Initial I: Saint Bernard Disputing with the Devil

Object Details


Initial I: Saint Bernard Disputing with the Devil






Paris France Tours France (Place created)




Tempera colors, gold paint, gold leaf, and ink on parchment


Leaf: 11.4 x 8.3 cm (4 1/2 x 3 1/4 in.)

Credit Line:

Partial gift of Gerald F. Borrmann

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A clawed and horned devil tugs at the robe of Saint Bernard, trying to drive the saint to evil thoughts. The dispute between the devil and the saint revolved around the Verses of Saint Bernard; the devil claimed to know seven psalm verses that would ensure salvation when recited every day but said that he would not reveal their identity to Bernard. On hearing this, the saint informed the devil that he would henceforth recite all the psalms every day in order to be sure to say the seven particular verses. The devil was so frightened at the thought of such a display of piety that he immediately revealed the identity of the verses. The image, part of a letter I, introduces the seven verses in Simon de Varie's book of hours. Unrelated to the psalm verses are the images in the border, which include two hybrid, part-snail creatures, each perched on a tuft of grass.

Related Works
The Psalms and Their Illustration (April 27 to July 3, 1993)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), April 27 to July 3, 1993
The Psalms and Their Illustration (February 1 to April 23, 2000)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 1 to April 23, 2000