribed or painted pages, written in gold lettering, and with magnificent carved ivory panels on its front cover (with an image of the Virgin and Child) and back cover (with an image of Christ). It contains the Gospels in Latin text along with prefaces, Canon Tables (representing a concordance of the Gospel passages), miniatures and ornamental pages.

The history of this work is both complicated and fascinating. The Lorsch Gospels were published ca. 810 in the Scriptorium of the Court at Aachen (Germany), most likely at the commission of Charlemagne. Its name is derived from the Abbey of Lorsch where the manuscript was housed. The introduction by Braunfels details its creation, moves, theft, division into parts, forgeries, and final resting places.

Image of the Ivory-Carved Front Cover with Mary and the Baby Jesus in the Center
Image of the Ivory-Carved Back Cover of the Lorsch Gospels with Christ in the Center
Image of the Display with Four Items
Image with Displayed Image Description
About the Original Manuscript