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les Enluminures

ST. BERNARDINO OF SIENA, Quadragesimale Seraphim (Sermons for Lent called the Seraphim); selections from Sermones extraordinarii (Miscellaneous Sermons) and selections from Adventuale de inspirationibus (Advent Sermons on Inspiration).

In Latin, decorated manuscript on paper
Northern Italy (probably Padua), soon after 1423

TM 999

221 folios on paper, watermark, three mountains the central one surmounted by a cross, not found in Briquet or Piccard, foliated 1-221 in modern arabic numerals upper right corner rectos, gatherings also identified by modern arabic numerals in upper right corner first recto (contemporary arabic numeral “29” partially cropped in upper margin of. modern f. 28), lacks first leaf and last leaf with loss of text (collation i12 [-1 missing, ±12 contemporary replacement leaf] ii-xi12 xii10 xiii-xiv12 xv12 [-1 blank cancelled] xvi-xviii12 xix10 [-10 missing]),  one catchword only center lower margin of replacement f. 11, no signatures, faint ruling in lead visible on a few folios, single full length bounding lines (justification 187-197 x 133-135 mm.), written in one hand in a tiny semi-gothic book hand in two columns of 44 lines (but many columns shorter), occasional red paraphs and red-stroked majuscules, rubrics and initials supplied in red ff. 5-24, 77-96v, otherwise spaces blank except for minute guide letters for rubricator, marginal notes for rubricator cropped, brief marginal notes in several contemporary hands cropped, intermittent light staining throughout text especially at end with no loss of legibility, first several and last several leaves frayed at edges with loss of only a few words on last folio, several leaves cropped to or into top line of text (ff. 158-161, 179-186, 190-199, 206-207), several quires mended in gutter with cuttings from at least four 14th-15th century manuscripts including liturgical texts and portions of an astronomical diagram. Binding of parchment spine over pasteboards, probably 18th century. Dimensions 237 x 180 mm. 

Sermons remain one the most significant and unmined sources for religious life in the Middle Ages.  This collection is an important new manuscript of the Lenten sermons preached by St. Bernardino of Siena in Padua in 1423.  It offers rare evidence of one key aspect of sermon writing:  the process of reportatio, during which the transcriber took notes as the preacher-saint spoke in Italian and then made the Latin translation recorded here. We see the editor at work in the manuscript, leaving blank spaces for the insertion of additional text and commenting on the arrangement and content of the sermons. Lacking a modern critical edition, these sermons are known in only two other manuscripts and one related version.


1. Copied in northern Italy by a single scribe, possibly soon after 1423 when St. Bernardino of Siena delivered the Italian version of these sermons in Padua during Lent of 1423. The Paduan advocate and notary, Daniele de Purziliis, who took notes on the vernacular sermons and translated them into Latin, explained in a note on f. 21v: “In nomine domini salvatoris amen. Infrascripta sunt recollecta per me danielem de purziliis causidicum et calamo veloci … ex predicationibus ac venerande relionis [sic] viri fratris domini Bernardini ordinis fratrum minorum de observantia sancti francisci qui sacre sciencie radiis et virtutis ac divina eloquentia micat nec dubito quod plurimam omisi et forte perverti plurimas sententias prelatorum que si minus bene scripta perlegis mihi imputes …” (In the name of our lord and savior. Amen. The things written below were collected by me Daniele de Purziliis, a notary, writing quickly, from the sermons of the venerable man of religion, Lord Brother Bernardino of the Observant Franciscan Order, who shines with the radiance of sacred knowledge and virtue and divine eloquence. I do not doubt that I have omitted much and perhaps have misunderstood many expressions of learned men. If in reading you find these things less well expressed, you should impute this to me ….).

The same hand, that of the copyist of the entire manuscript, also inserted further editorial annotations, although these remarks are not entirely clear without more careful study of the sermon texts they accompany or comparison with other manuscripts. These comments are: [f. 33] “Vide istoriam evangelii de parte quod satis est nunc de presenti sermone” (See the gospel story because now this is enough of the present sermon); [f. 68v] “Hic sequi debet precedens predicatio” (The preceding sermon ought to follow here); [f. 82] “Et istam predicationem debes continuare cum ante precedente predicatio proxime superiori” (This sermon ought to follow on with the preceding sermon immediately above); [f. 131] “Istam predicationem ideo posui hic quia continuatur ad precedentem licet sequens precesserit” (I have placed this sermon here because it continues the preceding one although the following one precedes it); [f. 138v] “Hic tractavit de sexta ala de nomine ihesu et de amore glorioso sed quia sequens adaptatur precedenti predicatione ideo posui ipsam hic” (Here he treats of the sixth wing [of the seraphim] concerning the name of Jesus and glorified love, but because it fits in following the preceding sermon I have placed it here); [184v] “Dimisi tertiam partem brevitatis et quia esset nimis prolixa” (I have left out the third part of the report because it would be too long).

