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les Enluminures

IACOBUS DE VORAGINE, Legenda aurea (excerpts) and Sermones de tempore (seven sermons)

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Germany (Southern?), c. 1280-1325

TM 579


iii (modern paper) + 40 + iii (modern paper) folios on parchment (uneven margins and some original holes), modern foliation in pencil top outer corner recto, earlier modern foliation appears to have been erased except on ff. 29-30, which were ff. 31-32 in this earlier series, incomplete at the beginning, but with no evidence of text missing after f. 6v (collation, i6 ii-iv8 v10), no catchwords or signatures, ruled in ink throughout with single vertical bounding lines inside, outside and between the columns, horizontal rulings vary: ff. 1-8, with the top, third and bottom two rules full across on most folios, ff. 8v-14v, with the top, third, bottom and fourth from the bottom rules full across, ff. 15-27, with the bottom and penultimate rules full across; ff. 27v-end, with the bottom rule full across, prickings in the three outer margins, with a double row of prickings in the outer margin on ff. 8-14, ff. 1-6v, (justification, 123 x 90-87 mm.), written below the top ruled line in two columns of thirty-eight lines, ff. 7-8, (justification, 130 x 98 mm.), copied below the top line in two columns of twenty-eight lines, ff. 8v-end, (justification, 137-134 x 98-97 mm.), with ff. 8v-30, written in two columns of thirty-three lines and ff. 31-end, in two columns, thirty-two lines, written by two scribes, the first scribe copied ff. 1-26v, mid column b (the first text) below the top ruled line in a quick upright gothic noting script, and the second scribe copied the second text, f. 26v, mid column b to the end, in a quick, heavily-abbreviated gothic bookhand, majuscules within the text stroked with red, red paragraph marks, two- to one-line red initials, f. 38, two-line red initial, highlighted in yellowish-gold, in good condition, legible throughout, with obvious signs of use, parchment is quite soft, and soiled, especially in the bottom corners, original imperfections include uneven lower margins, ff. 4, 14, and 24, and small holes in the lower margins of f. 20, and in the outer margin, f. 26 and 35. Bound in modern red morocco in 1993 by Donald Taylor of Toronto, spine lettered in gilt on a black leather label, “Excerpta Legendae Aureae, s. XIII,” quires interleaved by paper stubs, with modern cloth slipcase, in excellent condition; previously “loosely wrapped” in the four folios from a Breviary, removed by the Bergendal Collection and bound separately as MS 24 (incorporated as “II” below). Dimensions (outer dimensions of leaves varies), 181-178 x 133-124 mm.

Four leaves from a Breviary (once used as a wrapper for the manuscript described here; see above)
In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Germany, c. 1275-1300
i (paper) + iv + i (paper) folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil top outer corner recto, (collation, i4 [outer four leaves on one quire, original structure uncertain, missing an unknown number of leaves between 2 and 3]), ruling mostly undetectable, traces of single vertical bounding lines in ink or lead remain between the columns, prickings top margin (justification 145-144 x 103 mm.), written by two scribes in a mature gothic bookhand in two columns of thirty-three to thirty-two lines, majuscules in text stroked with red, red paragraph marks and red two-line initials (one with simple red pen flourishes), all leaves are darkened and soiled, although ff. 1-2 are legible, especially at the edges, f. 3, damaged in the inner margin, with some loss of text, part of f. 3, and ff. 3v-4v, are mostly illegible due to damp. Bound in 1993 in plain red leather by Donald Taylor of Toronto. Dimensions, 193 x 138 mm.

This small personal collection of excerpts was unbound until modern times and protected only by a few leaves from another manuscript. Practical and portable manuscripts such as this one must have existed in far greater numbers during the Middle Ages than the numbers that survive indicate. Careful analysis of the excerpts included here in a manuscript copied not long after Jacobus de Voragine’s death (and possibly during his lifetime) would be a fascinating case study of the use and reception of two of most widely disseminated texts from the High Middle Ages.


