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les Enluminures

Breviary (Cistercian Use)

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Southern Germany (Bavaria?), c. 1318-1325

TM 347

286 folios on parchment, even and well prepared, modern foliation in pencil, upper, outer corner, recto (collation, i10 [-1, cancelled, with no loss of text] ii10 iii-v8 vi-xi10 xii-xvii8 xviii-xxiv10 xxv8 xxvi10 xxvii8 xxxviii-xxx10 xxxi10 [-10, cancelled with no loss of text]), complete, most quires signed at the beginning and the end, middle lower, margin, with a roman numeral (some trimmed), no catchwords of leaf signatures, ruled in ink with full-length single vertical bounding lines, top and bottom lines full across, prickings remain on a few leaves in the outer margin, for example, ff. 78-79 and 235 (justification 160-153 x 113-100 mm.), written below the top line by at least three scribes in a gothic bookhand on twenty-six to twenty-nine long lines, ff. 268-273v, and ff. 273v-284, copied by two hands not found in the main body of the manuscript, red rubrics, one-line red initials within the text, two-line initials at the beginning of sections, with some initials extending in the margin up to seven- to eight-lines, all red for most of the manuscript, but red alternating with a faded yellow or orange until f. 35v (end of quire four); in excellent condition apart from some soiling throughout and yellowing of the parchment at the end of the manuscript; f. 1, torn, with no loss of text. Bound in heavy beveled wooden boards covered with brown blind-stamped leather, probably in the sixteenth century; for similar stamps, cf. Ilse Schunke, Die Schwenke-Sammlung gotischer Stempel- und Einbanddurchreibungen, Berlin, 1979, vol. 1, Blattwerk, no. 475, Würzburg Schrift R K 135, and Blühte Vierblatt, no. 35, Bamberg Dominikaner K4; spine with three raised bands, and head and tail bands; repaired at an early date, possibly reusing the stamped leather from an earlier binding; front and back pastedowns are from a fifteenth-century (?) noted Gradual from Germany, with hufnagel notation; top of the spine is cracked, and the outer corners of the lower board are damaged, covers worn; housed in a modern clamshell box. Dimensions 197 x 145 mm.

This complete fourteenth-century Breviary signed by its scribe comes from a German Cistercian monastery and survives in an early, near-contemporary binding. The text documents a stage in the Cistercian liturgy quite removed from the austerity of their earliest liturgy, but still bearing signs of the Order’s insistence on simplicity and distrust of an overly complicated liturgical calendar. Although Cistercian Breviaries are not rare, most are preserved in institutional libraries. In excellent condition, this manuscript represents an opportunity to study the Order’s liturgy at an interesting point in its history.


1. The Cistercian origin of the manuscript is evident from the many Cistercian saints in the calendar and in the Sanctorale (William of Bourges, 10 January, Robert of Molesme, 29 April, Peter of Tarentaise, 8 May, Bernard, 20 August, and Edmund Rich, 16 November). The evidence of the calendar suggests a date between 1318 and 1325: note the presence of a number of feasts mandated by Cistercian legislation in 1300, including Gregory, 12 March, two masses; Ambrose, 4 April, twelve lessons, two masses; Augustine, 28 August, two masses; and Jerome, 30 September, twelve lessons, two masses; Wenceslas, 28 September, observed with one mass, and commemoration in 1302, is here observed, commemoration; added are Hugh of Cluny, 29 April, 1321, and Thomas Aquinas, 7 March, 1324. In the Temporale, the Feast of Corpus Christi, observed by the Cistercians from 1318 is included, but added out of order at the end.

The feasts included in the Sanctorale include Bernard (which was added in another, albeit contemporary hand, in the calendar, surely correcting a major oversight), and are also clearly Cistercian, but possibly reflect a slightly earlier exemplar since the saints mentioned above mandated in 1300 are not included.

Both the calendar and the text of the Breviary follow Cistercian Use, and thus mostly reflect the liturgical feasts celebrated throughout the Order. The Saints in the Sanctorale may possibly indicate an origin in Southern Germany: note that Dorothy, not included in the calendar, is included in the Sanctorale with 12 lessons (widely venerated; relics at Salzburg); Achatius, one of the fourteen holy helpers, is added in the calendar, but included with twelve lessons in the text; the Cistercian house of Langheim, diocese of Bamberg, founded a Church in his honor in the fourteenth century. Added to the calendar is Coloman, 13 October, who was especially venerated at Melk in Austria.

