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les Enluminures

Franciscan Miscellany: ISAAC OF NINEVEH, Liber de contemptu mundi, Latin translation; PSEUDO-BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX, De Contemptu Mundi; JACOBUS MEDIOLANENSIS, Liber de Stimulis Amoris; AEGIDIUS ASSISIENSIS, Dicta; PSEUDO-BONAVENTURA (JACOBUS MEDIOLANENSIS ?) Expositio super Pater Noster and Meditatio super salve regina; RICHARD OF ST. VICTOR, Tractatus de quattuor gradibus violentae caritatis; ARNOLDUS BONAEVALLIS, De ultimis verbis domini (Tractatus de sex verbis domini in cruce); OGLERIUS LOCEDIENSIS (PSEUDO-BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX), Planctus Mariae; PSEUDO-AUGUSTINE, Meditationes

In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
Northern Italy, c. 1260-1280; c. 1280-1300

TM 675


i (paper) + 218 + i (paper) folios on folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil top outer corner recto, complete (collation, i-v10 vi12 vii2 viii-xiii10 xiv-xx12 xxi10), horizontal catchwords inner lower margin (quire twenty, center) added, ruled very lightly in lead, horizontal rules sometimes full across, full-length vertical bounding lines (justification, 108-105 x 65-65 mm.; ff. 137-168, 112-108 x 72 mm.), written below the top line in a rounded southern Gothic bookhand by as many as six scribes: scribe one, ff. 1-64, and scribe two, ff. 65-124v,  in twenty-six to twenty-eight long lines (f. 125, copied in a quick gothic noting hand by another scribe; possibly a replacement leaf?), scribe three, ff. 125v-135v, copied in a more mature gothic script in twenty-seven long lines, scribe four, ff. 137-168, copied by one or two scribes in thirty- to thirty-one long lines, ruled in lead with double outer vertical bounding lines, ff. 173-217v, copied by another scribe in twenty-nine long lines (possibly the same scribe that copied ff. 125v-135v), red rubrics, guide letters/notes for the initials or rubricator, outer margin (e.g., f. 68), f. 3, 1-line alternately red and blue initials (blue initials occasionally decorated with simple red pen strokes), 3- to 2-line alternately red and blue initials with pen decoration in the other color, f. 40, pen decoration depicting a bird, THREE SMALL COLORED DRAWINGS, f. 65, a standing figure of a saint; tonsured, brown robe, bare feet (St. Francis?) in the blank space for the 3-line initial (extending partially into the upper margin); f. 85, a standing Franciscan monk in the blank space for the two-line initial (extending partially into the upper margin); f. 121v, a kneeling Franciscan in the blank space for the two-line initial (drawing is equivalent to six-lines of text), f. 1, 7-line HISTORIATED INITIAL depicting the author (Isaac of Syria?) presenting his book to Christ, author, with halo, is kneeling, dressed in a bright red robe, Christ, dressed in green with a brown over-mantle receives the book, one hand stretched out in benediction, both on a blue ground with white highlights, slight worming to first few leaves, trimmed (occasional slight loss of tips of pen decoration, e.g., f. 8v, or edges of marginal notes), a few folios with small amounts of flaking and/or abraded ink. Bound in a seventeenth- or eighteenth-century limp vellum binding, smooth spine, with title in ink, “Delectus/ opusculorum [al]iquot de re al/[ie] Abb. Vsaac/ de Syria/ Bernardus/ Bonaventur[a]/ Egidius Perusi/us Gerzon [sic]/ Anselmus.” Dimensions 136 x 92 mm.

This carefully copied, small-format, portable Franciscan spiritual miscellany, with an illuminated initial and charming colored drawings of St. Francis and Franciscan monks inserted in the space for initials, includes early (contemporary?) copies of the Latin translation of the Liber de Contemptu mundi by Isaac of Nineveh, a text particularly important to the Spiritual Franciscans, and the Stimulus amoris by James of Milan. Thirteenth-century manuscripts are increasingly rare, and this is a manuscript important for Franciscan history and the history of spirituality in the West.


