Revelationes [i.e Revelationes Celestes/Coelestes] [Colophon: omnium celestium Reveletionum...].

[Colophon - i.e. H(5)v:] Nuremberg, Anthonius Koberger, 21. September 1500.

Folio. Bound around 1800 in a very appropropriate medieval style binding with heavy wooden boards with brass clasps and a dark painted leather spine with real raised bands and blindstamped lines. Spine with a bit of wear, but overall excellent and sturdy. Internally in very nice condition, with very little wear, very little spotting or browning and with clear and fresh imprint. A few, small, purely marginal worm holes. The woodcuts are all excellent and clear and are all with comtemporary hand-colouring mostly in red, but sometimes in yellow, occasionally in red and yellow. All larger capitals are in contemporary red hand-colouring and numerous smaller initials are touched in red. 

Several leaves with early or near contemporary marginal notes, mostly scholarly. Some early annotations that seem to be of more mystical character and not purely scholarly have been covered at an early date, meaning that a couple of leaves have early paper covered margins. These could presumably be removed again (as the paper strips seem to only intend to hide the annotations, which are vaguely visible from the versos, and nothing has been cut out underneath). This seems to have been the case on q(6)v, which consists mostly in woodcut illustrations. Here, the extensive, contemporary annotations, which seem to be of mystical character, with numerous signs and symbols, have been revealed again, causing just slight discolouration to the parts that had presumably been covered. Marginal paper note indicators have also been removed from several margins, causing discolouration to a small part of some blank margins on a few leaves.

Front free end-paper with extensive, neat 19th century notes about the edition. The blank leaf H(6) also with neat, elaborate notes about the edition, from around 1800, in the hand of renowned Belgian bibliophile Baron Hilarion-Noël de Villenfagne d’Ingihoul (1753 - 1826), politician, historian and mayor of Liège from 1791. Final blank with elaborate, early 17th century annotations to both recto and verso (in two different hands). 

304 ff. (including blanks). 14 ff. numbered (1-2), 3-4, (5-6), 5-8, (9-12) + a-z8, A-F8, G-H6, a-f8, g6. Fully complete. Illustrated throughout with magnificent woodcuts (that may or may not be by Dürer - see note below) - 7 full-page woodcuts, 10 pages comprising 51 woodcuts and text, and ca. 1 half-page woodcut.    

Scarce first Koberger-edition, being the second edition overall, of the seminal revelations of Saint Birgitta, one of the most influential visionaries of the later Middle Ages. Due to the translation into Latin, by her spiritual advisors, Birgitta's revelations acquired a great vogue during the Middle Ages, made her an outright celebrity and a controversial as well as highly influential figure. Her revelations came to influence not only the likes of Luther and other Christians of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, as well as the history of Christianity and mysticism in general, they also came to directly influence both catholic and world politics.

The first edition of Birgitta's seminal revelations is printed in 1492, and the famed first Koberger-edition appeared in 1500. The stunning woodcuts are often ascribed to Dürer, although this has still not been definitively proven. "The dispute as to Dürer's authorship is in full swing, and the various opponents seem to find even more difficulty in coming to an understanding than was the case with regard to the earlier Basel series of illustrations. In addition to Dürer, the authorship of Wechtlin, Peter Vischer the Elder and Kulmbach is also assumed in the literature." (British Museum)

The collection of the revelations of Birgitta is of the utmost importance to the development of Christianity and spirituality in the West. The revelations were written by Birgitta herself and then translated into Latin by her advisors. They were written during different periods of her life and in different places. Books I, II, and V were probably all written in Sweden, around 1347, with the help of Magister Mathias. Book III is presumably written in Rome in the period between 1349 and 1373, and Book VII in the Holy Land around 1372-73. All books are organized as sacred conversations between Birgitta herself and either Mary or Christ, or as conversations where her patron saints or an angel appear before her.