2. On f. 9, the scribe added an intriguing variant of the common colophon, “Detur pro penna scriptori pulchra puella (Grant the writer a pretty girl for the sake of his pen),” stating “Detur pro penna scriptori bona gugulla”; the word “gugulla” is exceedingly rare, and although a previous cataloguer has suggested it is a variant of “cuculla” or cowl, a suitably monastic wish, many of the known variations on the verse start with “pulchra puella” and continue in decidedly less pious directions (see Lucien Reynhout, Formules latines de colophons, Bibliologia 25, Turnhout, Belgium, Brepols, 2006, 1:115-125, the variation in this manuscript with “gugulla” not recorded).

3. On f. 253, top margin, note in a fifteenth-century hand, “Ich Michel zu de[m] helig[e]n herre[n] sand laure[n]ten …; f. 1, notes in a later medieval hand, Sancti …, followed by notes on the liturgy, so it is not clear this was an ownership note.

4. Modern pencil note, f. 1, mostly erased and illegible; inside front cover, “ARI/56” in pencil.


ff. 1v-7, [f. 1, blank], Calendar in red and black, graded for one or two masses, twelve lessons, and commemoration, including William of Bourges, 10 January, in red, twelve lessons and two masses; Vincent, 21 January, in red, twelve lessons; Thomas Aquinas, 7 March, twelve lessons, one mass; Benedict, 21 March, in red, two masses; Robert of Molesmes, 29 April, in red, twelve lessons; Peter Martyr, O.P., 30 April, one mass; Peter of Tarentaise, 8 May, two masses; Mamertus, 11 May; Achatius, added on 22 June, twelve lessons; Visitation, added on 2 July, Translation of Benedict, added on 11 July, twelve lessons, one mass; Invention of Stephen, added on 3 August, in red, twelve lessons, two masses; Dominic, 5 August, two masses; Bernard, added in a contemporary hand, 20 August, in red, twelve lessons, two masses; Evurtius, bishop of Orleans; 7 September; Nativity of Mary, added on 8 September, in red; 12 September, “Hic dicenda est missa de spiritu sancto”; Wenceslas, 28 September; Francis, 4 October; Mark I, Pope, 7 March; Coloman, added on 13 October; 11,000 Virgins, 21 October, in red, twelve lessons, two masses; Edmund, 16 November, in red, two masses; Catharine, 25 November, 25 November, in red, twelve lessons, two masses; Conception of the Virgin, added 8 December; two added notes, above the entry for Pope Mark on 7 March: “Exaudi domine preces nostras et interveniente beato Marco …”; and on 28 November, a similar note mentioning Saturinus.

ff. 7v-9v, rubric, Incipiunt commemoraciones sanctorum qui habent commemoraciones tantum de vno martire et pontifice, incipit, “Da quesumus omnipotens deus ut qui beati N. …; rubric, Commemoracio unius albatis [sic], incipit, “Intercessio nos quesumus beati N. Abbatis …; Incipiunt commemorations sanctorum qui habent missam et non habent xii lecciones …;

Commemorations for various feasts, ending, f. 9v, with scribal note, incipit “Detur pro penna scriptori bona gugulla,” and prayers, incipit, “Benedictiones pepetua …” and “Benedicat nos pater eternus …”;

ff. 10-144v, Temporale, from the first Saturday in Advent to the twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost, concluding with the Office for Corpus Christi, ff. 140v-144v;

ff. 145-238v, Sanctorale from Stephen through Nicholas, including offices for William of Bourges, Agatha, Dorothy, Benedict, Mark, Robert of Molesme, Achatius, translation of Benedict, Lawrence, Bernard, Evurtius, 11,000 Virgins, and Edmund Rich.