1. Although at first glance, this manuscript appears fairly homogenous, and it was certainly copied in northern Italy in the second half of the thirteenth century, careful study suggests it may have been copied over several decades. The evidence of the script, together with the style of the pen decoration and the illumination of the earliest portion, copied by at least two scribes, from ff. 1-124v, strongly suggest an origin in northern Italy, perhaps Padua or Venice, in the third quarter of the thirteenth century (see Avril and Gousset, 1984, cat. nos. 4, 5, and 7, Paris, BNF, MSS lat. 232, 209, and 174), or possibly in Bologna (cat. no. 97, BNF, MS n.a.l. 3184). The manuscript is not dated, and this suggested date is based on stylistic comparisons; the texts included in this early section of the manuscript suggest that a date toward the end of the third quarter of the century is most likely, possibly as late as c. 1260-1280. The remainder of the manuscript, again copied by several scribes, in several independent sections, seems likely to be later, probably copied near the end of the thirteenth century. The content of the manuscript leaves little doubt that it was made for Franciscan use, and its small portable format would have been convenient for a travelling Friar.

The manuscript was copied in sections, leaving blank leaves at the end of a number of quires: f. 64v (quire 7), ff. 83v-84v (quire 9), ff. 135v-136v (quire 14), ff. 217v-218v (quire 21). These blank leaves were used by two writers, probably in the seventeenth century for notes. The first copied rather random notes on Church history on ff. 64v, 83v-84, 135v-136v and 168v; the second hand copied a longer text on ff. 168v-172v, probably continuing, ff. 217v-218v, that deserves further study, but probably also relates to ecclesiastical history. It seems likely that these two writers may have been students – perhaps novices in a monastery, or seminarians, simply using the blank pages (their notes do not appear to have any relationship to the contents of the manuscript).

The contemporary notes marginal notes added to Isaac of Nineveh’s, Liber de contemptu mundi, are of special interest and deserve careful study given the importance of this text to the Franciscans in the thirteenth century, and in particular the Spiritual Franciscans, proponents of adhering to a strict interpretation of St. Francis’ view of poverty (and indeed, given the likelihood that the Latin translation of the text may have been made in Franciscan circles); short notes on the contents are found throughout this first text in several hands, as well as cross references (e.g., ff. 1v, 21, 26, and 41v), corrections, including variants (e.g. f. 24, 27v), and on f. 7v, a note mentioning a work by Peter Damian (d. 1072), all evidence of the reception of this text in Franciscan circles.

Letters were also added in the margins of this text, presumably to facilitate references to the text (?); the series now begins on f. 9v (b, c, d), continues through f. 18 (y), and begins again on f. 18v (a), continuing through f. 19v (d).

2. Evidence of use into the eighteenth century includes the table of contents that was added in 1782 on verso of the front flyleaf: “P. D. Dominicus Turboli C. A. hunc indicem scripsi anno 1782.”

3. Private North American Collection.


ff. 1-64, Incipit liber beati ysaac abbatis de syria, incipit, Anima que deum diligit in solo deo quietem habet. Anticipa soluere …; f. 8v, Sermo secundus, incipit, Multum honorem dedit deus hominibus per doctrinam duplicem quia eis apperiunt …; f. 16v, Sermo iii, incipit, “Quando quis in aliquam ruinam peccati …”; f. 23, Sermo per interrogationem et responsionem, incipit, “Quo vinculo retinetur … uirtus boni operis est”, Explicit ysac [sic]. [Ends top f. 64, remainder blank except for added note, on the following text, incipit, “Liber Beati Bernardi de Contemptu mundi …”];

Isaac of Nineveh, Liber de contemptu mundi; the text is frequently, and misleadingly, attributed to Isaac the Syrian; the author is, in fact, Isaac, Bishop of Nineveh. The Latin text was first printed in Barcelona 1497, and then in Venice in 1506; it appeared in a number of sixteenth century collections including La Bigne, Bibl. Sanctorum, 1575, and a version was printed (in Latin) in the nineteenth century in Migne, Patrologiae graeca, vol. 86:811-86.  

The text was known to the West in a Latin translation, probably made in Franciscan circles in the thirteenth century. The date and the author of the translation have been debated in the scholarly literature (summarized in Chialà, 2002, pp. 354-358; Janeras, 2007, pp. 250-255); the suggestion that it was translated by Pietro da Fossombrone (also known as Angelo Clareno, 1255/60-1337), is no longer generally accepted. A Latin version was known in Montpellier to the Catalan author Peter John Olivi (1248-1298), and the earliest citation of the work in Latin is found in the Tractatus pauperis of John Peckham (c. 1230-1292), which must date from before 1270.

