Bishop Engilmar Celebrating Mass
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Ottonian, Regensburg, about 1030 - 1040
Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment
9 1/8 x 6 5/16 in.

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A bishop blesses an assortment of lay people at Mass in what was originally the first page of this Ottonian benedictional made in the monastery of Saint Emmeram. An inscription on the gold ground above the bishop's head identifies him as Engilmarus ep[iscopu]s (Bishop Engilmar). Engilmar stands to the right before an altar with a chalice on it and a sacramentary visible just beyond. To the left a deacon holds a benedictional, containing the specific blessings said by a bishop during the celebration of the Mass. Their tonsures, the characteristic shaved circle on their heads, identify the figures performing the liturgical rituals as monks. The scene takes place within an architectural space intended to be symbolic rather than realistic. The sharply angled walls, for example, seem to indicate that the figures are located at the back of the church, where the altar would be, yet at the same time the crenellations that top the walls seem to suggest an exterior view. This type of abstract treatment can also be seen in the regular patterns of the drapery, such as the embedded V-folds in the altar cloth and the deacon's outer garments.