Elizabeth of Schönau – the paths of God; also: Rabbits

While looking for Paris, Bibl. Sainte-Geneviève, ms. 0020, I found a manuscript of Jacques Bauchant’s French translation of the visions of Elizabeth of Schönau (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Français 1792, c 1370-75). It’s graced with a gorgeous and strange image:

Click to enlarge. The text is “Des visions Madame sainte Elizabeth des voies et du mont de Dieu du mistere et de la signifiance de ce,” while the BnF’s catalog copy explains further:

Au f. 5: peinture malheureusement abîmée, figurant la vision de sainte Elisabeth; la sainte étendue sur un lit contemple la montagne sur laquelle trône le Seigneur, vers qui s’acheminent divers petits personnages, marchant sur des bandes de couleur différentes, symbolisant les “voies de Dieu”

 At folio 5, a sadly damaged painting, picturing the vision of St. Elizabeth: the saint lies on a bed contemplating the mountain on which the Savior is enthroned, towards which several little figures are making their way, walking on bands of different colors, symbolizing the “ways of God”

As an animals guy, I’ve of course primarily interested in the rabbits in their mountain warrens, even on the slope leading to God. It just isn’t a proper mountain without some nonhuman life, but that inclusion, necessary as it is for realism, also muddles any lonely anthropocentric visioning. There’s no world worth having without, say, rabbits and grass and little holes. There are no rabbits in the original, nor any, so far as I can tell at a quick glance, in the translation. Love it.

Advertisements