Occasional corrections to the text in the hand of the original scribe. Occasional contemporary readers’s notes in the margins.

2. Sixteenth-century ownership inscriptions of an Observant Franciscan convent dedicated to the Annunciation, the location of which has been thoroughly erased: “Loci sanctissimae Annunciata [erased] Ordinis Minorum Regularum Observantiae” (ff. 165v, 174).

3. Inked monogram and inked shelfmark on the vellum spine of the binding.

4. Ink stamps resembling a fleur-de-lys on the vellum spine.


ff. 1-21v, [beginning incompletely] incipit, “//sibi a deo datam communicabat populo dei. Quintus fuit status innocencie et incepit tempore caroli magni …”; [f. 5], incipit, “Exiit qui seminat seminare suum, Luce 8 capitulo [Luke 8:5], Ad evidentiam dicendarum premitto quod in hoc sermone seminare idem est quod inspira[r]e et inspiratio est mentis exercitatio …”; [f. 7], De semine consilii, sermo 3, incipit, “Exiit qui seminat seminare semen suum. De semine inspirationis varie tentationibus promisimus sed in ista predicatione dicere intendimus de semine inspirationis …”; [f. 13v blank]; [f. 14], De operariis malis, sermo 4, incipit, “Voca operarios et reddam illis mercedem suam, Mathei 20 capitulo [Matthew 20:8], Licet scriptum sit nullum bonum inremuneratum et nullum malum inpunitum …”; [f. 15v] De vocatione, sermo 5, incipit, “Multi sunt vocati pauci vero electi, Matei 22 capitulo [Matthew 22:14], Verissima et admirabilis sententia multis modis vocat deus …”; [f.17], De caritate virginis Marie, sermo 6, incipit, “Quam dulcia faucibus meis eloquia tua domina. In mente beatissiime virginis Marie tanta erat dulcedo caritatis et amoris …”; [f. 20], incipit, Suscepimus domine misericordiam tuam in medio templi tui, Ps. 42 [Psalm 47:10], Eloquium misericordie est dulce sicut eloquium de iusticia et terriblile sceverum [sic] … Illumina mentes nostras radio fidei tue claritatis ut dignemur recipere misericordiam tuam in medio temple tui qua mediante perducamur ad vitam sempiternam, AMEN”;

St. Bernardino of Siena, selections from his Sermones extraordinarii and Adventuale de inspirationibus; printed in the 1745 edition of his collected works, Opera omnia, ed. La Haye, vol. III, pp. 351-356 [Extraordinarii, sermon 10]; 146-148, 148-153 [Adventuale, sermons 4 and 5]; 334-336, 336-338, 338-341, 341-343 [Extraordinarii, sermons 4-7]). To judge from their position in this manuscript, preceding the Lenten sermons proper, these seven sermons were preached in the days preceding Ash Wednesday, February 18, 1423 (Pacetti, 1938, pp. 36-37; see also Online Resources).

ff. 21v-198v, incipit, “Die mercurii primo quadragesime, De thesauro amoris, Tesaurizate vobis tesauros in celo, 3o capitulo [Matthew 6:20], Cogitavit tractare in hoc quadragesima venerabilis dominus frater Bernardinus res utiles et speculativas a deo patri et domino ihesu christo ymitando ihesum christum dominum nostrum non solum factis sed etiam dictis, Nam Ihesus loquabatur in parabolis et similitudinibus …”; … [f. 191v], incipit, “Ecce quam bonum et quam iocundum habitare frates in unum Psalo .C. 2o [Psalm 132:1], Ad evidentiam nota tres glorias quam habet anima glorificata in paradiso, Prima est Gloria substantalis id est ecce quam bonum … ut me traheres ad te ut possit tecum cum sanctis tuis in tua beata gloria psallendo cantando et citarizando summa cum felicitate tripudiare et possim iubilando dicere cum beatis spiritibus o quam bonum et quam iocundum est habitare fratres in unum cuius iocunditatis  participes nos facere dignetur eternitas summi dei qui semper sit laudabilis et gloriosus. AMEN”;

