Regulae SS. Benedicti, Basilii,
Augustini, Francisci, 1500
In the library of the Badia della Santissima Trinità di Cava there is an edition of St Benedict’s Regola: an incunable printed in Venice in 1500.
In the library today of the Santissima Trinità di Cava dei Tirreni there is a copy of the edition of the Regulae monasticorum printed in Venice by Giovanni Emerico da Spira for Lucantonio Giunta and dated 13 April. This precious incunable include the different rules for monastic life written by Saints Benedict, Basil, Augustine and Francis edited by Giovanni Francesco da Brescia, a Benedictine monk from the Abbey of Santa Giustina in Padua. It is unsurprising therefore that he inserts the profession of faith in the Regula Sancti Benedicti, in the version adopted by the Cassinese Congregation, to which Santa Giustina belonged. The surviving copies of this edition are found in 133 libraries in Italy and many other European countries and in the USA.
A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INCUNABLE
Title: Regulae monasticorum: Regulae SS. Benedicti, Basilii, Augustini, Francisci. Ed: Joannes Franciscus Brixianus
Type: printed edition
Date of printing: 13 April 1500
Place of printing: Venice
Features: text printed in gothic type, in two columns, title-page in red, woodcut initials
A Venetian edition “for Lucantonio Giunta”
The publisher of this edition of the Regulae monasticorum was the Florentine Lucantonio Giunta (1457-1538), who worked in Venice as a publisher and bookseller. Giunta was responsible, among other books, for the printing of the Breviarium Romanum and various other widely used liturgical books, editions of theology, as well as important editions of the Bible in Italian translation. Lucantonio Giunta assigned the printing of this exquisite incunable to the German printer Giovanni Emerico da Spira, who would become a trusted collaborator and business partner. The title-page of this edition of the Regulae monasticorum includes the familiar printer’s device of the Giunta family, printed here in red and displaying the lily (the symbol of the city of Florence) and the initials L.A.
The illustrations in the Regulae monasticorum
This incunable edition has woodcut initials and three woodcuts showing figures which meant a lot to the editor of the volume, the monk Giovanni Francesco da Brescia. The first full-page woodcut shows full length figures of St Benedict and St Scolastica. The second, which also takes up a whole page, shows the full length figures of Saints Benedict, Placidus and Maur, with a group of monks praying at their feet. The final woodcut is a vignette showing Saints Benedict and Giustina, set within an elegant frame to the text.