TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Book of Prayer

In Latin and Italian (rubric, f. 22 only), decorated manuscript on paper
Northern or Central Italy, c. 1450-1480

TM 584

iii (paper) + 89 + i (paper) folios on paper, modern foliation 1-90, including the last endleaf, middle upper margin recto, watermarks, cardinal’s hat, wide but short string, head end with outline of brim, Online Piccard 31972, Venice 1471, similar marks, Online Piccard 31973, Mittelitalien 1464, 31979 and 31980, Padua 1477, and ladder, Briquet 5904, Venice 1451, and Briquet 5908, Rome 1459, two leaves missing at the beginning of the first quire, although the first prayer is complete, and missing an undetermined number of leaves at the end, last quire is complete, but the last text ends imperfectly (collation, i10 [-1and 2] ii-iii10 iv10 [+ one leaf, f. 38, added after 9] v-ix10), vertical catchwords written between the bounding lines reading top to bottom, quires numbered on the first leaf in a modern hand, ruled in lead with double full-length vertical bounding lines (justification, 124-122 x 70-68 mm.), written below the top line in a good humanistic minuscule in twenty-six long lines, guide letters for the initials (often obscured by initial), dark red rubrics, two- to one-line blue initials, ff. 43v-48v, initials and rubrics were not completed, ff. 39v-40, three initials smudged, bottom margin f. 1 repaired, foxing and some minor soiling throughout, but overall in good condition. Bound in nineteenth-century quarter calf and printed marbled paper over pasteboard, smooth spine simply tooled in blind and with six sets of three bands in gold, lettered, “Liber Orationum”, front cover slightly bent, edges, outer corners and front hinge, worn, but in good condition. Dimensions 204 x 131 mm.

This is a comprehensive collection of approximately one hundred and thirteen prayers, copied in an elegant humanistic script with simple, restrained initials. Books of Hours were the most common medieval book for private devotion. Prayer books such as this one are much less common, and most examples are German in origin. This manuscript’s Italian origin and humanistic script are therefore of special interest and provide an interesting contrast with its traditional, devotional contents.


1. Certainly copied in Italy, as indicated by the accomplished humanistic script and elegant capitals, the watermark evidence suggests that it was probably copied in Northern Italy, possibly in Venice or Padua, or Central Italy, possibly in Rome, c. 1450-80. Masculine forms are used throughout, and we can assume that the manuscript was copied for someone whose name began with “A”, since this initial is supplied instead of the more generic “N” (see ff. 4rv, 30rv, and 61v). The prayer mentioning the three Magi, Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar, on f. 30rv, is unusual, and may be useful in establishing the identity of this original owner. Now missing two leaves at the beginning of the first quire, although the first prayer is complete, and an undetermined amount of text at the end, since the last text ends imperfectly, although the last quire is complete.

2. Occasional modern notes throughout in pencil with references for prayers, for example, ff. f. 9, and f. 41v. Modern owners’ and dealers’ annotations have been erased, inside front cover, and front flyleaf, f. i, (diagonally in pencil, “Dr. Vrgha D[or B]urray[?]”), notes on the collation, verso back endleaf, and inside back cover, “90” and “1NU 500.”


f. 1, Dominus Iohannes papa xxii concessit fidelibus in christo dicentibus sequentem orationem genibus flexis mille annos indulgentie peccatorum uenialium et centum annos peccatorum criminialium, incipit, “Anima christi sanctifica me, Corpus christi gloriosissimum salua me …;”

The “Anima Christi” remains one of the most treasured prayers in the Roman Catholic Church, traditionally said after Mass, or after receiving communion. Pope John the XXII (1244-1334) granted indulgences for reciting the prayer in 1330; it may have been written by this Pope or by another writer in the first half of the fourteenth century (Latin and English in
; see also Leroquais, 1927-, 2:340, and Chevalier, 1892-, no. 1090).

