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les Enluminures

IOHANNES CHRYSOSTOMOS, De laudibus beati Pauli homelia, Latin transl. by ANIANUS CALEDENSIS; PSEUDO-DIONYSIUS AREOPAGITA, Epistola Dionysii Areopagitae ad Timotheum de morte apostolorum Petri et Pauli, Latin transl. (Anonymous); GREGORIUS NAZIANZENUS, Orations (2, 17, 26), Latin transl. by RUFINUS AQUILEIENSIS; PSEUDO-AMBROSIUS or PSEUDO-GERBERTUS REMENSIS [GERBERT D’AURILLAC, POPE SYLVESTER II], Sermo de informatione episcoporum

In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
Italy, Ferrara, c. 1450-1460

TM 469
mss in the curriculum


121 ff., preceded and followed by paper flyleaves (watermark “A. Masso” and “Gior[gio] Magnani”), apparently complete, in very regular quires of 10 (collation: i-xii10), written in a fine Italian humanistic script in light brown ink, in up to 26 long lines (justification 144 x 91 mm.), ruled in brown ink, some contemporary quire signatures, catchwords, one 3-line high initial painted in blue (f. 55v), 14 initials in highly burnished gold between 3- to 9-line high, with swirling white vine decoration on grounds of green, blue and red highlighted with white dots (e.g. ff. 2, 8v, 13, 17v, 26v, 34v, 40v, 47v, 48v, 54, 95v, 103, 113v, 121), opening leaf with full illuminated border of white vine decoration (bianchi girari) inhabited with zoomorphic heads (lions?) on grounds of green, blue, and red also highlighted with little clusters of white dots, with painted arms in lower portion of border placed in a roundel [Arms of Bishop Francesco de Lignamine] (f. 2), some contemporary or near-contemporary marginalia, some corrections to text. Bound in a later 19th-century binding (likely of Italian origin) of mottled marbled dark green paper over pasteboard, smooth spine gilt with title-piece in red “cuir de Russie”: “Chrisostomi Homilie M. SS”, colored paper endleaves with leafy patterns and red dots on a red background (Generally in good condition, a few leaves browned at the edges, never hindering legibility; decoration and illuminated border in pristine condition). Dimensions 236 x 162 mm.

With its white vine illumination and fine humanistic script, this elegant manuscript presents an interesting combination of texts, mostly Latin translations of the Greek Fathers of the Church. It was written and illuminated for the noted bibliophile Francesco de Lignamine, Bishop of Padua, praised by Vespasiano da Bistucci. Francesco’s library of some 212 manuscripts bequeathed to the Capitolo del Duomo in Ferrara is well documented. Two other codices in Padua and Ferrara include the same sequence of texts and merit further study in comparison with the present codex.


1. Copied and decorated in Ferrara for Bishop Francesco de Lignamine de Padua (born circa 1400), bishop of Ferrara from 1446-1462 and “receptor pecuniarum cameare apostolicae” in the Marches. In an inventory of the some 212 manuscripts in his library, written circa 1450, this particular manuscript might well be the manuscript recorded as Quedam opuscula sancti Iohannis Chrisostomi in parva coperta corio albo (quoted in Franceschini, 1977, no. 132). His arms topped by a bishop’s miter are painted in the lower illuminated border: azure a chevron or between three crescents sable. Vespasiano da Bistucci (Le vite, I, p. 257) speaks of Francesco de Lignamine as a very learned person, open to sacred and lay texts, with numerous ties to contemporary humanists, including Poggio Bracciolini. He bequeathed the greater part of his library to the Capitolo del Duomo di Ferrara. Francesco de Lignamine died in Rome in 1462 (see A. Stenad, DBI, vol. 32, pp. 92-96). There are two codices that bear the Lignamine arms in Holkham Hall, i.e. MS 383, Cicero (15th c.) and MS 390, Seneca (14th c., arms added later) (see De Ricci, A Handlist of Manuscripts in the Library of the Earl of Leicester at Holkham Hall, 1932).

In addition to the arms of Lignamine who was bishop of Ferrara, stylistic elements also suggest a Ferrarese origin for this codex, in particular the very typical bianchi girari full border on colored grounds, very close in style to the manuscripts produced for the Ferrarese court in the second half of the fifteenth century, in particular under the governance of Borso d’Este (1450-1471) and Ercole d’Este (1471-1505) (see in particular, A. Battini, “La cultura a corte nei secoli XV e XVI attraverso i libri dedicati”, in Gli Estensi. Prima parte. La Corte di Ferrara, 1997, pp. 279-345). Further comparisons with Ferrarese illumination and calligraphy might yield more information on the scribe and general circumstances of production for this codex. It should also be studied within the context of Lignamine’s collection in Ferrara.