1. Based on the evidence of the script, it seems likely that this manuscript was copied at the end of the thirteenth century or the beginning of the fourteenth century, c. 1280-1325. The manuscript includes two texts, each copied by different scribes in very different types of scripts. The script of the first scribe may be on the earlier side of the range of dates, but given the informality of both scripts, it is difficult to be precise. Both scribes, however, use the reversed “c” to abbreviate “con,” and a quick form of the abbreviation for “est” (Latin for “is”) which suggest an origin in Germany, possibly in Southern Germany; Regensburg, for example, was a major center of copying the Legenda aureum (these two features may be seen in a manuscript copied in Southern Germany, 1279 in Thomson, 1969, plate 40). The first scribe varies his layout (justification, number of lines, and ruling pattern), which is a characteristic of an informal, perhaps owner-produced, manuscript.

2. Formerly unbound, and “wrapped loosely” in four leaves from a thirteenth-century Breviary (now bound as a separate manuscript; described below). In the lower margin on the first leaf of these leaves, a fifteenth- or early sixteenth-century hand added, “Legende de S. Barbara, S. Lucia, legenda de S. apostolis et patribus anchorit, Sermones de tempore, M lxxxx” – describing the contents of the Breviary leaves and the manuscript described here, providing evidence that although it is missing at least some text at the beginning, it was complete with these contents from an early date, and that it was unbound through most of its history.

4. Fifteenth-century (?) notation, bottom margin, f. 1, in bold gothic script, black ink: “S.de.3”; possibly a shelf-mark, this is clearly in a different hand and type of script than the list of contents on the wrapper (discussed above).

5. Belonged to Joseph Pope (1921-2010) of Toronto, investor banker and prominent collector of medieval manuscripts, where it was Bergendal Collection MS 104 (described in Pope, 1999, and online, Bergendal Collection; brief notice in Stoneman, 1997 p. 205; an account of the collection is given in Pope, 1997). Purchased by Pope from Sam Fogg, London, October, 1993.

6. Inside front cover in pencil, “65GQF.”

II. [Breviary Wrappers]
1. Based on the evidence of the script, this was written in Germany at the end of the thirteenth century, probably c. 1275-1300; the text, although fragmentary, suggests that these leaves were from a monastic, rather than secular, breviary (one nocturn with four lessons are provided for the feast of St. Lucy).

2. It is possible that these were waste leaves never used for a manuscript (see the backward two-line red “N” on f. 4); in any case they were used as a wrapper for this copy of extracts from the Golden Legend and sermons by Jacobus de Voragine by the fifteenth or early sixteenth-century, when the contents were recorded (see above) in the lower margin of f. 1. It is noteworthy that this writer listed the contents of these leaves as the “Legends” of St. Barbara and St. Lucy, ignoring the fact that these leaves were originally from a Breviary, and emphasizing the content that was in keeping with the manuscript these leaves were being used to protect.

3. Belonged to Joseph Pope (1921-2010) of Toronto, investor banker and prominent collector of medieval manuscripts, where it was Bergendal Collection MS 24 (described in Pope, 1999, and online, Bergendal Collection; brief notice in Stoneman, 1997 p. 176; an account of the collection is given in Pope, 1997). Purchased by Pope from Sam Fogg, London, October, 1993.


ff. 1-26v, Jacobus de Voragine, Excerpts from the Legenda aurea (references to Maggioni edition):

ff. 1-2, incipit, “//Regis sponsum et sponsam benedixit da iniquiens domine … et facti adiutores fidei christiane”;

St. Thomas Apsotle; “De Sancto Thomas Apostolo” (part), ed.,V, p. 56, line 17 (lacking pp. 53-56, line 16) – p. 62.

ff. 2-4, Bartholomei, incipit, “Bartholomeus interpretatur filius suspendentis aquas … Omnes apostolica universitatem sibi dispertientes pretores regis regum continuatur”;

St. Bartholomew Apostle; “De sancto bartholmeo” (extracts), ed., CXIX, pp. 830-840,

ff. 4-5, Mathei, incipit, “Matheus binomius extitit scilicet Matheus et leui … et totam ethyopie prouinciam ecclesiis christi repleuit”;

St Matthew Apostle; “De sancto matheo” (extracts), ed., CXXXVI, pp. 957-964.