There is no modern study with a full census of manuscripts or a modern critical edition of the Latin text, but it fairly circulated widely, and is found in as many as forty-two manuscripts, according to Janeras (Janeras, 2007, p. 251, who does not list the manuscripts; Chialà, 2002, listed twenty-two, pp. 355-6, n. 180, Munitz, 1974, pp. 179-80, nineteen, Cambraia, 1989, pp. 8-9, eighteen). Florence, Bibl. Laurenziana, Plut. LXXXIX.96, a thirteenth-century manuscript, probably Franciscan, is commonly cited as the oldest Latin manuscript; the manuscript described here (unreported in the scholarly literature), and which is certainly also from the thirteenth century, deserves careful consideration for any further study, or modern edition, of this text.

Little is known of Isaac of Nineveh’s life apart from the fact that he was made bishop of Nineveh by the patriarch George (660-680), but retired after only five months to live as a hermit attached to the monastery of Rabban Shabor. He was known for his great asceticism; when he died he was almost blind (traditionally because of too much time spent studying). His writings are popular today; the Syriac text was translated into Greek by the eighth or ninth century, and then known in the West in a Latin translation of the Greek from the thirteenth, when the text was especially popular in Franciscan circles (Chialà, 2002, pp. 295-299) – in particular among the Spiritual Franciscans who found in Isaac’s writings support for their doctrine of evangelical poverty.

f. 64v, Notes added on a blank leaf in a seventeenth-century (?) hand discussing the conversion of the Pantheon to Christian use.

ff. 65-83, [added, Liber beati bernardi de contemptu mundi] incipit, “Multi multa sciunt sed semetipsos nesciunt … cum sponsa prospicies unum eumdemque dominum glorie. Qui uiuit et regnat infinita secula seculorum. Amen”, Explicit liber Beati Bernardi clarauallensis abbatis, Amen [ends mid f. 83];

Pseudo-Bernardus Claraevallensis, Meditationes de humana conditione; printed in Migne, Patrologia latina, vol. 184:485-508; the fifteen chapters in our manuscript agree with the PL edition.  Bloomfield, 1979, no. 3126, lists numerous manuscripts (probably around two hundred); see also Newhauser and Bejczy, 2008, p. 198, no. 3126. 

The text circulated often with attributions to Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), as here (in a note added by a later hand), but manuscripts attribute the text to Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033-1109) and Hugh of St. Victor (c. 1096-1141); Hunt, 1961, p. 28, suggested William of Tournai, a Dominican active 1264-93?, and master of theology in Paris, 1272-4, as the author, but on what basis is unclear.

f. 83, [texts added in the blank space at the end of the preceding text in a small, formal contemporary script] incipit, “Augustinus. Isti sunt gradus humilitatis. Primus gradus humilitatis est cordem et corpore semper humilitatem ostendere …; Isti sunt gradus superbie. Primus gradus curiositas …; Bernardus. Quid facies o anima ….”;

The same hand added a note in the lower margin, ff. 67v-68, incipit, “Septem sunt scale quibus ascenditur celorum …” [There are seven steps to ascend to heaven, chastity, contempt of the world, humility, obedience, patience, hope, and charity].

ff. 83v-84v, Notes on ecclesiastical history added on blank leaves in a seventeenth-century (?) hand,  incipit, “In urbe veteri fundatio <?> s. Mariae Majoris Nicola[e] quarto papa  …” [The church of Santa Maria Maggiore was rebuilt by Nicholas IV (1288-1292)]; … B. Gregorius iii papa qui synodo ...; S. damasus papae <?> qui hieronymi probaui …; S. Zozimus (pope from 417-418) … et dicitur synodus chalcedonensis”;

ff. 85-121v [added title, f. 84v, Incipit stimulus amoris secundum bonauenturam cardinalem de ordine fratrum minoris], incipit, “Transfige dulcissime domine [added: Ihesu] medullas anime mee … et immobiliter radicata sint semper mens mea et cor meum. Amen. O lector quando hoc tibi optaveris opta et mihi”; Qualiter homo possit in bono amplius proficere et deo magis placere, incipit, “Primo studeat quantum possit se uilissimum  reputare … Quod ipse concedat qui est benedictus in secula. Amen. Unde in breui regula … uel aliorum tristiam peccatorum”; [f. 118] incipit, “Ad compatiendum domino ihesu christo crucifixo primo studeas quantum potes …. Nam quarto ferventius … et te cum presim uiuere in eternum. Amen. Amen. Qui voluerit supradictum beneficium impetrare ad beatum franciscum … ei se tamqaum filium exhibere”;