St. Bernardino, Quadragesimale (also known as Quadragesimale Seraphim nuncupatum, sive de amore); printed in Opera omnia, ed. La Haye, vol. III, pp. 155-320. The sermons as numbered there occur in this order, with interpolations: 1-16, 18, 17, 19-24; [ff. 83-85], incipit, “Et ihesus sedebat super fontem cum brachiis apertis amoris largativi, Vnde Ysaias .v. capitulo, quis ambulavit in tenebris et non est ei lumen amplectentur peccatores sicut mater stat manibus apertis amplectens filium quia cum morte sua voluit dare vitam cum pena dedit gloriam cum labore quietem, Et ecce mulier samaritana venit haurire aquam spiritualem … Cum venissent ad illum samaritani rogaverunt eum ut ibi maneret et mansit ibi duos dies predicando et docendo et multo pluros crediderunt propter sermonem eius et mulieri dicebant quia iam non propter tuam loquelam credidimus ipsi omnium audivimus et scimus quia hoc vere est salvator mundi qui nobis salutem dignetur concedere per suam misericordiam. AMEN”; 25-43; [ff. 165-168v], incipit, “Igitur si consurexistis cum Christo que sursum sunt querite ubi christus es sedens que sursum sunt sapite non que super terram, ad colosenses 3o capitulo [Colossians 3:1], In quo eloquio operante divino amore demonstratur amor qui dicitur amore magne quietis … tolle audacter corum cristi sed si proposuisti// [incomplete, f. 165v, col. b, blank, f.166, blank]; [ff. 166v-168v], [beginning incompletely], incipit, //”propriam, In peccato fragilitatis oportet quod deus adiuvet nos et ideo petimus dicendo panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis … valeamus adipisci vitam eternam ad quam nobis concedere dignetur qui suis manibus hoc sacramentum suis discipulis communicavit et proprio ore instituit et qui vivit et regnat per infinita secula seculorum, amen, AMEN.”; 44, 46-48. Sermon 45, for Holy Saturday, as printed in Opera omnia, p. 305, appears to have been omitted. However, the two portions of incomplete text found between sermons 43 and 44 [ff. 165-168v; see above] have been partially edited as the sermon Bernardino preached for Holy Saturday in 1423 (Pacetti, 1938, pp. 162-188); the serious physical disturbance between ff. 165 and 166v (the second column of ff. 165v and 166 are blank) and its effect on the text remains to be analyzed.

ff. 198v-221v, incipit, “Et vidi et ecce agnus dei stabat super montem syon et cum illo centum quadraginta milia habentes habentes [sic] nomen eius scriptum in frontibus suis. Iohannis in apocalipsi 14 [Apocalypse 14:1]. Et loquitur de regno dei et omnium volentium fieri beatos et philocaptos amore divino, In quo quidem sacro eloquio nota quatuor magnas contemplationes que hic infra dicuntur … [f. 203], incipit, “Bonitatem et scientiam et disciplinam doce me quia mandatis tuis credidi nimis, Ps. 118 [Psalm 118:66], Nota mirabile eloquium studiorum discipline et rationem infusionis disciplne … [f. 208], incipit, “Honora viduas que vere vidue sunt, Primo ad Timotheum 5 capitulo [1st Timothy 5:3], In hoc sermone intendo scribere tres status viduitatis, Primus status est commendabilis id est que vere vidue sunt … [f. 211v], incipit, “Regnum celorum vim patitur et violenti rapuit ipsum verba sunt magni capitanei domini nostri ihesu cristi agni immaculate, Que sanctissima verba ad tres contemplations extenditur …; [f. 217r-217v] Et sanctus Franciscus post hoc narrat istud prelium ut infra sequitur, incipit, “ In foco lamor me misse In foco lamor me misse In foco damor me misse Lo mia sposo novella … sempre lo in cor fornato de christo de christo [sic] consolato In foco lamor me misse etc.”; [f. 217v], incipit, “Da michi intellectum bonum ut scrutabor legem tuam et custodiam illam in corde meo, Psalo 188 [sic], Dum esset quidam servus dei parisius dicendo istum versum veniebat in tanto lumine intelligentie a quo contemplando fuit raptus a terra in aere … [f. 221v] [verse illegible owing to water damage and frayed edges and small holes in page], Psalmo 8, incipit, “David intendens loqui des sacro baptismate … sed numquid baptizari potest cum aua sulferri”// [incomplete]