ff. 5-7, Mathie apostoli, incipit, “Mathias ebraice latine dicitur donatus domino … Huius corpus in ecclesia sancte marie mairois sub lapide prophetico sepulchre esse dicitur.”; Item aliud, incipit, “In quedam alia legenda que Treuerensis inuenitur …”; incipit, “In quedam alia legitur legenda quod dum Mathias Macedoniam aduenisset .. reliqui uero ad dominum sunt conuersi”;

St. Matthias; “De Sancto Mathia” (extracts), ed., XLV, pp. 277-284 (edition includes the sections that are singled out here by additional rubrics and initials).

ff. 7-9, Symonis, incipit, “Symonis interpretatur obediens uel ponens tristitiam …humane uite reddidit”;

Saints Simon and Jude Apostles; “De sanctis simone et iuda” (extracts), ed., CLV, pp. 1079-1087, here ending p. 1086, line 18.

ff. 9-11v, Pauli apostoli, incipit, “Pauli interpretatur os tube … malefactores traducuntur in mortem”;

St. Paul Apostle; “De Sancto Paulo Apostolo” (extracts), ed., LXXXV, pp. 576-597.

ff. 11v-12v, De sancto machario, incipit, “Macharius dicitur a macha quod est ingenium … uirtutibus clarus in pace quieuit”;

St. Macarius; “De sancto Machario,” ed., XVIII, pp. 149-151

ff. 12v-13v, incipit, “Antonius dicitur ab ana quod est sursum … tercius ex demone”;

St. Anthony; “De sancto Antonio,” ed., XXI, ed., 155-160, here concluding p. 158, line 11.

ff. 13v-14, incipit, “Cum parentes Agnetis octaua dies .. Corpus autem Emerenciane iuxta corpus sancte agnetis postitum est”;

St. Agnes; “De sancta Agnete (extracts),” copied immediately following life of St. Anthony; ed. XXIV, pp. 169-173, here p. 172, line 8-p. 173, line 2, concluding with p. 172, lines 2-7.

ff. 14-16, Iohannes patriarcha, incipit, “Iohannes elemosinarius patriarcha alexandrinus … uacuum dimiserunt”;

St. John the Almsgiver; “De sancto Iohanne elemosinario” (extracts), ed., XXVII, pp. 188-197.

ff. 16-17, De sancto Iuliano episcopo, incipit, “Iulianus cenomanensis episcopus fuit …bonus operibus et elemonis in domino requieuit”;

St. Julian; “De sancto Iuliano” (extracts), ed., XXX, pp. 209-210

ff. 17-18, De sancto benedicto, incipit, “Crebescente fama beati benedicti … quod sibi preparauit collocari”;

St. Benedict; “De sancto Benedicto” (extracts), ed., XLVIII, pp. 309-320, here beginning p. 311, line 1 and ending at p. 320, line 4.

f. 18rv, Notabile, incipit, “Quanta sit uirtus sancta crucis in illo fideli notario …eum coram dyabolo negare noluisset. Iudeus quidam ecclesiam sancta sophie ingressus … et iudeus fidelis efficitur”

Finding of the Holy Cross; “De inventione sancta crucis” (extracts), ed., LXIV, pp. 459-470, here beginning on p. 469, line 22.

f. 18v, incipit, “Aput syriam in ciuitate Beurth … quia ante altaria tamen consecrabantur”;

Unidentified extract (begins immediately following the previous extract, marked only by a red paragraph mark).

ff. 18v-19, incipit, “Refert magister Alexander episcopus Windomensis in postilla sua .. ordinis petiit et accepit. Quidam frater minor qui multos tempore socius sancti francisci … et ille mundus tribus uitiis plenus est siciliet superbia luxuria et avaricia”

Saint Dominic; begins immediately following the previous extract, marked only by a red paragraph mark; “De Sancto Dominico,” (brief extracts), ed., CIX, pp. 718-744.

ff. 19-23, De animabus, incipit, “Commemoratio omnium fidelium defunctorum … et purgatus vado in regnum dei”;

All Souls; “De commemoratione omnium fidelium defunctorum,” ed. CLIX, pp. 1113-1129.

ff. 23-25v, De sancto Basilio, incipit, “Basilius venerabilis episcopus et doctor precipuus … floruit circa annos domini ccc lxx”;