2. Continental Private Collection


f. 1, Later inscriptions, in brown ink, “In te Domine speravi / Signa autem eos qui crediderint…”;

f. 1v, blank;

ff. 2-48v, Iohannes Chrysostomos, De Laudibus beati Pauli homelia, translation of homilies 1-7 by Aniano da Celeda (Anianus Caledanensis) and homily 8, spurious (unknown translator), rubric, Iohannes Crisostomi de laudibus pauli omeliarum octo incipit et sequitur prima; incipit, “Nihil prorsus erraverit qui pratum quidqm virtutum insigne ac paradisum…”; rubric, De laudibus pauli omelia secunda (ff. 8v-13); rubric, Omelia tertia de laudibus pauli (ff. 13-17); rubric, De laudibus pauli omelia quarta sequitur (ff. 17-26v); rubric, Omelia quinta de laudibus (ff. 26v-34v); rubric, Omelia sexta de laudibus pauli (ff. 34v-40v); rubric, De laudibus pauli omelia septima (ff. 40v-47v); rubric, De laudibus pauli omelia octava (ff. 47v-48v), incipit, “Qui nunc illi sunt qui querulo semper animo mortem causari...”; explicit, “[…] Ecce ego et pueri quos mihi dedit deus ipsi gloria in secula Amen [in red] Johannis Crisos. Omel[iae] de laudibus pauli finiuntur”;

John Chrysostom, c.346-407, was patriarch of Constantinople and one of the four great Eastern Fathers of the Church. The son of Christian parents, John was educated in rhetoric and later in theology by Diodore of Tarsus. A writer of pure, almost Attic style, John is one of the most attractive of the Greek preachers, and his eloquence gained him the name of Chrysostom (Golden Mouth). Most of his writings are in the form of sermons. The present panegyrics in praise of Paul were likely pronounced in Antioch

The present homilies (In praise of St. Paul, here the first seven homilies) are published in the original Greek in Migne, PG, 50, col. 473-514. Before being printed in Greek, the work was first translated into Latin with a wide circulation. The editio princeps of the Latin translation was published in Paris, B. Rembolt, 1499 (edition which contains only seven homilies). This translation is now attributable to Aniano da Celeda, a deacon from Celeda (Campania). On the Latin reception of John Chrysostomos, see C. Baur, S. Jean Chrysostome et ses œuvres dans l’histoire littéraire (1907) and also J.-P. Bouhot, “Les traductions latines de Jean Chrysostome du Ve au XVIe siècle”, in Traduction et traducteurs au Moyen Age (1989), pp. 31-39. On the attribution of this translation to Aniano da Celeda, see A. Piédagnel, Jean Chrysostome, Panégyriques de S. Paul (Paris, 1982), pp. 86-91; and see F. Stegmüller, III, 4360: “Johannes Chrysostomos, De laudibus beati Pauli, serm. 1-7, interprete Aniano de Celeda.” For an English translation, see T. Halton, In Praise of Saint Paul by John Chrysostom (1963).

Aniano da Celeda only translated the first seven homilies. Indeed, there is an eighth sermon, present here, cited by Stegmüller, III, 4360, that follows the Aniano da Celeda translation of the seven “authentic” homilies and presents only a few differences. This eighth homily is considered spurious, certainly not by John of Chrysostomos, and its author or translator (if it ever was even composed in the Greek) is unknown. Worth signaling, the incipit to this eighth homily in the present manuscript does not match that in the bibliographical references, which furnish as incipit “Saepe fulgido coeli globo delectatus oculus... ,“ but with the same explicit (see Stegmüller, IIII, 4360, 1 [VIII]; see also Piédagnel, 1982, p. 91).

ff. 48v-54, Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita, Epistola Dionysii Areopagitae ad Timotheum de morte apostolorum Petri et Pauli, rubric, Epistola beati dyonisii ad thimotheum de morte petri et pauli apostolorum incipit; incipit, “Saluto te divinum discipulum et filium spiritualis viri patris...”; explicit, “[...] laus et cultus cum patre et spiritu sancto nunc et semper et in secula seculorum. Amen” [published in Pitra, Jean-Baptiste (éd.), Analecta sacra Spicilegio solesmensi parata, IV. Patres antenicaeni, Paris, 1883, pp. 261-271].