Judging from their position in this manuscript, St. Bernardino preached these sermons in Padua in the days after Easter 1423. Drawn from his Sermones extraordinarii, they were published in the 1745 edition of his collected works (Opera omnia, ed. La Haye, vol. III, pp. 321-325 [sermon 1], 347-351 [sermon 9], 343-346 [sermon 8], 326-330 [sermon 2], and 331-334 [sermon 3]. Interpolated between sermons 2 and 3 [f. 217r-217v] are Italian verses attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. That they appear here suggests that Bernardino may have recited them from the pulpit.

St. Bernardino of Siena (1380-1444) was one of the most popular and influential preachers in fifteenth-century Italy. He entered the Observant branch of the Franciscan order in 1403. During the first half of the century he travelled widely among the cities of northern and central Italy, preaching in the open air to large crowds of townspeople and countrymen who eagerly gathered to hear him. Listening to sermons was both a religious duty and popular entertainment. His sermons survive both as collections of formal model sermons in Latin, and sermons, like those in our manuscript, which were taken down by voluntary recorders and preserved in Italian or, in the case of this manuscript, in Latin translation. Such notetaking, known as reportatio, was the common means by which sermons delivered verbally and, to some extent ex tempore, were preserved. Much of Bernardino’s teaching as well as aspects of his personality as he expressed them in hundreds of sermons have been preserved in such reportationes.

Since Christian antiquity, Lent has been one of the two great liturgical seasons (the other being Advent) associated with particularly rich preaching traditions; its essential purpose was always to prepare people for annual confession. Bernardino delivered the sermons in our manuscript in Padua before, during, and after Lent in 1423 (Pacetti, 1938, pp. 35-38). In principle the Quadragesimale proper includes one sermon for each day from Ash Wednesday until the Wednesday after Easter Sunday, although the divisions and presentation of the text in this manuscript, where there are very few rubrics, make it difficult to chart an exact relationship. The title Seraphim is derived from the way in which Bernardino described the seraphim, the heavenly creature that conveyed the stigmata to St. Francis, and then organized his discussion of the types of love by linking each one to one of the seven feathers of each of the seraphim’s six wings. In addition to the varieties of love, these sermons, like many of his others, touch on topics such as sin and penance, the proper place of women, sodomy, and usury. They also illustrate the way in which Bernardino customarily enlivened his sermons with anecdotes, stories, and asides addressed to his audience. This series of sermons comes from an early period in Bernardino’s preaching career (his first major success was in 1417) and deserves study as an example of his development as an orator.

According to the literature, only two other manuscripts of this collection are known: Florence, Biblioteca Medicea-Laurenziana, MS Ashburnham 150, and Assisi, Biblioteca communale, MS 246 (see Pacetti, 1938, pp. 35-39; Online resources, Mirabile database, Bernardino no. 21-6). Another set of Latin reportationes of the same sermons was made by an anonymous writer whose work is preserved in Bergamo, Biblioteca civica, MS Δ V. 23 (see Pacetti, 1935, pp. 191-204; Pacetti, 1942; Online resources, Mirabile database, Bernardino no. 21-7). The manuscript described here is a new and unstudied source, which calls out for a careful comparison with the other witnesses to the saint’s preaching in Padua in 1423.

Daniele de Purziliis (also known as de Purgiliis, de Porcilis, Daniele Porcigli, Daniele de Porcigli, Daniele Porciglia, or Daniele da Porcìa) was an advocate and notary in Padua (see Meneghin, 1984; Gallo, 1989, p.175; Tjarks, 2013, p. 103; Alexander, 2015, pp. 120-122). A layman, he was devoted to the Franciscan order and to St. Bernardino. He recorded the sermons found in this manuscript; also another Lenten series that Bernardino preached in Padua in 1443 (see Pacetti, 1935); and probably other sermons as well (Pacetti, 1938, pp. 35-39; Bastanzio, 1942, p. 4). In honor of the saint he composed a Latin sequence in which he names himself as author; this is preserved in Venice, Museo Correr, Ms. Correr 183 (Meneghin, 1984, pp. 166-168). Notarial records for de Purziliis survive in Padua, covering the years 1401-1455 (Alexander, 2015, p. 121). Comparison of these manuscript documents with the present codex might lead to the identification of his handwriting.