f. 1rv, Quotinenscunque aliquis deuote dixerit sequentem orationem habebit tres annos indulgentie, incipit, “Domine yhesu christe fili uirginis marie da michi te diligere ante ueraciter credere …”;

Also in Ebstorf, Bibl. des Klosters IV.13, f. 138v, and IV.5, f. 18v.

f. 1v, Oratio pro sanctissimi sanguinis effusione, incipit, “Tibi laus tibi gloria tibi gratiarum actio amantissime …”;

Cf. Chevalier, 1892-, no. 34024.

ff. 1v-2, Oratio ad singula membra christi afflicta, incipit, “Salve tremebundum caput domini ..”;

Cf. Cambridge, Gonville and Caius College, MS 230(19).

f. 2rv, Oratio deuota ad quinque vulnera christi incipit, “Domine yhesu christe fili dei uiui precor te per santctissima quinque uulnera …”;

Also in Hildesheim, Dombibliothek 735, f. 8v.

ff. 2v-3, Oratio ad corpus domini nostri yhesu christi, incipit, “Ave uerum corpus domini nostri yhesu christi qui de celo decendisti …”;

Wilmart, 1932, p. 369(24).

f. 3rv, Orationes ualde deuote ad patrem, incipit, “Gratias tibi ago domine deus pater omnipotens qui me uilissimum …”;

f. 3v, Alia oratio ad patrem, incipit, “Domine deus omnipotens qui ad principium huius diei nos peruenire fecisti …”;

Also in Basel, UB B.XI.24, f. 113.

f. 3v, Alia oratio ad patrem, incipit, “Dirige et sanctificare regere et gubernare …”;

Ephemerides liturgicae 86 (1972), p. 447.

ff. 3v-4, Alia oratio ad patrem, incipit, “In manus tuas domine commendo spiritum meum …”;

Leroquais, 1927-, 1:154.

f. 4rv, Alia oratio ad deum patrem, incipit, “Deus qui pulcherrima facie tua cuncta aspicis aspice in me A famulo tuo …”;

f. 4v, Oratio ad filium, incipit, “Domine yhesu christe que est ista manus clauiorum …”;

f. 4v, [rubric lacking], incipit, Domine yhesu christe qui super aspidem et basilicum amulabis …”;

Also in Monserrat, Archivo y Bibl. de la Abad 1, f. 53.

f. 4v, Oratio ad filium, incipit “Domine yhesu christe qui propter me et propter omnes christianos …”;

ff. 4v-5, Alia oratio ad filium, incipit, “Domine yhesu christe cuius dignissimo latere tuo sanguis …”;

f. 5rv, Alia oratio ad filium, incipit, “Domine yhesu christe fili sancta marie uirginis precor te per sanctam incarnationem tuam parce michi …”;

f. 5v, Alia oratio ad filium, incipit “Domine yhesu christe fili dei uiui qui es uerus ominipotens splendor et ymago patris …;”

Wilmart, 1940, p. 139.

ff. 5v-6, Ad idem, incipit, “Precor te piissime et amantissime domine mi yhesu christe propter illam caritatem …”;

Leroquais, 1927-, 2:443; Wilmart, 1932, p. 378n. (no. 12).

f. 6, Oratio ualde utilis, incipit “Ihesus autem transiens per medium illorum ibat … O bone yhesu liber me de isto periculo nunc et in omni tempore uite mee. Amen”;

Also in Chicago, Newberry Library, MS 56.

ff. 6-7, Oratio ad filium, incipit, “Clementissime domine mi yhesu christe subueniat michi etiam nunc caput tuam piisimam clementiam …”;

ff. 7-8v, Oratio ad deum patrem, incipit, “Te deum adoro te laudo et superexalto ymnum laudem et gloria …”;

ff. 8v-9, Ad sanctam trinitatem pro acceptis beneficis gratiarum actio deuotissima deo accepta, incipit, “Laudes et gratias tibi ago o beatissima trinitas de benefitiis mei creationis in quo michi indigno famulo tuo …”;

ff. 9-10v, Oratio ad sanctam trinitatem, incipit, “Pater filii sancta spiritus deus trine et une …”;

ff. 10v-11, Oratio ad sanctam trinitatem, incipit, “O divine maiestatis excellentissima summa trinitas …”;

