St. Nicholas Saga
Helgastaðabók: Nikulás Saga
One of the greatest treasures among Icelandic Medieval manuscripts is the Helgastaðabók: Nikulás Saga (Book of Helgastadir) by medieval hagiographer Bergr Sokkason, containing the Life of St. Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra, with three full-page pictures of St. Nicholas and fifteen figured initials. It was most unusual to have more than one full-page illumination for such a book and no other Icelandic manuscripts equal the quality of these illuminations. It was reprinted in a special edition in 1982 by the Stofnun Árna Magnússonar á Íslandi and Lögberg Publishers. The volume was likely in private hands, no longer at the Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Saint Nicholas in Helgastadir, before 1659. It was acquired in 1683 for the Swedish College of Antiquities and the original manuscript is now in Royal Library in Stockholm.
[The book] is a veritable treasure, and no pains or expense have been spared in making the illuminations as magnificent as possible. . . .The book must have gleamed with gold, especially in the background to the miniatures, but also in the people’s clothing, even in their hair. Most of the gold has now disappeared, leaving only the occasional gleam to be seen, but under the gold there was every colour from pale yellow to brown.*
* “The Illuminations in Helgastaðabók” by Selma Jónsdóttir, Helgastaðabók: Nikulás Saga: perg. 4to nr. 16 (Book of Helgastadir), by Selma Jónsdóttir, Stefán Karlsson, Sverrir Tómasson; Stofnun Árna Magnússonar á Íslandi and Lögberg, 1982, page 202-203.
Helgastaðabók: Nikulás Saga: perg. 4to nr. 16 (Book of Helgastadir), by Selma Jónsdóttir, Stefán Karlsson, Sverrir Tómasson; Stofnun Árna Magnússonar á Íslandi and Lögberg, 1982. Permission pending.