Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Monday 26 July |
Saint of the Day: Sts Joachim and Anne
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Ever wonder how medieval monks made illuminated manuscripts?

J-P Mauro - published on 03/12/18

This quick video only scratches the surface of a process that could sometimes take months.

If you’re a fan of How It’s Made, then you may find this video particularly interesting. The Getty Museum produced a short film that demonstrates the elaborate process of bookmaking in the medieval age. They cover everything from creating the parchment from animal skins to binding the pages to the cover.

The majority of scribes in medieval times were monks. Monasteries would usually contain an entire room, a scriptorium, devoted to writing the script and illuminating the page with various colors made from plant materials and precious metals.

The laborious process of creating these books was usually divided among several monks, allowing calligraphers to focus on writing while less skilled hands prepared the parchment. However, it was not unusual for all of the scriptorial duties to fall on one man’s shoulders in the smaller religious communities.

There is something so comforting in watching a craftsman work so methodically. We are so glad that there are still dedicated workers keeping this ancient process alive. After all, this was the only way to make books for more than 1,000 years.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Philip Kosloski
This morning prayer is easy to memorize
Daniel Esparza
5 Curious things you might not know about Catholicism
Joachim and Anne
Philip Kosloski
Did Jesus know his grandparents?
J-P Mauro
Reconstructing a 12th-century pipe organ discovered in the Holy L...
Daniel Esparza
3 Legendary pilgrimages off the beaten path
Philip Kosloski
Why is Latin the official language of the Church, instead of Aram...
Philip Kosloski
This prayer to St. Anthony is said to have “never been know...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.