TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures


In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Northern Italy, likely Milan (Abbey of Morimondo?), c.1150-1175

TM 664


99 ff., preceded and followed by a modern parchment flyleaf, missing at least a quire at the beginning (collation: i-xii8, xiii3), written by a single scribe above the top line in a twelfth-century relatively angular minuscule in brown ink, text copied on 25 lines (justification: 115/125 x 75 mm), added explicits and chapter headings at the end of each textual division in a different rounded script (most in pale brown ink, some in pale red ink), prickings in outer margins, ruled in hard point, catchwords on ff. 32v and 40v, rubrics in bright red, liturgical lessons marked in the margins in red or brown ink roman numerals (sometimes preceded by the letter “lc” for “lectio” (e.g. f. 8), some initials and capitals stroked in red, larger painted 3-line high initials in red, one 4-line high initial in green with downward extension for a further eight lines, some with ornamental flourishing (e.g. f. 82v), some contemporary annotations and/or corrections. Bound in a modern tanned pigskin binding over wooden boards, renewed parchment pastedown and flyleaves, brass catches and clasps, fine restored condition (some leaves cropped a bit shorter, a few waterstains in bottom right corner of a number of folios, never affecting legibility). Dimensions 165 x 105 mm.

Twelfth-century copy of the middle section of the important and influential exegetical treatise devoted to the Psalms, Augustine’s longest work. The codex boasts a twelfth-century ex-libris from the abbey of Morimondo, and it appears in the Morimondo Library Catalogue datable to the third quarter of the twelfth century. The manuscript was adapted for public reading, to wit the Roman numerals in the margins dividing the text into readings for the Office at Matins. Twelfth-century manuscripts tied securely to a monastery and its library are rare on the market.


1.Copied in Italy (Morimondo?) based on script, preparation of parchment and ornament. Morimondo would be a likely place of copy, as the codex exhibits the same angular small minuscule script found in other identified Morimondo manuscripts. There is of course the possibility that the manuscrpt was brought from another monastery; but M. Ferrari notes that it is unlikely the monks in the newly founded abbey would have brought books from afar, and that most of the twelfth-celtury codices associated with Morimondo were indeed copied in Morimondo’s scriptorium (M. Ferrari, in Bandera et al., Un’abbazia lombarda... (1998), p. 105).

The Cistercian abbey of Saint Mary of Morimondo, in Lombardy, near Milan, was founded in 1134, a daughter of the French Cistercian monastery of Morimond. The abbey was suppressed in 1799 and associated with the Ospedale Maggiore of Milan. An ex-libris inscription on f.99v reads (partially effaced): “Hic liber sancta marie de morimundo mediolan[ensis] dyoc[esis] cist[erniensis] ordinis in inventario No. XII.” [This book is from Saint Mary of Morimondo, Cistercian order in the diocese of Milan, inventory No. 12]. If the present manuscript was not copied in the Abbey of Morimondo proper, that it was in fact in the Morimondo library in the later twefth century is confirmed by a twelfth-century list of the library’s contents, now found in a manuscript in the Houghton Library at Harvard College, Houghton fMS Typ223 (Office Lectionary). In this manuscript, the endleaf (f. 227v) includes a late twelfth-century booklist of the Abbey of Morimondo where the present codex is described as “Item Augustini super psalterium tria volumina” (see Leclercq, 1961, p. 178, no. 20, who suggests the words “tria volumina” were added by an early 13th century hand; M. Ferrari, 1993, p. 269 and note 66, who publishes this manuscript as a Morimondo codex; L. Light (1988), pp. 10-13: “A Introduction to the Exhibition. The Morimondo Library Catalogue”). L. Light points out that the majority of the 93 books listed in the Morimondo twelfth-century catalogue center on the Bible.

The dispersal of the Morimondo manuscripts began in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Interestingly it was Paolo Giovio who acquired a portion of Morimondo’s books (see Provenance immediately below; on Giovio and Morimondo’s books, see L. Light, 1988, p. 11). There are some 65 codices identified in public and private collections as coming from Morimondo (see M. Ferrari, in Bandera et al., Un’abbazia lombarda... (1998), p. 104).