This is the Latin translation (anonymous) of a work that was first translated from the Greek into Syriac. Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, also known as Pseudo-Denys, was a Christian theologian and philosopher of the late fifth to early sixth century, the author of the Corpus Areopagiticum (before 532). The author is identified as “Dionysos” in the corpus, which later came to be attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite, the Athenian convert of St. Paul mentioned in Acts 17:34. His surviving works include Divine Names, Mystical Theology, Celestial Hierarchy, Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, and various epistles. Some other works, such as Theological Outlines, are presumed to be lost.

ff. 54-55, Rufinus Aquileiensis, Praefatio Rufini ad Apronianum [Preface of Rufinus Aquileiensis to his Latin translation of Gregorius Nazianzenus, Orations], rubric, Venerabilis fratris Ambrosii e greco in latinum traductio gregorii nazanceni ad apronianum carissimum: prohemium incipit fel[iciter]; incipit, “Profiscenti mihi ex urbe magnopere iniungebas aproniane fili carissime...” (ed. Engelbrecht, 1910, CSEL, 46, p. 3; published also in Migne, PL, 36, col. 735-736);

ff. 55v-95v, Gregorius Nazianzenus, Oration 2, Apologeticus, Latin translation by Rufinus Aquileiensis, incipit, “Victus sum et fateor me esse superatm...”; explicit, “[...] omnes dicamus gloriam grex simul et pastores in christo Yhesu domino nostro cui gloria in secula seculorum. Amen” (ed. Engelbrecht, 1910, CSEL, 46, pp. 7-83);

ff. 95v-103, Gregorius Nazianzenus, Oration 17, Ad cives Nazianzenos gravi timore perculsos, Latin translation by Rufinus Aquileiensis, incipit, “Ventrem meum ventrem meum doleo et sensus mei turbati sunt...”; explicit, “[...] viventem secum et regnantem cum spiritu sancto in secula seculorum. Amen” (ed. Engelbrecht, 1910, CSEL, 46, pp. 193-206);

ff. 103-113v, Gregorius Nazianzenus, Oration 26, In semet ipsum de agro regressum, Latin translation by Rufinus Aquileiensis, incipit, “Desiderabam vos o filii quia et pari mensura desiderabara vobis...”; explicit, “[...] recte hic quesierunt vita et fide probabili tibi gloria et potestas in secula seculorum” (ed. Engelbrecht, 1910, CSEL, 46, pp. 167-188);

Saint Gregorius of Nazianzenus or Gregory Nazianzen (330?-390?) was born in Arianzus in an upper class family of Cappadocia and schooled in the city of Nazianzus. He remains for millions of Eastern Christians one of the pillars of orthodoxy. Including poetry, epistles, and orations, his works in Greek have for centuries attracted poets, scholiasts, commentators, and translators. Gregory’s nickname is the “Christian Demosthenes.”

The first Greek edition of Gregory’s Opera Omnia printed at Basel in 1550 contained 80 letters, poems, and most of the orations; a critical edition of the original Greek can be found in Patrologia Graeca 35-38. The earliest Latin translations of Gregory Nazianzen’s works were those of Rufinus of Aquileia (345-410), the translator of Eusebius and other Christian writers, who rendered nine of his orations into Latin. The more than 150 manuscripts of Rufinus’s translation dating from the tenth to the sixteenth centuries manifest the widespread diffusion of his works (see Sister Agnes Clare Way, in Catalogus translationum..., P.O. Kristeller, ed., 1971, p. 47). The translation of Gregory Nazianzen’s Orations by Rufinus was made circa 399 or 400 and was dedicated to Apronianus (cf. A. Engelbrecht, C.S.E.L. 46, xvi-xviii).

ff. 113v-121, Pseudo-Ambrosius, De dignitate sacerdotali or Pseudo-Gerbertus Remensis, Sermo de informatione episcoporum, incipit, “Si quis fratrum oraculi reminiscatur quo non frugi famulum...”; explicit, “[...] ut eis una mecum tribuas regna que sanctis in fine seculorum promisisti perpetua. Amen. Finis”; added beneath in a cursive hand: “Laus deo semper deo gratias” [published in A. Olleris, Oeuvres de Gerbert, pape sous le nom de Sylvestre II, Paris, 1867, pp. 269-278, included by Olleris although he did not consider the work genuine, neither Ambrosius, nor Gerbert but rather by a “falsario” of the tenth century; see also two opposing attributions, Migne, PL, 17, col. 567-580, De dignitate sacerdotali (Ad Opera Sancti Ambrosii appendix) and Migne, PL, 139, col. 169-178, Gerberti postmodum Silvestri II papae...Sermo de informatione episcoporum].