ff. 238v-267v, Common of Saints, ending with the Office for the Crown of Thorns, followed by the Dedication of a Church; in some cases Saints are specified: f. 248v, Fabianus, Sebastian, Maurice, and Denis; f. 252v, Gregory, Augustine, Martin and Silvester; f. 253, Ambrose, Remigius and Nicholas; f. 258, Cecilia, Agatha, and Margaret; and f. 259v, Mary Magdalene, Agnes, Lucy, and Katherine; followed by prayers, Ad vesperas, incipit, Deus creator omnium polique …; and in a later hand, incipit, “O stella lucide margaretha …”;

ff. 268-280, Hymns, not noted, beginning with Advent, imperfectly, incipit, “//omnia. Quem terra ponthus terra …,” and continuing with Christmas, Epiphany, Passion Sunday, Palm Sunday, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Stephen, John the Evangelist, Agnes, All Saints dedicated to the Virgin, Agatha, Holy Cross, John, John the Baptist, Peter and Paul, Mary Magdalene, Lawrence, Bernard, the Archangel Michael, Martin, Andrew, Apostles and martyrs, one martyr, confessors, Katherine, virgins and concluding with the Dedication of a Church.

The Hymns and Canticles, following, are copied in two hands not found in the remainder of the manuscript, although they appear to be contemporary. The first hymn for Advent begins imperfectly, although there is no physical evidence of a missing leaf, suggesting that this section may have had an origin independent of the remainder of the Breviary.

ff. 280-283v, Monastic Canticles for Sundays (see James Mearns, The Canticles of the Christian Church, Eastern and Western, in Early and Medieval Times, Cambridge, 1914, p. 87, first set), Christmas (Mearns, p. 87, first set), Easter (Mearns, p. 88, first set), Commons of Saints (Mearns p. 91, set 9, and p. 92, second set), concluding with cues for canticles for the Invention and Exaltation of the Cross, the Dedication of a Church, and the Feast of the Purification.

ff. 284v-285, and f. 286, added in a slightly later hand, liturgical rubrics beginning, Nota ordinem privatis diebus corpore christi …; f. 285v, hymns, not noted, in another hand, Ad nocturnas, incipit, “Eterne rex conditor noctem …”; and “Splendor paterne glorie ….”

The prayers of the Divine Office were the heart of the monastic day, beginning with matins, said during the night, and continuing through the day, beginning at dawn with lauds, continuing with prime, terce, sext, none, and vespers, and concluding with compline. The prayers and readings for the Office are included in a Breviary. This is a monastic Breviary, which includes twelve lessons at Matins for major feasts.

The details of its text are evidence of a stage in the liturgy of the Cistercians quite removed from the austerity of their earliest liturgy, but still bearing signs of the Orders’ insistence on simplicity and distrust of an overly complicated liturgical calendar. There were only twenty “feasts of two masses,” in 1173, and forty-one by 1300, the time period reflected in this Breviary. It includes the prayers necessary for the entire year, and omits the Psalter, citing the Psalms by cue only. The number of proper feasts noted in the Sanctorale and in the calendar are still fewer than found in contemporary Breviaries from other monastic Orders, and the absence of texts common in other monastic breviaries, such as the Office of the Dead and Offices in honor of the Virgin, may also reflect the Cistercian preference for simplicity.

This manuscript bears a great many traces of original use, suggesting that it was manipulated through perhaps a couple centuries of active use: changes to its calendar, notes and additions to its text, and the restoration of its early binding. It is frustrating that it cannot yet be localized with more precision, but more research on its text and binding might prove fruitful.


Battifol, P. History of the Roman Breviary, London and New York, 1898.

Harper, John. The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy from the Tenth to the Eighteenth Century, Oxford, 1991.

King, Archdale. Liturgies of the Religious Orders, Milwaukee, Bruce, 1955.

Lekai, Louis J. The Cistercians: Ideals and Reality, Kent, Ohio, Kent State University Press, 1977.

Plummer, John. Liturgical Manuscripts for the Mass and Divine Office, New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, 1964.

Salmon, Pierre. The Breviary through the Centuries, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1962.

Schneider, Ambrosius, ed. Die Cistercienser: Geschichte, Geist, Kunst, Cologne, Wienand, 1986.

Online resources

Gildas, M. (1908), “Cistercians,” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved March 17, 2009 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03780c.htm

The History of the Breviary:
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02768b.htm (Catholic Encyclopedia, “Breviary”)

Introduction to liturgical manuscripts:
“Celebrating the Liturgy’s Books”:

“Order of St. Benedict: The Cistercians” (links to short history and other resources)

“The Roman Breviary” (text of modern Roman Breviary in Latin and English, with historical introduction):

Obrecht, E. (1910), “Langheim,” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved March 26, 2009 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08788c.htm