St. Basil; “De sancto Basilo,” ed., XXVI, pp. 180-187.

ff. 25v-26, De sancto Arsenio, incipit, Arsenius cum adhuc in palacio … perdidit opera sua”;

St. Arsenius; “De sancto Arsenio abate” (extracts), ed., CLXXIV, pp. 1232-1234

ff. 26-26v, De sancto Moyse abbate, incipit, “Moyses abbas dixit fratri petenti a se sermonem … et pro ipsis semper deum rogare”;

St. Moses Abbot, “De sancto Moyse Abbas,” ed., CLXXIII, pp. 1230-1 (here ending p. 1231, line 8).

f. 26v, incipit, “Si duas res oderit monachus potest … sed tuum est resistere eis”;

St. Pastor; “De sancto pastore abbas” (extracts), ed., CLXXI, pp. 1224-1227, here ending p. 1227, ending line 3.

Extracts from Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda aurea (“The Golden Legend”); the modern critical edition by Maggioni, 1998-1990, presents the author’s last redaction, based on the two oldest manuscripts of this version; previous edition by Theodor Graesse, 1850 was based on one of the first printed editions (see online resources; first ed., 1846; reprinted Osnabrück, 1965); modern translations include Brunet, 2001 (in French), and in English, Ryan, 1993; first printed Cologne 1470, and then in at least ninety-seven Latin fifteenth-century editions (Seybold, 1946).

The Golden Legend survives in an astonishing number of manuscripts -- perhaps as many as 1200; modern scholars have said that it was the most frequently copied text during the Middle Ages apart from the Bible (see sermones.net, online resources; for the surviving manuscripts and studies on textual transmission, see Maggioni’s edition, Maggioni, 1995, Fleith, 2001, and Kaeppeli, no. 2154, pp. 350-359). Fleith studied 951 manuscripts, including in her survey complete copies of the text and copies that included at least forty legends (144 of the manuscript studied are not listed in Kaepelli, 1970). Part of its phenomenal success is due to its production at University centers, chiefly by the University stationers in Paris, booksellers who rented small portions of texts to be copied in pieces, or by pecia, thus multiplying the number of exemplars available for copying at any one time enormously (see Murano, 2005, no. 573), and its use as a standard text in Dominican houses of study. In both environments, it was valued first and foremost as a source of texts to be used in sermons, a connection exemplified here, since the extracts from the Golden Legend are followed by sermons by Jacobus de Voragine. In addition to its success in Latin, it was translated into nearly all the vernacular languages, and proved an unequivocal success in these translations as well.

The Golden Legend, or as it was known by its author, and in many manuscripts during the Middle Ages, De legenda sanctorum (“The Legends of the Saints”) was probably written c. 1260 (Fleith argues it was begun as early as 1252), and Jacobus continued to work on it throughout his life. He assembled a convenient compendium of the lives of the saints and accounts of the important liturgical feasts of the Church, based on numerous earlier sources. The version of the text in Maggioni’s edition included 172 legends. The contents focus on the saints venerated throughout Europe, mostly from the early history of the church; only two saints from the twelfth-century and four from the thirteenth-century were included (Bernard, Thomas of Canterbury, Francis, Dominic, Peter Martyr and Elizabeth of Hungary). There has been an explosion of interest in the Golden Legend by modern scholars, and a new appreciation for its value as an historical source; its mixture of history and legend provide invaluable insights into the medieval worldview and often makes for entertaining reading as well.

ff. 26v-40v, Seven sermons from the Sermones de tempore of Jacobus de Voragine:

f. 26v, In pascha, sermo primus, incipit, “Maria Magdalena et Maria Iacobi … [Mt. 16:1]. Pauci sunt qui amicum diligunt propter sua non propter se … contumelia transsivit in gloriam”;

Schneyer, volume 3, p. 225, no. 59.

f. 28v, In octava paschae, sermo primus, incipit, “Cum esset sero die illa una sabbatorum et … [John 20:19], Post passionem christi discipuli remanserant in mult merore …”;

Schneyer, volume 3, p. 225, no. 62.

f. 31, Dominica ii post pascha, incipit, “Ego sum pastor bonus [John 10:11]. In presenti vita nullus debet seipsum laudare nec velle laudari …”;

