De sacrosanto sudario Veronicae by Giacomo Grimaldi. First investigation

Federico Gallo

(Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milano)


Giacomo Grimaldi (Bologna 1568 – Rome 1623) spent his whole life as a cleric in the Basilica of St Peter’s in the Vatican, to which he devoted all his work. An indefaticable researcher, without being notably erudite or innovative, he compiled numerous compilations of great worth from the archives, which were consulted by scholars who came after him.

There are three autograph copies of the Liber de sacrosancto sudario Veronicae – compiled in 1618 (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.H.3), in 1620 (Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, II.III.173) and in 1621 (Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, A 168 inf.) – and seven other later manuscripts from the 17th century. The work contains a collection of all the information that Grimaldi could find in the Archive, the Chapter Library of St Peter’s, the Vatican Apostolic Library and the Secret Archive regarding the relic of the Veronica, kept in the Basilica.

The text is organized in strict chronological order: events connected to the venerable relic are recounted with complete quotations from the authors and documents that witness them, from 34 AD until the years in which the manuscript was compiled. Almost all the sources are post 11th century; the number of sources increases constantly after 1250.

This initial investigation presents the contents of Grimaldi’s treatise until 1527, the year of the Sack of Rome. Apart from several documents from the pontifical archives and epigraphs of the Basilica of St Peter’s, the sources cited by Grimaldi include the Liber Pontificalis, the Liber politicus, Peter Mallius, Marino of Eboli, Antonio di Pietro, Niccolò Signorili, Maffeo Vegio.


The European Fortune of the Roman Veronica ​in the Middle Ages