James of Milan (Pseudo-Bonaventure), Stimulus amoris; this is the earliest, short version of the text, edited in Bibliotheca Franciscana ascetica Medii Aevi, IV, Ad Claras Aquas 1905, pp. 1-132 (second ed., 1949); Distelbrink, 1975 p. 196, no. 219; Bloomfield, 1979, no. 4159; Newhauser and Bejczy, 2008, no. 4159, p. 244.  The text was extremely popular, surviving in its earliest version in some ninety manuscripts, and in the longer versions in as many as 221 manuscripts, and an additional 147 manuscripts with partial texts (Karnes, 2011, p. 146; Eisermann, 2011, catalogued more than 500 Latin manuscripts of the text); the earliest dated copy known to Eisermann was Perugia, Biblioteca Comunale, Cod. 280, dated 1301, and his list includes in addition two thirteenth-century manuscripts, and five from the end of the thirteenth or early fourteenth century. The vast majority of the surviving manuscripts are later; in Eisermann’s list there are only twenty additional manuscripts from the first half of the fourteenth century. In a 2007 article, however, Amy Neff discusses Florence, Laur. MS Plut. 25.3, a manuscript from Genoa (based on evidence from the calendar), that includes two chapters from the text, dated 1292. Neff describes this manuscript as the only extant copy of the text from thirteenth- or fourteenth-century Italy from Northern Italy; the Italian copies known to Eisermann from these centuries were all from Umbria or Tuscany. The manuscript described here is therefore important both for its date – it is certainly one of the earlier copies of this text – and as the second known early copy from northern Italy.

Transmission of the text was complicated, with numerous variations found in the manuscripts. This copy is certainly an example of the earliest, short version, and includes the twenty-three chapters as in the printed editions (but lacking the prologue, incipit, “Ad te levavi”), with chapter twenty-three concluding on f. 118 with the short addition printed in the footnote from one manuscript, followed by an additional chapter beginning, “Ad compatiendum domino ihesu christo …” (see transcription above, and cf. edition, pp. 129 and xiv).

This short version of the text is now ascribed to the Franciscan, James of Milan. The contents of the text focus on the love for, and imitation of, Christ, the adoration of the Virgin, and contemplation and union with God. The later, longer version of the text was the basis for the English work by Walter Hilton (d. 1395), The Goad of Love. Nothing is known of the author, Jacobus de Milano/Jacobus Mediolanensis (late 13th-early 14th century?), except that he was an Italian Franciscan, and can possibly be identified with the lector to the Franciscans of Comodossola (Piedmont), documented in 1305. Eisermann has speculated that the Brother John to whom James dedicates the text may by John of Parma, who died in 1289, which would suggest it may date from the 1280s. The presence of the text in the manuscript described here is important, and suggests that the Stimulus amoris (the short version) may in fact have been written even slightly earlier. A review of all the thirteenth century manuscripts, including this one, could shed further light on the origin of this important text.

ff. 121v-125, Incipiunt collationes fratris egidii perusini non de humana sapientia sed de diuinis fontibus promulgate, incipit, “Quia igitur sermo domini est uiuus. Mortuos in peccatis ….”; De uita activa, incipit “Cum nullus sit quid ad contemplatam uitam ualeat ascendere …”; De uirtutibus et gratiis ..., incipit, “Homo infelix uide …. Ab quam ipsam perducens nos dignetur laus et glora in seculorum secula amen. [f. 125, copied in another hand, possibly a replacement leaf];

Aegidius of Assisi (Assisiensis), Dicta (Sayings), here with the prologue and nineteen chapters (unnumbered); edited in Bibl. Franciscana medii aeui 3, Quaracchi, 1905; also known as the Aurea Verba (Golden Words). The Latin text circulated in a number of different versions, with as many as thirty-three chapters, discussing topics including grace, the virtues and vices, faith, love, humility, penitence, prayer, and the reminder of the good death, among others. The Latin sayings were probably collected during Egidio’s lifetime by Brother Leo (author of his Vita), or by Egidio’s companions.