Whether or not this manuscript was copied by de Purziliis himself, it clearly represents a collection in the process of formation.  Blank spaces, usually several lines in length are frequently left within columns or at the ends of columns, and at least four pages and one whole column were left completely blank, suggesting that he may have intended to insert additional material. His editorial comments (quoted above under Provenance) show him reordering sermons based on their content, summarizing texts, or deliberately omitting a sizeable portion of a text. Careful study of this mise-en-page and comparison of these texts with the versions in the other known manuscripts would undoubtedly reveal something of how the process of reportatio worked in practice.


Alexander, Michael J. “Lawyers and Notaries in Medieval Padua,” Medieval Prosopography 29 (2915 for 2914), pp. 120-122.

Bastanzio, Serafino. “Le ultime due prediche di S. Bernardino recitate a Padova nel Giugno del 1443,” Bullettino di studi bernardiniani 8 (1942), pp. 3-29.

Bernardino of Siena. Opera Omnia, Quaracchi, Collegio San Bonaventura, 1950-1965.

Foladore, Giulia. “Veloci calamo recollegi: Daniele da Porcia, reportator di San Bernardino da Siena (Padua, 1423-1433),” Il Santo: Rivista Francescana di Storia, Dottrina e Arte, 2d ser. 48 (2008), pp. 145-168 (not available for consultation).

Gallo, Donato. “Predicatori francescani nella cattedrale di Padova durante il quattrocento,” Le Venezie francescane N.S. 6 (1989), p. 175.

Hanska, Jussi, “‘Sermones quadragesimales.’ Birth and Development of a Genre,” Il Santo. Rivista francescana di storia, dottrina e arte vol. 52 (2012) p. 107-127.

Manselli, R. “Bernardino da Siena, santo,” in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, vol. 9, Rome, 1967, pp. 215-226.

Meneghin, Vittorino. “Daniele Porcigli e una sua sequenza in onore de S. Bernardino da Siena,” Le Venezie francescane N.S 1 (1984), pp. 163-170.

Mormando, Franco. The Preacher’s Demons: Bernardino of Siena and the Social Underworld of Early Renaissance Italy, Chicago, 1999, pp. 1-51.

Muessig, Carolyn. “Bernardino da Siena and Observant Preaching as a Vehicle for Religious Transformation,” in James D. Mixson and Bert Roest, eds. A Companion to Observant Reform in the Later Middle Ages and Beyond (1400-1550), Leiden, 2015, pp. 185-203.

Origo, Iris. The World of San Bernardino, New York, 1962.

Pacetti, Dionisio. De sancti Bernardini Senensis operibus ratio editionis critica, Quaracchi, 1947, pp. 143, 170-174.

Pacetti, Dionisio. “Nuovo codice di prediche inedite,” Bullettino di studi bernardiniani 1 (1935), pp. 191-204.

Pacetti, Dionisio. “Una redazione inedita del ‘Seraphim’ predicate da S. Bernardino a Padova nel 1423,” Bullettino di studi Bernardiniani 4 (1938), pp. 35-63, 162-188.

Pacetti, Dionisio, “Una predica sul SS. Nome di Gesù tenuta a Padova nel 1423 da s. Bernardino da Siena e raccolta da un suo anonimo ascoltatore,” Miscellanea francescana 42 (1942) pp. 259-276 [discussing a different version of sermons from Padua 1423; nep].

Pacetti, Domenico. “Gli scritti de San Bernardino da Siena,” in S. Bernardino da Siena: Saggi e ricerche pubblicati nel quinto centenario della morte (1444-1944), Milan, 1945, pp. 25-138.

Polecritti, Cynthia L. Preaching Peace in Renaissance Italy: Bernardino of Siena and His Audience, Washington DC, 2000.

Tjarks., Sven Ufe. Das “Venezianische” Stadtrecht Paduas von 1420, Berlin, 2013, p. 103.

Wadding, Luke. Scriptores Ordinis Minorum, Rome, 1906, p. 43.

Online Resources

Bernardino of Siena, Opera omnia, ed. Jean de la Haye, Venice, 1745, vol. III

Mirabile: Archivio digitale della cultura medievale / Digital Archives for Medieval Culture

Robinson, Paschal. “St. Bernardine of Siena,” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 2, New York, 1907

TM 999