Cf. BAV, Reg lat 83, f. 1rv (attributed to Augustine).

f. 11rv, Alia oratio ad sanctam trinitatem, incipit, “Gloria sit tinitati laus sit eterne unitati per eterna secula …”;

f. 11v, Alia oratio ad sanctam trinitatem, incipit, “Omnipotens sempiterne deus qui dedisti famulus tuus …”;

Also in Chicago, Newberry Library, MS 50, no. 13, f. 73.

ff. 11v-12v, Oratio ad spiritum sanctum, incipit, “Domine sancta spiritus coeterne et consubstantialis patri et filio qui super yhesum christum dominum nostrum in columbe specie et super sanctos …”;

Wilmart, 1937-45, 1:646.

ff. 12v-13, Oratio ad adorandam sanctam crucem, incipit, “Domine yhesu christe gloriose conditor mundi qui cum sis splendor …”;

Eichstätt, UB 112, f. 39; Wilmart, 1940, p. 141.

ff. 13rv, Alia oratio ad crucem, incipit, “Adoro te domine yhesu christe in cruce ascendentem…”;

Sion/Sitten, Arch. du Vén. Chap. 29, f. 59.

ff. 13v-14, Alia oratio ad crucem, incipit, “Ominpotens sempiterne deus pater omnium creaturarum sit pietas tua superne …”;

Leroquais, 1927-, 1:159.

f. 14, Alia oratio ad spiritum sanctum, incipit, “In nomine yhesu christi filii tui deus pater te deprecor …”;

f. 14rv, Alia oratio ad sanctam crucem, incipit, “Emitte domine spiritum tuum in uisceribus meis qui animam meam …”;

ff. 14v-15, Alia oratio ad crucem, incipit, “Crux benedicta redemptio nostra liberatio nostra …”;

f. 15, Oratio ad caput christi perforatum, O redemptor mundi qui spineam coronam in caput …”;

Also in BAV, Reg. lat 121, f. 106.

f. 15rv, Oratio ad brachia christi in cruce extensa, incipit, O deus amator castitatis qui brachia tua …;”

f. 15v, Oratio ad filium in cruce potatum, incipit, “O liberator animarum nostrarum qui in cruce tetigisti amaritudinem aceti…”;

ff. 15v-16, [rubric lacking], incipit, “O deus consolatori omnium pressuarum qui lancea latus tuum …”;

f. 16, Oratio ad pedes chrsti in cruce perforatos, incipit, “O largitor uite perpetue qui sanctissimos pedes tuos in cruce …”;

f. 16rv, Oratio ad sanctum michaelem arcangelum, incpit, “Sancte Michael archangele domini nostri yhesu christi qui uenisti …”;

Also in Munich, BSB, clm 10125, f. 209v.

f. 16v, Oratio ad sanctum angelum gabrielem, incipit, “Precor te princeps egregie Gabriel fortissimo agonetica [sic] …”;

Wilmart, 1932, p. 580.

ff. 16v-17, Oratio ad angelum raphaelem, incipit, “Auxiliare michi obsecro et tu princeps eximie Raphael animarum et corporum optime …”;

Also in Oxford, Bodleian Library, Lyell MS 30, f. 202.

f. 17, Oratio ad angelum custodem anime nostre, incipit, “Queso te et obsequenter rogo te sancte angele dei …”;

Wilmart, 1932, p. 581.

f. 17rv, Alia oratio, incipit, “Credo quod si angelus sanctus ad custodiam dei deputatis propterea peto et per illum qui te ab hoc ordinauit humiliter …”;

ff. 17v-18, Alia oratio, incipit, “Obsecro te angelice spiritus cui ego ad prouidendum a deo commissus sum ut custodias me …”;