The Blessed Egidio (Aegidius or Giles of Assisi; c. 1190-1262) was the third and most important companion of St. Francis, joining the brothers in 1208. St. Francis called him “our knight of the Round Table”, and he followed Francis faithfully. He was known for his simple, heartfelt preaching; at the end of his life in a hermitage at Monteripido near Perugia he devoted himself to mystical contemplation. His sayings, circulating in several versions, deal with the virtues and vices, solitude, patience, prayer and contemplation, and have been compared with the Sayings of the Desert Fathers. Giles was uneducated, but his oral teachings were treasured by his companions, and recorded in a Latin version.  St. Bonaventure held these sayings in high esteem, and they have been an influential text in the Christian mystical and ascetic tradition, treasured in particular for their faithful reflection of early Franciscan life and teachings. 

ff. 125v-131, [f. 125, rubric added in a later hand, Exposicio super pater noster secundum bonauenturam de ordine fratrum minorum] incipit, “Pater noster qui es in celis etc. O immensa clementia. O ineffabilis benignitas .. Quod ipse nobis prestare dignetur quod est in secula bendictur. Amen”;

Commentary on the Lord’s Prayer, attributed here by a later hand to Bonaventure; printed in Bonaventura, ed. Vatican, 1596, vol. 7, pp. 244-7 and in Bonaventura, ed. Peltier, 1868, vol. 12, pp. 694-699 (as part of the Stimulus amoris, pars 3, ch. 17), and in Migne, Patrologia  Latina vol. 149, 570-578, as well as in earlier editions; Bloomfield, 1979, no. 8637, listing about thirty manuscripts;  Glorieux 305cq; Distelbrink, 1975, pp. 141-142, no. 139; Stegmüller, no. 11055.  Although printed among the works of Bonaventure, modern scholars no longer accept that attribution. The text circulated as part of the long version of the Stimulus amoris (see Canal, 1966), who attributes it to James of Milan.

ff. 131-135v, [rubric added in a later hand, Exposicio super salve regine eiusdem], incipit, “Ad salutandam beatam uirginem primo debes eius magnitudinem … O Clemens O pia O uirgo dilectos maria. [added, Explicit Bonaventuram];
Pseudo-Bonaventure, Meditatio super Salve Regina; the text has been attributed to many authors besides Bonaventure, including the Cistercian, St. Bernard, and Anselm Luccensis, an eleventh-century bishop of Lucca (1036-1086); recent scholars have suggested James of Milan have as the author, because the text frequently appears with the Stimulus amoris; edited in Canal, 1963, pp. 255-263 (on the manuscripts, see pp. 180-181), in the editions of the Stimulus amoris just cited above, and printed in Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. 149:583-590. See also Distelbrink, 1975, p. 156, no. 162; Stegmüller, no. 11061. 
ff. 135v-136v, later notes on ecclesiastical history added in a seventeenth-century (?) hand; events mentioned include the founding of the Cistercian order in 1098, the Council of Nicea, and the communication between Pope Eleutherius (Pope 174/5-189) and the English King Lucius, who wished to convert to Christianity.

ff. 137-157, Incipit tractatus de uerbis domini in cruce, incipit, “Post regulas fidei euangelico dogmate promulgatas … fiant doctores et qui sepulti magistri. Finit etc.”, Explicit tractatus de verbis domini in cruce;

Arnoldus Bonavallis, De ultimis verbis domini (“On the last words of the Lord”) or De septem verbis Domini in cruce (“On the seven words of the Lord on the Cross”); here beginning with tractus one (without the preface); there is no modern critical edition; printed several times including Antwerp,1532, and Migne, Patrologia latina, vol. 189:1677-1726 (cum scholiis et emendatione Francisci Titelmanni Hassellensis); Bestul, 1996, pp. 187-88, no. 8, and p. 206, n. 64; McCulloch, 1964 is an unpublished thesis with an English translation.

There is no complete census of the manuscripts of this text, but it was relatively popular; the majority of the surviving manuscripts are now in public collections in England and France; see Stegmüller,1950-80, no. 2254, listing twelve manuscripts; Oury,1977, listing an additional seven, and “In Principio” (Online Resources) adding four; Yale University, Beinecke Library, Marston MS 268, and Harvard University, Houghton Library, MS lat 191, may be the only copies in the United States.