Schneyer, volume 3, p. 226, no. 65.

f. 33, Dominica iii post pascha, incipit, “Mulier cum parit triscia habet … [John 16:21], Inter bonos et malos hoc distat quia mali volunt …”;

Schneyer, volume 3, p. 226, no. 31.

f. 35v, Dominica iv post pascha, sermo primus, incipit, “Cum uenerit ille arguet de peccato … [cf. John 16:8], Ad hoc quod reprehensio ordinate fiat tria …”;

Schneyer, volume 3, p. 226, no. 73.

f. 38, Dominica v post pascha, sermo primus, incipit, “Amen amen dico vobis [John 16:23], Si quis in curia imperatoris haberet …”;

Schneyer, volume 3, p. 226, no. 74.

f. 40, Dominica sexta, sermo primus, incipit, “Cum venerit paraclitus quem ego mittam vobis [John 16:8], Sciens benignus dominus de suo recessu …”;

Schneyer, volume 3:226, no. 77.

Seven sermons from Jacobus de Voragine, Sermones de tempore; Schneyer, 1969-1990, volume 3, pp. 221-23; first printed in Cologne, Ulrich Zell, 1467-9, GW M11649, and in many other fifteenth-century editions, as well as in Augsburg and Cracow in 1760 by Rudolph Clutius. Surprisingly, there is no modern critical edition, although this was an extremely popular text; about 350 manuscripts are recorded in Schneyer, 3:233-235, and approximately 172 additional manuscripts are listed in Kaepelli, no. 2156, pp. 361-364. The complete sermon cycle included 160 sermons, three for each Sunday of the liturgical year.

In addition to this collection, Jacobus wrote two other collections of model sermons. Although the date of composition of these works is not certain, the first collection, the Sermones de sanctis et festis was written after the Golden Legend, which is mentioned in its preface, followed by the Sermones de tempore, and then the Sermones quadragesimales (Sermons for Lent), which must have been written before 1286 (date of one of the surviving manuscripts). All three cycles were extremely popular, and together they survive in as many as 1120 manuscripts. Their popularity extended beyond the Dominicans, and they were used as standard sources for sermons by preachers across Europe (see Sermones.net, online resources, for a discussion of his sermons, the edition of the Sermones quadragesimales, and plans for future editions).

Jacobus de Voragine was born c. 1230 in Varazze, near Genoa, and entered the Dominican order in 1244. Little is known about his early career, but he undoubtedly circulated as a preacher in many parts of Italy and taught in schools of the order. He held a number of important posts as a Dominican, including serving as the provincial of Lombardy from 1267-1277, and again from 1281-1286, and was bishop of Genoa from 1292 until his death in 1298. In addition to the Golden Legend and his sermon collections, he composed a chronicle of Genoa (the Chronicon januense) and a text on the Virgin Mary, the Liber Marialis.

This manuscript poses a puzzle for the investigator. Identifying its contents is only a first step to asking the question of why these particular texts were chosen, leading to the tantalizing question, is it possible to determine who compiled these extracts, and for what purpose? The description above, although detailed, is preliminary. The numerous passages from the Legenda aurea that begin with a rubric can be identified in the critical edition fairly easily. However, there are also passages copied without headings, distinguished from other sections only by red paragraph-marks. Some of these have been identified above, but additional analysis may uncover more. Moreover, the compiler of these extracts copied only selected portions of the lives he chose; careful study may also reveal why some passages were included, and others omitted.

One of the innovations of Jacobus de Voragine’s text is that is arranged according to the liturgical year, making it particularly useful as a source of sermon material. This collection, in contrast, is organized according to the type of saint. The manuscript begins with six of the twelve apostles (Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, Mathias, and Simon and Jude), followed by Paul. The manuscript now begins imperfectly in the legend of St. Thomas, and we can assume that it most likely once included all the Apostles. The saints that follow, arranged roughly in liturgical order, are more difficult to categorize. The prominence of saints associated with the desert fathers and early monasticism is noticeable (Macarius, Anthony the Great, Basil of Caesarea, Arsenius, Moses and Pastor). Benedict fits well within this group, but passages from the legends of Agnes, the Invention of the Cross, and Dominic, and others, are more difficult to classify.