Wilmart, 1932, p. 542; English translation,

f. 18, Oratio ad omnes angelos, incipit, “Obsecro uos o sancta Michael sancta Gabriel sancta Raphael …”;

ff. 18-19, Oratio pro sacramento, incipit, “Omnipotens et misericors deus ego indignissimus peccator accedo …”;

f. 19rv, Oratio in eleuatione uel post eleuatione corpus christi, incipit, “Ave sanctissimum et suauissimum corpus dominicum in hoc sacramento contentum te confiteor …”;

Also in Brussels, BR 1557-1604, f. 298v.

ff. 19v-20, Alia oratio, incipit, “Domine non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum sed confisus de tanta pietate …”;

ff. 19v-20, Alia oratio, incipit, “O dulcisime yhesu christe da michi cor mundum contritum …”;

f. 20, Alia oratio, incipit, “Accende illumine et sanctifica me uas tuum …”;

f. 20rv, Oratio sancti Sebastiani martiris, incipit, “O sancta Sebastiane semper uespere et mane. Horis cunctis et momentis. Dum adhuc sum sane mentis … O martir pie tu mediolanus ciuis hanc pestilentiam si uis … quia a multis est scitum quod ad hoc habes meritum Zodautam [sic] tu sanasti et sanatam restaurasti Nicostrato eius uiro ...”;

Cf. William Dufay (1397-1474); text at:
http://www.columbia.edu/itc/music/ito/history/dufay_text.html (with English translation).

ff. 20v-21, Alia oratio, incipit, “Omnipotens sempiterne deus qui precibus et meritis beati ac gloriosi martiris Sebastiani …”;

f. 21, Alia oratio, incipit, “Deus qui beatum Sebastianum martirem in tuum in tua fide …”;

f. 21rv, Oratio similis contra pestilentiam cum responsorio et versiculo, incipit, “Recordare domine testamenti tui et dic angelo …”;

Also in Autun, Bib. mun. S188, f. 220v.

f. 22rv, Queste infrascripte orationi si debbono dire ginochioni dinanzi alla ymagine della pieta del nostro signore com cinque pater nostri et cinque aue marie et chi le dice ben confesso et contrito et con diuotione ha di indulgentia anni ventimila nouantasette et di trenta confermata da molti pontesci, incipit, “O domine yhesu christe adoro te in cruce pendentem … Pater noster. Aue maria”;

Leroquais, 1927-, 2:346; English and Latin at

ff. 22v-23, Quicunque orationem infrascriptam semel singulo die deuote legerit ad testante beato Gregorio papa nec diabolus nec alius quisquam malus homo eius corpori aut anime nocere poterit …, incipit “Domine yhesu christe redemptor mundi defende me de manu inimicorum ...”;

Leroquais, 1927-, 1:280.

ff. 23v-25, Oratio ad deum patrem, incipit, “Mane cum surrexero intende ad me domine et guberna omnes actus meos ...”

Ps. Jerome, Oratio mautinalis; PL 101:490-91.

ff. 25-26, Alia oratio ad deum, incipit, “Deus iustitie deus misericordie deus inuisibilis deus incomprehensiblis deus inextimablilis …”;

f. 26rv, Oratio ad deum patrem, incipit, “Lux uera mundi ueri luminis conditor doce me quid debeam facere …

continuing, f. 26v-27, ad filium, f. 27rv, ad filium, f. 27v-28, ad deum patrem, f. 28rv, ad deum patrem, f. 29 [rubric lacking], f. 29rv, ad filium, f. 29v, ad filium;

f. 30, [rubric lacking], incipit, “Beatus es Agabar rex qui me non uidisti …”;

f. 30rv, Oratio ad deum, incipit, “Domine deus qui Guaspar Baldassar Melchior recto itinere perduxisti … si placet fac me A famulum tuum … ”;

ff. 30-32, Oratio ad deum, incipit, “Confiteor tibi deo regi patri celi … Peccaui per negligentiam mandatorum tuorum, Peccaui per superbiam …, Peccaui per fornificatorem …”;

f. 32, Oratio ad deum, incipit, “Suscipere digneris domine deus omnipotens laudes et orationes …”;

ff. 32rv, Isti sequentes uersiculi fuerunt electi per sanctum Bernardum quos siquis quotidie deuote dixerint prescient diem sui obitus ut fertur, incipit, “Illumina domina oculos meos ne unquam obdormiam in morte …”;