The De septem verbis domini in cruce, circulated with numerous titles (some manuscripts speak of the “Six Words”, and even in one case, the “Five Words”), and was probably written c. 114-1153; Bestul describes it as (p. 206, n. 64) “a straightforward exposition of Christ’s words on the cross, with little elaboration of the Gospel account.” It emphasizes the victory of Christ by the cross, anticipating the Glory of the Resurrection. Little is known of the life of Arnoldus Bonavallis, or Arnold of Bonneval (d. c. 1156/9); even his name is found with innumerable variations in medieval and modern sources (e.g., Arnaud, Ernaud, Ernaldus, de Bonneval, de Bonavalle, and sometimes Carnotensis, that is “of Chartres”). He may have studied at Chartres, an important center of leaning in the first half of the twelfth century, and was certainly Abbot of Bonneval a Benedictine Abbey near Chartres, c. 1138 (and possibly as early as 1129). He resigned his abbacy and retired to Marmoutier near Tours in 1156. He was known as a man of learning and piety, and a close friend of Bernard of Clairvaux (he was the author of the second book of Bernard’s Vita, commissioned by the monks of Clairvaux). In the past, his works were sometimes attributed to Arnoldus, the abbot of the Cistercian Abbey of Bonnevaux in the diocese of Vienne, a theory that no longer accepted by modern scholars.

 ff. 157v-168, [added in a much later hand, top margin, Gerson de qualitates charitat.] Sermo, incipit, “Vulnerata caritate ego sum etc. Urget caritas de caritate loqui … In quarto resuscitatur. Explicit”;

Richard of St. Victor, Tractatus de quattuor gradibus violentae caritatis, or De gradibus caritatis; ed. Dumeige, 1955, pp. 127-177, with French translation. The text was popular; Dumeige lists thirty-eight manuscripts, and Goy, 2005, no., pp. 325-339, lists seventy-eight (however, many of these are later than the manuscript described here; he lists only eight twelfth-century and eight thirteenth-century manuscripts); also printed in Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. 196:1207-1224; Bloomfield,1979, no. 6550; Newhauser and Bejczy, 2008, no. 6550.

Richard of St.-Victor (c. 1123-1173) was probably born in Scotland; he entered the monastery of St. Victory in Paris as a young man and became a student of Hugh of St. Victor (c. 1096-1141), the noted biblical scholar and theologian.  Richard became prior in 1162. He was the author of a number of exegetical and theological treatises, including the Liber exceptionum (“Book of Notes”), which includes an allegorical commentary on selected Old Testament texts, sermons and interpretations of Gospel passages. He is best known today for his mystical, contemplative works, the Benjamin major and the Benjamin minor, which outline the stages of contemplation and the human understanding of the Divine; these works later influenced St. Bonaventure and other Franciscan mystics.

ff. 168v-172v, later notes, beginning with a brief note on Odilo, Abbot of Cluny in the same seventeenth-century (?) hand that added notes to earlier blank leaves, followed by a long text copied in a different hand, probably also seventeenth century; this text begins continues on the blanks at the end of the volume, ff. 217-218v, and appears to be a continuous text on Church history, but needs further study.

ff. 173-186v [top margin, much later hand, “Venerabili Anselmi de Christus passione et B. V.], incipit, “Omnis qui ad nostrum Emanuel hoc est ad uerbum patris altissimi quod caro factum est … et totam uitam meam mortem et resurrectionem. Illa sit benedicta in eternum et ultra cum fili eius. o Qui cum patre … secula seculorum”; [scribal colophon, text ink and script], incipit, “O fratres qui legitis hunc tractatum dignemini. Orare pro anima mea”;

Pseudo- Bernardus Clareuallensis, Planctus beate mariae; although this circulated with attributions to Bernard of Clairvaux, as well as to Augustine, H. Barré established that it is in actuality an extract from Oglerius Locediensis, De laudibus sanctae Dei genitrix, which was edited by Adriani, 1873 (in a rare edition, not available to this cataloguer; Barré, 1952; Penco, 1969; Capelleno, 1982). The Planctus circulated in three versions; the version in this manuscript, taken from chapters eleven and twelve of Oglerius’ work, classified by Barré as version A, is longer than the widely disseminated version that begins “Quis dabit”, and has not been edited except in the context of Oglerius’ full text; the “Quis dabit”, in contrast has been edited often (see Bestul, 1996, and Marx, 1994).

