On our title image

This engraving by the Augsburg artist Georg Wilhelm Salmusmüller serves as the frontispiece for all six volumes of Bernhard Pez's "Thesaurus anecdotorum novissimus". It shows the author in his monastic habit, seated in his library. He is collating a text from a manuscript held by several cherubs with a second codex held by himself. Other cherubs are carrying out various tasks in connection with the publication of historical sources, thus visualising both the historical scholar's work in a material sense and its goals in an ideal sense.

Three mottoes displayed in banners refer to the medieval theological writings edited by Bernhard Pez. Near the ground, the words "Ne pereant" ("That they not perish") refer to John 6,12 ("Colligite fragmenta, ne pereant"), implicitly alluding to the fragmentary character of many historical sources.

The printing press operated by cherubs is inscribed with the words "Ut prosint" ("That they may be of use"). In this one may recognise both the ubiquitous idea of the "common good" ("commodum publicum") and a specifically Benedictine reference to such passages of the Rule of St. Benedict as 64,8, according to which the abbot should help his monks more than rule them ("magis prodesse quam praeesse"). The ancient texts, too, are thus intended to be of use and help to an (unspecified) community of recipients.

Finally, another pair of cherubs are seen attaching candles to a chandelier. For this, the motto is "Ut luceant" ("That they may illuminate"). This reference is more complex. In 1715, Bernhard Pez had published the life of the 13th-century ascetic Wilbirgis, written by her confessor Einwik Weizlan. Einwik compares Wilbirgis to a light held in contempt which will long remain hidden, but at a preordained time will be placed on a candelabra to give light to all peoples. This is an expansion and interpretation of Job 12,5 ("Lampas contempta apud cogitationes divitum parata ad tempus statutum"). The chandelier in the engraving thus represents a Biblical symbolism of "light", in a medieval interpretation, integrated into Bernhard Pez's vision of the purposes of his own work; the image of "illumination" – "enlightenment" – is here used in a context of Christian spirituality.