Leroquais, 1927-, 2:415.

ff. 32v-34v, Hic est oratio quam beatus Augustinus scripsit angelo dictante et quicunque illam dixerit in illo die uel in illa nocte nnullus malus spiritus nec inimicus ei nocebit ..., incipit, “Dominus deus omnipotens qui es unus qui semper es in omnibus …”;

Also in Cambridge, St. John’s College, MS 42, f. 132 (also attributed to Augustine).

ff. 34v-35, Oratio beati Augustini, incipit, “Ante oculos tuos culpas nostras fecimus …”;

Also in Venice, BN Marciana 4348 [L XIV 288], f. 56rv (also attributed to Augustine); Chevalier, 1892-, no. 1173.

f. 35rv, Oratio beati Gregori, incipit, “Da michi domine confessionem qui tibi placita sit …”;

Also in Montpellier, BU, Sect. de Méd. MS 303.

ff. 35v-36, Oratio pape Iohannis xxii et dat indulgentiam centum annorum pro qualibet uice …, incipit, “Domine yhesu chrisie fili dei uii qui pro redemptione mundi nasci …”;

ff. 36-37, Oratio sancti Thomae de aquino quam dicebit omni die genibus flexis, incipit, “Concede michi misericors deus cupiscere prudenter inuestigare …”;

Doyle, 1948.

ff. 37-39v, Oratio deuotissima, incipit, “Piisime et clementissime deus qui mariam magdalenam tuam diu in peccato uersatam …”;

Continuing with prayers, f. 39v, 39v-40, ad personam patris, f. 40, ad personam filii, f. 40rv, ad personam spiritus sancti, f. 40v, ad sanctam trinitatem, f. 40v-41v, ff. 41v-42v, f. 42v, Bonifatius papa quartus concessit … xl dies de indulgentia, ff. 42v-43, f. 43rv, [rubric mentioning Boniface sextus], ff. 43v-44;

ff. 44v-45, [rubric lacking], incipit, “Domine yhesu chrsite fili dauid quam grauiora et quam horrenda sunt …” [Ends top f. 45, remainder blank];

ff. 45v-49v, Gradual psalms (119-132), in groups of four, interspersed with prayers, ends mid f. 48v, remainder and f. 49rv, blank];

f. 50rv, Orationes ualde deuote de uirgine maria, incipit, “Aue mater domini, Aue regina caeli …”;

ff. 50v-51, Oratio de uirgine, incipit, “Sancta et perpetua uirgo maria domina et aduocatrix …”;

cf. New York, Columbia University X264.02/C28, ff. 128v-130.

ff. 51v-53v, Oratio de uirgine, incipit, “Sancta et immaculata uirgo mitis [sic] maria gloriosa mundi …”;

ff. 53v-54v, Sequentem orationem consueuit dicere beatus bernardus ante omnes suas orationes particularis et refertur ad beatam uirginem, incipit, “Loquor ad cor tuum o Maria …”;

Also in BAV, Reg. lat. 121, f. 265.

ff. 54v-56, Alia deuota oratio ad uirginem, incipit, “Ad sanctitatis tue pedes dulcissima uirgo Maria …”;

Leroquais, 1927-, 2:228.

f. 56rv, Alia oratio de maria uirgine, incipit, “O fidelis mediatrix et benigna consolatrix peccatorum Maria ..”;

f. 57rv, Alia oratio de uirgine facta a sancto Bernardo, incipit, “Memento dulcissima mater et domina illius memoranda stationis ...”