Oglerius Locediensis (1136-1214), variant forms of his name include Ogier, Ogerius, and Ogerio, was originally from Trino, Italy, served as a papal legate, and then became Abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Locedio in northwestern Italy near Trino, province of Vercelli. The Planctus beate mariae is a moving text that develops the theme of Mary’s suffering at the Cross.

ff. 186v-213, incipit, “Deus miseratur nostri. Te deum ingenitum. Te filium unigenitum  … laudamus atque benedicimus tibi in secula amen”; [f. 186v], incipit, “Summa trinitas virtus una et indiscreta magestas deus noster deus omnipotens … ipsum laudo benedico atque adoro qui vivit et regnat deus in secula seculorum amen. Iubilate deo omnis terra”;

Pseudo-Augustine, Meditationes, chapters 11-37; printed in Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. 40:909-936 (from the Maurist seventeenth-century edition); first printed in Milan, 1475. This very popular text circulated as Augustine’s during the Middle Ages, but is actually a collection of writings from different sources, primarily John of Fécamp, Libellus de scripturis et veteris verbis patrum ad eorum praesertim utilitatem qui contemplativae vitae sunt amatores (Little Book of Writings and Words of the Fathers for the Use Especially of those Who are Lovers of the Contemplative Life), which also circulated simply as Supputationes (Reflections), dedicated to Agnes, the widow of Emperor Henry III, and Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), Orationes (). This collection (and the equally popular Pseudo-Augustinian Soliloquia) was probably compiled in the thirteenth century; see Machielsen, 1990, 2B, pp. 699-705; French translation, Giraud, 1991; English translation, Rotelle, 1995. The text was copied often in the later Middle Ages, remains a popular spiritual work today.

John of Fécamp (990-1078) was born near Ravenna, and with his associate and teacher, William of Volpiano, reformed the abbey of Fécamp. After William’s retirement, John became abbot of Fécamp, and was later abbot of St. Benignus in Dijon. His spiritual writings exerted considerable influence throughout the Middle Ages, although they circulated pseudonymously under the name of other authors (especially Augustine) until modern times (see Leclercq and Bonnes, 1946, and Wilmart, 1932). Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), was also born in Italy, and became Abbot of Bec in Normandy. As Archbishop of Canterbury he was a leader of Church reform. His theological and spiritual writings earned him the title of “the new Augustine.”

f. 213rv, incipit, “Christe domine virtus et sapientia patris … amantissime pulcherimme quando te videbo etc. usque seculorum. Require retro tertio folio ubi est tale signum 3”;

Supplying a passage from the Pseudo-Augustine, Meditationes omitted on f. 211, line 18, the scribe directs the reader “Go back three folios where there is the sign, 3”; this sign is indeed found in the inner margin on f. 211; passage found in Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. 40:934.

ff. 213v-217v, incipit, “Spes mea summe deus etc. usque te deprecor. Qui requiritur circa principium operis in loco ubi inveneris hoc signnm “5.” Te deprecor supplicem  … quod es benedictus cum patre et spiritu sancto in secula seculorum, Amen.”

Supplying a passage from the Pseudo-Augustine, Meditationes on f. 191v (the scribe again directs the reader to find the marginal sign, in this case, “5”).

ff. 217v-218v, Later notes, continued from f. 172v (see above).

This important Franciscan miscellany of spiritual writings consists of two main sections. The first, earlier section is for the most part a copy of contemporary thirteenth-century texts, including the Dicta by Aegidius of Assisi, an early follower of St. Francis himself, the Latin translation of Isaac of Nineveh, Liber de contemptu mundi, with contemporary marginal annotations (see above, provenance), and the Stimulus amoris, in its earliest version by James of Milan. The exact date of the latter two works is unknown, but both certainly date from the thirteenth century among Franciscan circles. This manuscript is therefore an important early witness to both these texts (and to the commentary on the Lord’s Prayer and the meditation on the Salve regina also sometimes attributed to James of Milan), and its importance is underlined by its northern Italian provenance. The second part of the manuscript, dating probably a few decades later, also contains works of spiritual edification, including important twelfth-century texts by Arnold of Bonneval and Richard of St. Victor, together with the Planctus Mariae (often ascribed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, but probably  by a twelfth-century Cistercian, Oglerius Locediensis), and the Pseudo-Augustinian Meditationes.  This last text, so popular in the later Middle Ages, was likely compiled from the writings of two eleventh-century authors, John of Fécamp and Anselm of Canterbury, in the thirteenth century. It will be of great interest to know if further research can pinpoint the Franciscan House where this extraordinary collection of texts was assembled.

The origins of the Franciscan Order can be traced back to its charismatic founder, St. Francis of Assisi, who presented himself and his small group of followers to Pope Innocent III in 1210, and they were then granted permission to live Francis’s radical vision of a life of complete apostolic poverty. From these humble beginnings, the Franciscan Order grew rapidly, attracting members across Europe. This manuscript is a valuable witness to Franciscan learning and spirituality in the thirteenth century.