Misattributed to Ambrosius, this text has also sometimes tentatively been attributed to Gerbertus Remensis (Gerbert d’Aurillac), later Pope Sylvester II (999-1003), based on a single eleventh-century codex from Saint-Martial de Limoges (Paris, BnF MS lat. 2400: “Sermo Gilberti Philosophi, papae urbis Romae, qui cognominatus est Silvester, de informatione episcoporum”). A remarkable character, Gerbert was at once scholar, philosopher, master of the Cathedral school of Reims, and pope of the new millennium, the first pope of French origin. He was interested in mathematics and astronomy and is credited with introducing decimal notation into France.

In this sermon, Pseudo-Ambrosius or Pseudo-Gerbertus (or the anonymous compiler) presents the episcopate as being far above royalty and resolutely attacks simony. It is fitting that such a tract should conclude a manuscript that once belonged to a bishop.

On the complexities tied to authorship concerning this work, see F. G. Nuvolone, 1985, pp. 379-545. Nuvolone provides a list of codices that contain this text with various suggested authors from the ninth to the sixteenth centuries (Nuvolone, 1985, pp. 490-497). Nuvolone concludes that the text by the Pseudo-Ambrosius and/or Pseudo-Gerbertus is most likely a re-writing of a Pseudo-Ambrosian text by Adhémar de Chabannes (c. 988-1034). Most of the manuscripts are attributed to Ambrosius, arguing in favor of a Pseudo-Ambrosian authorship. However, as discussed above, one of the codices assigns the work to Gerbert of Aurillac (Paris, BnF, MS lat. 2400) and another – most interestingly – to none other than John Chrysostomos. This is Padua, Biblioteca Capitolare, D. 44 (see P.O. Kristeller, Iter italicum, 1967, II, p. 6). The text in the Padua codex is preceded by a rubric: “Jo. Chrysostomos ad sacerdotes atque episcopos adhortatorius sermo incerto interprete.” Nuvolone speaks of an “assieme crisostomico”, a sort of Chrysostomian miscellany, much like the present manuscript that presents the Sermo de informatione episcoporum in a “Chrysostomian” miscellany. Interestingly, the exact same association and sequence of these five texts is found in another Ferrarese manuscript, dated 1457, Ferrara, Biblioteca Communale Ariostea, MS II 334, on f. 39. In addition the Ferrara manuscript includes the same De laudibus beati Pauli, the texts by Pseudo-Dionysius, Gregorius of Nazianzenus (P.O. Kristeller, Iter italicum, 1963, I, p. 60). It would seem that the Ferrara Ariostea manuscript is something of a sister manuscript or identical copy to the present Lignamine codex. They both, as well as the Padua codex, should ideally be studied together.


Engelbrecht, A. Tyranni Rufini orationum Gregorii Nazianzeni novem interpretatio, in C.S.E.L. 46 (1910).

Franceschini, Adriano. “Inventari inediti di biblioteche ferraresi del sec. XV. A – La biblioteca di Francesco di Lignamine Vescovo di Ferrara (1446-60)” in Atti e Memorie della Deputazione prov. ferrarese di storia patria, s. III, 24 (1977), pp. 51-86.

Johannes Chrysostomus, Homélies sur saint Paul... introduction de Maurice Jourjon; traduction... par P. Soler..., Paris, 1980.

Kristeller, P.O. ed. Catalogus translation um et commentariorum. Medieval and Renaissance Latin Translations and Commentaries, Volume II, Washington, 1971, Sister Agnes Clare Way, “Gregorius Nazianzenus”, pp. 46-192.

Nuvolone, F. G. “Il ‘Sermo pastoralis’ pseudoambrosiano e il ‘Sermo Girberti philosophi papae urbis Romae qui cognominatus est Silvester de informatione Episcoporum’. Riflessioni, in Gerberto : scienza, storia e mito: atti del Gerberti Symposium (Bobbio 25-27 Luglio 1983), Bobbio, 1985, pp. 379-545.

Piédagnel, Jean Chrysostome, Panégyriques de S. Paul, Paris, 1982.

Stegmüller, F. Repertorium biblicum medii aevi, Tomus III: Commentaria, Madrid, 1981.

Stenad, A. A. “Dal Legname (de Lignamine, de Oligname, dal Legno, de le Ase), Francesco”, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Rome, 1986, vol. 32, pp. 92-96.

Online resources

On Francesco de Lignamine

On John Chrysostomos