Also in Chicago, Newberry Library, MS 83:19.

ff. 57v, Innocentius papa quartus composuit hanc orationem in concilio lateranensi et concessit omnibus eam deuote legentibus centum uiginti dies indulgentiarum, incipit, “Deprecor te domina mea sanctissima Maria mater dei pietate plenisssima … Intercede pro me peccatore … et electis suis uitam et requiem. Amen”;

Leroquais, 1927-, 1:350 and 350; cf. 2:395; also in Chicago, Newberry Library, 56, ff. 172v-173,

ff. 58-61v, Sequentes quinque orationes pro quinque gratiis impetrandis, incipit, “Legitur quod beatus Iohannes euangelista multum desiderauit uidere beatam uirginem mariam et sibi loqui postquam …”; Prima oratio ad gratiis impetrandis de omnibus peccatis, incipit, “Mediatrix hominum corona misericordie indefinenter ….”; Secunda oratio ad impetrandum ueram contritionem ante mortem, incipit, “Auxiliatrix hominum et pacis eterne condimentum Maria …”; Tertia oratio ad impetrandum liberationem omnium periculorum anime et corporis, …”; Quarta oratio ad quinque gratiis impetrandis diuini amoris …”; Quinta oratio ad impetrandum gratiam et misericordiam a domino yhesu …”;

f. 61rv, Oratio ad uirginem matrem mariam, incipit, “Gaude dei genitrix uirgo inmaculata, Gaude que gaudium …”;

Chevalier, 1892-, no. 6757.

ff. 61v-62v, Alia oratio ad uirginem quam siquis quotidie deuote dixerint beatam uirginem ante obitum suum quam composuit beatus Augustinus, incipit, “Obsecro te … ut michi famulo tuo A …”;

Leroquais, 1927-, 2:346-7.

f. 68, Salutatio ad mariam uirginem, incipit, “Ave uirgo gratiosa stella sole clarior …”;

Chevalier, 1892-, no. 2213.

f. 70rv, Salutationes …, incipit, “Gaude flore uirginali quae honore speciali transcendens …”;

Wilmart, 1932, 329 n.1.

Continuing, f. 70v, and 70v-71;

f. 71rv, Siquis sequentes antyphonas dixerit in una die ccclxvi vicibus dominus liberabit eum, incipit, “O sapientia que ex ore altissimi procedisti …”;

ff. 72-73, Salutationes …, incipit, “Ave uirgo uirginum quae uerbo concepisti, Ave lactans filium uirgo premansisti …”;

Chevalier, 1892-, no. 2271.

Continuing, ff. 73-74, f. 74rv;

ff. 74v-77, Sertum betae marie uirginis ex quinquaginta rosulis compositum a mellifluo doctore beato Beranrdo careuallensis …, incipit, “Ave salue gaude uale o maria noneruale sed his rosis tibi tale plecto …”;

Mone, 1854, 2:268.

ff. 77v-78v, incipit, “Ave desiderii fons et flos dulcoris …”;

Chevalier, 1892-, no. 1769.

ff. 78v-79v, Salutationes …, incipit, “Ave nostra domina de humilitate, aue felix femina …”;

Chevalier, 1892-, no. 23707.

ff. 79v-80v, Oratio deuota ad mariam uirginem, incipit, “Ave uirgo uirginum que genuisti dominum triumpahntem …”;

ff. 80v-89v, Incipit officium beatissime et gloriossisime virginis marie compilatum per beatum Augustinum ualde aceptum domine nostre continens in se omnes petitiones uidelicet pro se parentibus pro amicis pro benefactoribus pro omnibus fidelibus tam uius quam defunctis. Ad matutinas, [Hymn], incipit, “Omni die dic marie mea laudes anima/ Eius bona semper sona semper illa perdica …”; Collecta, incipit, “Sancta maria uirgo uirginum sancta trinitatis sacrarium angelorum …”; [Continues with a hymn and collect for each hour, prime-vespers, ending imperfectly in the hymn for compline], Ad completorium, incipit, “Celi pora per quam orta salus est fidelium … nec scriptures nec figuris tuas laudes tacuit//”

Authorship of the Hymn for Matins was attributed to Saint Casimir in Chevalier, 1892-, 2:261, no. 14070. I t has since been proven that the hymn appears in manuscripts from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

This is best described as a prayer book – in other words, a collection of texts for private devotion, rather than a service book for the public, collective liturgy, made for the use of a man identified in the prayers as “A” (see above, Provenance). Collections of prayers such as this one are important sources for scholars interested in the history of late medieval spirituality.