2.Bishop Paolo Giovio (1483-1559), bishop of Nocera de Pagani, Italian physician, historian and biographer, noted collector of books, paintings and objects, originally housed in his villa on Lake Como, Museo. His collection was one of the first to include pieces of the New World. A set of copies of paintings from the collection, known as the Giovio Series, is on display in Florence at the Uffizi. On Paolo Giovio, see T. Price Zimmermann, Paolo Giovio: The Historian and the Crisis of the Sixteenth-Century Italy (1996); B. Agosti. Paolo Giovio. Uno storico lombardo nella cultura artistica del cinquecento (2008); C. H. Clough, “A Manuscript of Paolo Giovio’s Historiae sui temporis, liber VII...”, in The Book Collector, vol. 38, no Spring 1989, pp. 27-59 : “His [Giovio’s] will, drawn up on 4 August 1552 in Florence, had left his palazzo, with its Museum, to the care of his nephew Paolo, the son of his brother Benedetto; Giovio’s intention was to have maintained as an entity the Museum, library and literary papers” (p. 34). 

3.There is a note in Latin in a 17th or 18th century hand copied on a front paper flyleaf that states the manuscript is missing at the beginning of Psalm 119 [sic, for 120] but that it continues complete till Psalm 133, and suggests a twelfth-century date for the codex : “Codex. no. S. Augustini in Psalmos, seu potius eiusdem fragmentum in psalmos; nam ab expositione tantum psalmi 119 incipitque etiam initio caret, nec ultra psalmum 133 progreditur. Ex hoc codicz qui seculo XII assignavi posset nonulle eruuntur variantes lectiones”. Might this be the hand of one of the subsequent heirs of the Giovio manuscripts?

4.London, Christie’s, Sale 17 November 1976, lot 368, “Property of a Lady.” It is accepted that the books and papers sold at Christie’s (lots 276-382), are all tied (explicitly or loosely) to the former Giovio collection (see Clough, ref. above, 1989, pp. 35-37). Sold to Kraus (NYC).

5.Belonged to Joseph Pope (1921-2010) of Toronto, investor banker and prominent collector of medieval manuscripts. Bought from Laurence Witten in November 1981.His Bergendal Collection MS 18 (described in Pope, 1999); brief description in Stoneman, 1997, p. 173.


ff. 1-10, Augustinus Hipponensis, Enarrationes in Psalmos, CXX, beginning imperfectly: “[...] de [de]litiis huius seculi diffluentes....”; explicit, “[...] Illi enim martyres sine labore hic sunt nobiscum. Explicit de psalmo capitulo vicesimo primo” [Gori ed. Augustinus, Enarrationes in Psalmos, 2001, pars 3, pp. 59-83 (CXX, 3-14)].

A section is missing at the beginning of the manuscript, likely a quire of 8 leaves. The edition by Gori et alia (2001) is based on a number of codices, listed on pp. 34-35, of which 3 are datable to the twelfth century. Stegmuller (1949) also provides a list of codices (pp. 139-140)

ff. 10-99v, Augustinus Hipponensis, Enarrationes in Psalmos, CXXI-CXXXIII, incipit, “Sicut amor immundus inflammat animam...”; incipit in Psalmum CXXXIII, “Ecce nunc benedicite dominum omnes servi domini...”; explicit in Psalmum CXXXIII, “[...] Unum benedixit. Esto in unum et pervenis ad te benedictio fiat” [Gori ed. Augustinus, Enarrationes in Psalmos, 2001, pars 3, pp. 83-340]. There are certainly textual variants to be noted: the published version reads as explicit to the Enarratio in Psalmo 133 : “[...] pervenit ad te benedictio” and the present codex reads: “pervenis ad te benedictio fiat.”

This manuscript is one of a three-volume set that contained the entire text of the Enarrationes in Psalmos [Commentaries on the Psalms] by Saint Augustine (PL 36, 61-1028; PL 37, 1033-1966). The first and third volumes of the work (respectively psalms 1-118 and 134-150) are not currently localized. This volume thus contains the middle portion of the text (Commentaries on psalms 120-133). The fact that the set initially comprised three volumes is confirmed by its presence in the late twelfth-century booklist of Morimondo where it is described as “Item Augustini super psalterium tria volumina” (Leclercq, 1961, p. 178; L. Light, 1988, p.11; M. Ferrari, 1993, p. 269; S. Bandera, 1998, p. 115, dating the list before 1174-1175), associated with a twelfth-century ex-libris of Morimondo found on f. 99v in this codex (see Provenance, above).

This copy is a fine example of patristic texts copied and designed for public reading during the Office at Matins. Proof that this manuscript was intended for this use lies in the inclusion of Roman numerals in the margin, sometimes associated with the letters “lc” for “lectio”, indicating the liturgical lessons and the patristic textual extracts to be read (numbers I to III, for the three lessons in each nocturn) (see L. Light (1988), pp. 43-45 who discusses this feature relative to another Augustine, Enarrationes in Psalmos 101-150 (Harvard, Houghton Library fMs Typ 703). In the present codex, of a relatively small format, the Roman numerals have been added in a near contemporary hand, suggesting the volume has been adapted for public reading, and might not have been initiallt copied with this function in mind.

