Codex Eyckensis

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The Codex Eyckensis is a manuscript dating from the first half of the 8th century. It is called “Eyckensis” because it was preserved during centuries in the convent of Aldeneik, near Maaseik, Belgium. It is the oldest Gospel Book of the Benelux.

Evangelist portrait in the Codex Eyckensis A

According to an old legend this codex was written and illuminated by Saint Harlindis and Saint Relindis, sisters and foundresses of the convent of Aldeneik.

The manuscript contains the text of the four gospels in Latin, preceded by canon tables. These tables are divided in a number of parallel columns, indicating the concordant passages in the Gospels. They are put in an architectural frame of pillars and arches. The medallions with portraits of the Apostles at the middle of the main arch are characteristic for the Codex Eyckensis

The front page shows an Evangelist portrait, but it is uncertain which Evangelist is portrayed.

The script and the style of the illuminations show that the Codex Eyckensis belongs the body of insular scripts. These codices were brought to the Continent by Irish and English missionaries in the seventh and eight centuries. The Codex Eyckensis was probably written in the scriptorium of the Abbey of Echternach, founded by saint Willibrord in the 7th century.

The Codex is now bound in two parts, because originally it consisted of two parts. The first part only contains five pages, consisting of the Evangelist portrait and canon tables. The second part consists of the complete canon tables and the Gospels.

Attempts to conserve the aging Codex in 1957, using a clear PVC coating, were later found to be damaging the parchment. [1] In 1990, a team from Belgian Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage, led by Jan Wouters, removed the yellowing PVC laminate. [2] [3] [4]

The Codex is now on display in the St. Catherine church in Maaseik, Belgium.


  1. ^ Wouters, Jan; Gancedo, Gely; Peckstadt, An; Watteeuw, Lieve, Grimstad, Kirsten, ed., "The Codex Eyckensis, an illuminated manuscript on parchment from the 8th century AD. Laboratory investigation and removal of a 30-year-old PVC lamination", ICOM Committee for Conservation, 9th triennial meeting, Dresden, German Democratic Republic, 26–31 August 1990: preprints: 495–499, ISBN 0-89236-185-9, retrieved 2010-06-23, In 1957, the parchment of the Codex Eyckensis (8th century) was systematically laminated with the commercial plastic film, Mipofolie. 
  2. ^ Wouters, Jan (January–February 2008), "Reflections on the Position of Science in Multidisciplinary Approaches", Chemistry International 30 (1), retrieved 2010-06-23, High-level destructiveness analysis of synthetic membranes without touching the 8th century parchment of the Codex Eyckensis revealed a polyvinylchloride polymer with 30 % (w/w) monomeric plasticizer; 
  3. ^ Everts, Sarah (September 3, 2007), "Conservation At Arm's Length;Researchers at IUPAC congress advocate a measured approach to the conservation of cultural artifacts", Chemical & Engineering News 85 (36): 43–45, doi:10.1021/cen-v085n036.p043, retrieved 2010-06-23, In the '60s, people believed in the eternal existence of plastics 
  4. ^ Drastic measures save plastic treasures, pp. 42–45, retrieved 2010-06-23, After just a few decades, the laminate had itself decayed, accelerating the destruction of the manuscripts. In 1990, a team led by Jan Wouters of the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage in Brussels had to painstakingly peel away the PVC film (The Paper Conservator, vol 19, p 5).