The most common book for private devotion in the later Middle Ages and the Renaissance were Books of Hours – prayer books which included the Hours of the Virgin Mary, short Offices including Psalms and other prayers said in honor of the Virgin at the eight different canonical hours over the course of a day, as well as other texts including a calendar, additional Offices, biblical readings and prayers. Books of Hours, usually illuminated, were tremendously popular, and today more Books of Hours are available on the market than any other type of medieval manuscript. This book, which includes approximately 113 prayers, is an example of a much less common type of manuscript.

Medieval prayer books have also been studied much less thoroughly by modern scholars than Books of Hours. As a genre, prayer books were probably most common in Germany (and it is certainly not a coincidence that Books of Hours were never as popular in Germany as in the rest of Europe). This prayer book is of particular interest because it was copied in Italy in a beautiful humanistic minuscule, decorated only by elegant capital letters. When we think of the Italian Renaissance and the scholars associated with humanist manuscripts, we think first of their interest in the classical authors of ancient Rome, as well as new translations of Greek texts, or works modeled on ancient texts, such as civic orations and histories. This manuscript is a reminder that most of these same men were devout Catholics. Humanist scholars and philosophers such as Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) both wrote religious texts (see Edelheit, 2008). Alongside humanist scholars and collectors, fifteenth-century Italy was the home of monastic reformers and fiery, popular preachers such as Bernardino da Siena (1380-1444), Giovanni Capistorano (1386-1456), and Girolamo Savanorola (1452-1498). The juxtaposition found in this manuscript of humanistic script and decoration with its contents of very traditional prayers, is particularly interesting.

Many of the prayers here are among the most popular in the Middle Ages, and in common with most collections, some are attributed to famous authors, including Gregory the Great, Augustine, Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas Aquinas, and some include promises of indulgences and other benefits in return for faithful recitation. In addition to prayers, the manuscript includes the Gradual Psalms (ff. 45v-49v), and an Office of the Virgin, ascribed to Augustine and consisting of a single hymn and prayer for each of the canonical hours (ff. 80v-89v). Confident identification of medieval and Renaissance prayers is difficult; many have similar beginnings, or differ in only small details of wording. Moreover, there is no standard repertory for identification. Nonetheless, some of the lengthy prayers in this manuscript which have not been identified in other sources may be of special interest (for example, ff. 7-8v, ff. 8v-9, ff. 58v-61v, and the Office, ff. 80v-89v).


Achten, Gerard. Das christliche Gebetbuch im Mittelalter: Andachts und Stundebücher in Handschriften und Frühdrucke, Berlin, Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz, 1987.

Chevalier, U. Repertorium hymnologicum, Louvain, 1892-1912, Brussels, 1920-21.

Doyle, A.I. “A Prayer Attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas”, Dominican Studies 1 (1948), pp. 229-238.

Edelheit, Amos. Ficino, Pico and Savonarola : the Evolution of Humanist Theology 1461/2-1498, Leiden and Boston, Brill, 2008.

Leroquais, Victor. Les livres d'heures manuscrits de la Bibliothèque nationale ..., Paris Maçon, Protat frères, impr., 1927-1943.

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Online resources

Kent, W. “Indulgences”, in The Catholic Encyclopedia, New York, Robert Appleton Company,1910

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Thesaurus precum latinorum (Treasury of Latin ), with English Translation

In Principio, Incipit index of Latin texts