St. Birgitta, born in Upland in Sweden in 1302 or 1303, is the only Swedish saint to be canonized by the Pope. Already as a child, Birgitta had visions of Christ and the Virgin Mary. At the age of ten, she had a vision of Jesus hanging upon the cross. When she asked who had treated him like this, he answered, "They who despise me, and spurn my love for them". After that moment, The Passion of Christ became the centre of her spiritual life. The revelations which she had received since her childhood now became more frequent and were finally collected in the seminal "Revelationes coelestes" ("Celestial revelations"), which were translated into Latin by Matthias, canon of Linköping, and her confessor, Peter Olafsson, prior of Alvastra, greatly influencing the spiritual lives of many Christians of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, including Luther.

Her visions have also come to directly influence art and the way that religious scenes and figures have been depicted ever since, eg. her vision of the Nativity of Jesus. Shortly before her death, she described a vision which included the infant Jesus lying clean (not in swaddling clothes) on the ground, and emitting light himself, and she described the Virgin as blond-haired and kneeling in prayer exactly as she was moments before the spontaneous birth, with her womb shrunken and her virginity intact. Many depictions would follow this scene, they included the popular ox and donkey and they reduced other light sources in the scene in order to emphasize the "child of light" effect, and the Nativity was treated with chiaroscuro throughout the Baroque. Other details which are frequently seen, such as Joseph carrying a single candle that he "attached to the wall," and the presence of God the Father above, also has its origin in Birgitta's vision. The pose of the Virgin kneeling to pray to her child, to be joined by Saint Joseph, technically known as the "Adoration of the Child", became one of the most common depictions in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, largely replacing the reclining Virgin in the West.

It is said that at a young age, Birgitta had a vision of the Devil, after which she stopped being a child. She sacrificed herself completely for the sick and poor. When her husband died after a pilgrimage in 1344, she devoted herself fully to Christ and called herself the "Bride of Christ". She entered a convent and would never again take off her veil. She was an extraordinary person of great importance to Middle Age theology. She is said to have been a political genius, a great poet - the like of Dante -, a preacher of penance - the like of Savonarola -, and finally one of the most important mystics of all time. She also came to greatly influence catholic politics. Situated in Rome, people came from all over the world to seek her advice, and she became a direct influence on world politics. Her powers and the effects they had on individuals as well as governments and institutions can be traced through centuries.

Her revelations told her to found a new sort of convent, the rules for which were dictated to her directly by Christ. Her revelations also had to do with political and social issues, and she was not afraid to criticize the most powerful people such as the King and the Pope, who both often sought her advise. It was Birgitta who convinced the Pope to move back to Rome from Avignon.

"St. Brigitta of Sweden (1303-73, canonized 1391) was one of the most charismatic and influential visionaries of the later Middle Ages. Altogether, she received some 700 revelations dealing with a variety of subjects, from meditations on the human condition, domestic affairs in Sweden, and ecclesiastical matters in Rome, to revelations in praise of the Incarnation and devotion to the Virgin. Her Revelationes, collected and ordered by her confessors, circulated widely throughout Europe both during her lifetime and long after her death. Many eminent individuals, including Cardinal Juan Torqemada and Martin Luther, read and commented on her writings, which influenced the spiritual lives of countless individuals. Birgitta was also the founder of a new contemplative order, which still exists. She is the patron saint of Sweden, and in 2000 was declared (with Catherine of Siena and Edith Stein) the first co-patroness of Europe. Interest in Birgitta's Revelationes has grown over the past decade. Historians and theologians draw on them for insights into late medieval spirituality, artistic imagery, political struggles, and social life. Scholars of literature study them to gain knowledge of rhetorical strategies employed in late medieval texts by women. Philologists analyze them to enhance understanding of the historical development of Latin and medieval Swedish. Increasingly, Birgitta is also admired and studied as a powerful female voice and prophet of reform. Collectively, the Revelationes encapsulate the workings of an extraordinary mind, alternating between a tender lyricism and a grim intensity and hallucinatory imagination, mixing stereotypical commonplaces with startling and sensational imagery, providing enlightenment on contemporary issues and practical advice about imminent and future events, and showing a constant devotion to the passion of Christ and a close identification with the Virgin." (Oxford Academic).

Hain 3205; Brunet I:430.

Order-nr.: 60325

DKK 200.000,00