Augustine composed his Enarrationes in Psalmos over a period of time, roughly between 394 and 419-422 A.D. The work is the longest work composed by the Bishop of Hippo, and contains a variety of diverse types of texts: commentaries (sometimes a given psalm is commented twice !), “dictated” commentaries and spoken sermons based on the psalms preached in Hippo and Carthage. More specifically, the commentaries and sermons on psalms 119-133 (120-133 copied in this volume) were composed and delivered in 406-407 A.D. The entire Enarrationes ad psalmos reflect the very emotional relation the Bishop had with the Psalms; the Psalter is the most frequently quoted biblical text quoted by Augustine in all his works and close to one third of his homilitic texts are based on excerpts from the Psalms. 

The manuscript tradition of the Enarrationes is quite complexe and intricate. In 1931, Wilmart began a census of extant codices containing the work, listing some 367 codices (which is far from an exhaustive count) of which some 147 date from the twelfth century (see Wilmart, 1931, pp. 295-312). The editio princeps of the Enarrationes was printed in 1485 (GW, 2908-2911). A critical edition of the Latin text was completed in the Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum Latinorum series (Vienna, 2001 et sqq.) and another edition is underway ensured by the Institut des études augustiniennes (Paris).

There is a real possibility that the present manuscript was copied in the Cistercian abbey of Morimondo or at least for very early use in the abbey in the twelfth century. This is confirmed by the fact that one finds a very early ex-libris with an inventory number (No. 12) on f. 99v, and the presence of a three volume set of the Enarrationes is confirmed in the Morimondo Library Catalogue copied in the last quarter of the twelfth century: “Item Augustini super psalterium tria volumina.” It is only natural to find this important work in a monastic environment as the Enarrationes in Psalmos were indeed owned by most twelfth-century monasteries who considered the work an essential part of a monastic library.


Bandera, S. et al. Un’abbazia lombarda : Morimondo la sua storia e il suo messagio, Fondazione abbatia sancte Marie de Morimondo, 1998, in particular M. Ferrari, “Lo scriptorium di Morimondo”, pp. 103-111; S. Bandera, “Gli inizi dello scriptorium di Morimondo”, pp. 113-130.

Dulaey, M. ed. et al. Oeuvres de Saint Augustin. 57/A. Les commentaires des psaumes. Enarrationes in Psalmos, Ps. 1-16, Paris, Institut d’Etudes Augustiniennes, 2009.

Gori et al. ed. [Augustine]. Enarrationes in Psalmos 101-150 edidit Franco Gori adiuvante Francisca Recanatini [deinde] Iuliana Spaccia [deinde] Claudio Pierantoni, Vienna, 2001. [Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 95, 1, 3-5].  Pars 3, Enarrationes in Psalmos 119-133.

Ferrari, M., “Biblioteche e scrittori benedittini...” in Archivio ambrisiano, vol. XL, 1980, no. 67.

Ferrari, M., “Dopo Bernardo: bibliotheche e scriptoria cisterciensi dell’Italia settentrionale nel XII secolo”, in P. Zerbi ed. San Bernardo e l’Italia..., Milano, 1993, pp. 269 and 303.

Leclercq, Jean. “Textes et manuscrits cisterciens des bibliothèques des Etats-Unis”, in Traditio, 17 (1961), pp. 163-183.

Light, Laura. The Bible in the Twelfth-Century, Cambridge, Harvard College Library, 1988.

[Pope, J.]. One Hundred and Twenty-five Manuscripts. Bergendal Collection. Catalogue, Toronto, 1999

Stegmüller, F. Repertorium biblicum medii aevi, tomus II : Commentaria, Madrid, 1949, no. 1463.

Stoneman, William P. “A Summary Guide to the Medieval and Later Manuscripts in the Bergendal Collection, Toronto”, in A Distinct Voice: Medieval Studies in Honor of Leonard Boyle, O.P., edited by Jacqueline Brown and William P. Stoneman, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1997, pp. 163-206.

Vincent, M. Saint Augustin. Maitre de prière, d’après les Enarrationes in Psalmos, Paris, 1990.

Wilmart, A. “La tradition des grands ouvrages de S. Augustin, IV: Les Enarrations”, in Miscellanea Agostiniana 2, Rome, 1931, Les Enarrations”: pp. 295-315.

Online resources

English Translation of Augustine, Enarrationes in Psalmos:

On the Enarrationes in Psalmos:

On the Cistercian Abbey of Morimondo, diocese of Milan:

Bibliography for Harvard University, Houghton Library, MS Typ 223 (Morimondo Library Catalogue, f. 227v):