Vaticinia sive prophetiae et imagines summorum pontificum.

Cartin 1.jpg
Cartin 2.jpg


Joacim di Fiore [attrib.].


Vaticinia sive prophetiae et imagines summorum pontificum.


Siena, workshop of Vecchietta, principally Benvenuto di Giovanni, 




Illuminated manuscript on vellum, 9⅝ x 6⅞ in. Arts and Crafts binding by Katherine Adams, Worcestershire, 1905.

Provenance: Sydney Cockerell, with his manuscript annotations and separate notes discussing this work.

This is one of the first manuscripts or printed books that I acquired. It captured the thrill for someone like me, a neophyte with a curiosity that far exceeded my knowledge, to actually hold something like this in my hands and anticipate the many dozens of questions that would follow, many still unanswered.

This manuscript of sixteen leaves is comprised of two sets of riveting, fantasy-based images, which in their contempt and sarcasm came to represent the excesses and evils of the papacy during the Great Western Schism, and then foretell the future of a church ruled over by an angelic pope. Visually, it struck me at once as a mirror of the oppressive, fear-mongering tactics of the church. The bizarre, prophetic meanderings of the text has been attributed to the mystic Joachim di Fiore (b. Celico, c. 1132) and became the inspiration for radical movements among fourteenth-century Franciscans that led to excommunications and those movements being declared heretical.

The two groups of drawings are by two different artists, and in his manuscript notes in the endpapers, Sydney Cockerell refers to the first of these sets as the more compelling, noting that “Bernard Berenson regards these pictures as the work of an artist 'between Giovanni di Paolo and Vechietta.’”


Mickey Cartin