The contents of this manuscript thus present an interesting historical conundrum – does the focus on monastic saints mean it was copied for use in a monastic environment? Does the text of the Breviary leaves, used as this manuscript’s wrapper for centuries, provide further clues? Given the relatively early date of this manuscript, within the first generation following the death of Jacobus de Voragine, or even during the last years of his life, this is a question of considerable interest; it awaits further research.

II. [Breviary Wrappers]
f. 1-4v, Four leaves from a monastic Breviary, with the following feasts: f. 1rv, Barbara (4 December), beginning imperfectly; f. 1v-2v, Lucy (13 December); f. 2v, Apostle Thomas (21 December), short fragment only, ending imperfectly; f. 3, Agnes (21 January), beginning imperfectly; f. 3rv, Vincent (22 January); ff. 3v-4, Conversion of Paul (25 January); f. 4v, second feast of Agnes (28 Jaunary), short fragment, ending imperfectly.


Bériou, Nicole. “Les Sermons latins après 1200,” in Beverly Mayne Kienzle. The Sermon, Typologie des sources du moyen âge occidental 81-83, Turnhout, Brepols, 2000.

Fleith, Barbara and Franco Morenzoni, eds. De la sainteté a l'hagiographie : genèse et usage de la Légende dorée, Geneva, Droz, 2001.

Fleith, Barbara. Studien zur Überlieferungsgeschichte der lateinischen Legenda Aurea, Subsidia hagiographica 72, Brussels, Société des Bollandistes, 1991.

Jacobus de Voragine. La légende dorée, ed. and trans. Gustave Brunet, Paris, Classiques Garnier, 2010.

Jacobus de Voragine. The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints, transl. William Granger Ryan, Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press, 1993.

[Jacobus, de Voragine] Iacopo d Varazze. Legenda aurea, edizione critica, ed. Giovanni Paolo Maggioni, Tavarnuzze (Firenze), SISMEL - Edizioni del Galluzzo, 1998-1999.

Kaeppeli, Thomas. Scriptores ordinis praedicatorum medii aevi, Rome, Ad S. Sabinae, 1970- .

Le Goff, Jacques. A la recherche du temps sacré : Jacques de Voragine et la légende dorée, Paris, Perrin, 2011.

Longère, Jean. La prédication médiévale, Paris, Etudes augustiniennes, 1983.

Maggioni, Giovanni Paolo. Ricerche sulla composizione e sulla trasmissione della Legenda Aurea, Spoleto, Centro italiano di studi sull'alto medioevo, 1995.

Murano, Giovanna. Opere diffuse per exemplar e pecia, Turnhout, Brepols, 2005.

Pope, Joseph. One Hundred and Twenty-Five Manuscripts. Bergendal Collection Catalogue, Toronto, 1999.

Pope, Joseph. “The Library that Father Boyle Built,” in A Distinct Voice: Medieval Studies in Honor of Leonard Boyle, O.P., ed. Jacqueline Brown and William P. Stoneman, Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 1997, pp. 157-162.

Schneyer, Johann Baptist. Repertorium der lateinischen Sermones des Mittelalters für die Zeit von 1150–1350, Münster, 1969–1990.

Seybold, R. F. “Fifteenth Century Editons of the ‘Legenda aurea’,” Speculum 21 (1946) 327-28.

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., ed. Jacqueline Brown and William P. Stoneman, Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 1997, pp. 163-206.

Thomson, S. Harrison. Latin Bookhands of the Later Middle Ages 1100-1500, Cambridge, 1969.

Online resources

Bergendal Collection of Medieval Manuscripts

Golden Legend, English translation (based on William Caxton’s version), Internet History Sourcebook (Medieval History)

Jacobi a Voragine Legenda aurea vulgo Historia lombardica dicta, ed. Th. Graesse, Leipzig, 1850

Sermones.net: Édition électronique d’un corpus de sermons latins médiévaux

Edition with biography and historical background, Jacobus de Voragine, Sermones quadragesimales

Medieval Sermons and Homilies; Bibliography, by Professor Charles Wright, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

John M. Howe, Texas Tech University, Sermons; Bibliography