HMML exhibits ‘Fragmented Beauty’

Introits from the Mass, early 11th century or earlier. Manuscript on parchment, binding fragment, 19.7 x 31 cm
Saint John’s Rare Books, SJU Ms. Frag. 1
Two leaves (bifolium) from a Mass book, dated between the 9th and early 11th centuries and possibly from the Benedictine monastery at St. Gall or Reichenau. The fragment includes musical notation and text from the introits (opening prayers) of the Mass for several Sundays, as well as for the Mass for the Dead. This codex was later cut up and used for binding in another book—thus the odd “castle shape.” This is the earliest Latin writing in the Saint John’s collections.

“Fragmented Beauty” is the subject of a new exhibition at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at St. John’s University in Collegeville. It features manuscript fragments of European and non-European origin that span over 1,500 years. The exhibition also explores key components of manuscript research, including content, script and decoration.

Although the items in the exhibition can no longer be displayed or appreciated in their original state, their fragmented beauty still allows viewers to piece together their past, and preserve that knowledge for the future, according to HMML. In addition, the circumstances of fragmentation can also raise important questions about the fragments themselves.

Visitors are welcome to view the exhibition in the Reading Room until August during regular Alcuin Library hours. HMML is staffed Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The exhibit also is available online at (click on “Fragmented Beauty”).

Author: The Visitor

The Visitor is the official newpaper for the Diocese of Saint Cloud.

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