Memorable Emblems

Petrus von Rosenheim (ca. 1380–1433). 
Memorabiles evangelistarum figurae
[Pforzheim: Thomas Anshelm, 1502]. (AFU6984)

Intended to help readers memorize the basic content of the four Gospels, the fifteen full-page woodcut illustrations in this book combine symbolic emblems that provide visual cues pertaining to each chapter. For example, the woodcut for the beginning chapters of the Gospel of John features the evangelist’s traditional emblem, the eagle, with six numbered motifs, as explained in the Latin introduction and the accompanying verses:

Chapter 1: The Incarnation of the Word, manifested by the heads of the Father (right) and the Son (left), with the dove of the Holy Spirit (above).

Chapter 2: The wedding at Cana, signified by the amorous music of the lute, and Christ’s expulsion of the money changers from the Temple, symbolized by three bulging purses.

Chapter 3: The story of Nicodemus, suggested by a womb-like opening, as the man of Israel struggles to understand Christ’s words, “You must be born anew.”

Chapter 4: Christ and the Samaritan woman at the well, indicated by the bucket of water with which she drew water for the Messiah.

Chapter 5: Christ’s healing miracles at the Pool of Bethesda, symbolized by a fish in troubled water.

Chapter 6: The feeding of the five thousand at Galilee, represented by five loaves of bread, two fish, and the Eucharistic wafer.

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Illustrated Content
Memorable Emblems