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Chialà, Sabino. Dall’ascesi eremitica alla misericordia infinita: ricerche su Isacco di Ninive e la sua fortuna, Florence, L.S. Olschki, 2002.

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Dumeige, Gervais. Épître à Séverin sur la charité [par] Ives. Les quatre degrés de la violente charité [par] Richard de Saint-Victor. Texte critique, avec introd., traduction et notes, Paris, J. Vrin, 1955.

Eisermann, Falk. “Stimulus amoris”: Inhalt, lateinische Überlieferung, deutsche Übersetzungen, Rezeption, Tübingen, M. Niemeyer, 2001.

Giraud, Jean-Clair, trans. Les méditations selon S. Augustin, Collection Les Pères dans la foi 43, Paris, Brepols, 1991. 

Glorieux, P. Repertoire des maîtres en théologie de Paris au XIIIe siècle, Paris 1933.

Goy, Rudolf. Die Handschriftliche Überlieferung der Werke Richards von St. Viktor im Mittelalter, Turnhout, Brepols, 2005.

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Isaac, Bishop of Nineveh. The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian, translated by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, Mass., The Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1984.

Jacobus, Mediolanensis. Stimulus amoris fr. Jacobi Mediolanensis ...., edita a pp. Collegii s. Bonaventurae, Ad Claras Aquas (Quaracchi) ex typographia Collegii s. Bonaventurae, 1905.

Janeras, Sebastià. “La diffusion d’Isaac de Ninive dans la Péninsule Ibérique”, in Eastern crossroads : essays on Medieval Christian legacy, ed. Juan Pedro Monferrer-Sala, Piscataway, New Jersey, Gorgias Press, 2007, pp. 247-274.

Karnes, Michelle. Imagination, Meditation, and Cognition in the Middle Ages, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2011.

Kirchberger, Clare, ed. The Goad of Love; An Unpublished translation by Walter Hilton, of the Stimulus amoris formerly attributed to St. Bonaventura, London, Faber and Faber, 1952.

Leclercq, Jean and Jean-Paul Bonnes. Un maître de la vie spirituelle au XIe siècle: Jean de Fécamp, Paris, J. Vrin, 1946.

Machielsen, Johannis, ed. Clavis patristica pseudepigraphorum Medii Aevi, Turnhout, Brepols, 1990--.

Marx,C. W. “The Quis dabit of Oglerius de Tridino, Monk and Abbot of Locedio”, Journal of Medieval Latin 4 (1994), pp. 118-129.

McCulloch, John Vianney. “A Study of Arnold of Bonneval (+ 1157) with a Translation and Critique of the Tractatus de septem verbis Domini in cruce.” Unpublished Translator’s Thesis (M.A. History) Catholic University of America, 1963.

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Munitiz, J. “A Greek Anima christi Prayer”, Eastern Churches Review 6 (1974), pp. 170-180.

Neff, Amy. “An Aristocratic Copy of a Mendicant Text. James of Milan’s Stimulus amoris in 1293”, Franciscan Studies 65 (2007), pp. 235-250.

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Oury, Guy-Marie. “Recherches sur Ernaud abbé de Bonneval”, Revue Mabillon 59 (1977), pp. 97-124.

Penco, G. “Ogerio di Lucedio e il Planctus Mariae”, Benedictina 16 (1969), pp. 126-35. 

Rotelle, John E., ed. Meditations of Saint Augustine, intro. Jean-Clair Giraud, trans. Matthew J. O’Connell, Villanova, PA, Augustinian Press, 1995.

Stegmüller, F. Repertorium biblicum medii aevi, Madrid, 1950-1961, and Supplement, with N. Reinhardt, Madrid, 1976-1980.

Wilmart, André. Auteurs spirituels et textes dévots du moyen âge latin; études d’histoire littéraire, Paris, Bloud et Gay, 1932.

Online resources

Maarten van der Heijden and Bert Roest, Franciscan Authors, 13th-18th century: A Catalogue in Progress

In Principio, Incipit index of Latin texts

Isaac of Nineveh, E. Nestle, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Calvin College

Silvia Mostaccio, “Giacomo da Milano”, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani 54 (2000)

Arsenio Frugoni, “Angelo Clareno (Pietro da Fossombrone)” in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Volume 3 (1961)

Robinson, P. “Franciscan Order”, in The Catholic Encyclopedia, New York, Robert Appleton Company, 1909

The Franciscan Archive; Sources for Franciscan History