Containing the prayers said by the priest and the chants sung by the choir at Mass, the Stammheim Missal was produced in Lower Saxony around 1170 at Saint Michael's Abbey at Hildesheim, one of the most celebrated abbeys in medieval Germany. Bishop Bernward, who founded the monastery in 996 and had the abbey church built, was a great supporter of the arts, commissioning important projects that show an awareness of classical Roman art and establishing an artistic tradition at the abbey that was sustained through the 1000s and 1100s.
The missal is profusely illuminated with decorated initials and miniatures of a rare theological complexity. These images present an extensive program of typology, wherein Old Testament subjects are understood as foreshadowing events that occur in the New Testament.
Painted in a Romanesque style characterized by symmetrical compositions offset by alternating color schemes and patterns, the illuminations are dynamic, vibrant, and majestic.