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les Enluminures

Breviary (Use of the Carthusians)

In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
Northern Italy, Lombardy (Milan?), c. 1430-1450

TM 815

ii (modern paper) + 341 + ii (modern paper) folios on parchment, contemporary foliation in red ink, top outer recto, in Roman numerals, i-ccliiij, on ff. 83-336, modern foliation in pencil, lower outer recto, 1-341, complete but for the loss of approximately nine leaves in section II, including the opening leaf (collation I. ff. 1-11v, i4 [-2, ragged stub remains following f. 1, cancelled with no loss of text] ii10 [-7 -8, two ragged stubs following f. 9, cancelled with no loss of text]; II. ff. 12-82v, iii10 [-1, with loss of text] iv10 [-5 -7 -8?, structure uncertain, one leaf apparently excised following f. 24, and two apparently excised following f. 25, all with loss of text] v-vi10 vii10 [-1 -5 -7 -10, outer bifolium removed (leaves between ff. 47 and 48 and ff. 53 and 54) and single leaves excised following f. 50 and following f. 51, all with loss of text] viii10 ix10 [-7 following f. 69, with loss of text] x10; III. ff. 83-341v, xi-xvii10 xviii10 [+smaller slip tipped in between ff. 161 and 162] xix-xxxv10 xxxvi6 xxxvii4 [-1?; structure uncertain]), horizontal catchwords, decorated with single dots above and below and to either side, in center lower margin of quires iii-vi, viii-ix, xi-xxxv, ruled faintly in lead with full-length vertical bounding lines (justification 97 x 66 mm.), written in dark brown ink in a small, very fine Gothic rotunda script in two columns of thirty-one lines (with long lines of thirty-one to thirty-two lines in the calendar, ff. 4-9v), rubrics in red, capitals touched in yellow (ff. 4-9v, 163-186, 331v-336v), guide letters visible for some initials, one-line versal initials in red or blue, two- to four-line initials in red with purple pen decoration (or brown pen decoration, ff. 331v-336) or blue with red pen decoration sometimes extending vertically as one-sided borders (sometimes with decoration in both red and purple), FOURTEEN HISTORIATED INITIALS six- to seven-line, mostly in green and mauve, decorated with fine white decoration and shading, with blue backgrounds, decorated in gold, and on burnished gold grounds with blue, green, red, and mauve foliate decoration extending into the border and burnished gold bezants (ff. 19v, 22, 28, 30v, 32, 33v, 36v, 40v, 42v, 46v, 50, 53v, 64, and 74v), part III: one-line paraphs in red and blue, cadels with refined penwork, some including the profiles of human faces with lines extending from their mouths, often terminating in crosses, fifteen four- to six-line initials in red with purple pen decoration or blue with red pen decoration, many extending vertically as one-sided borders, marking major textual divisions (ff. 83, 89v, 95v, 97v, 100, 179, 190v, 214, 217, 218, 219, 220, 223v, and two on 224), careful insertions in the scribe’s hand throughout, with a particularly large insertion on the recto of a tipped in slip of parchment between ff. 161 and 162, keyed to the text on f. 161v by a pointing hand, some worming visible, ff. 1-29, slight rubbing or flaking of ink (notably on ff. 27v and 252) and of initial on f. 64, a tear on f. 63, repaired with clear tape, some trimming evident along the upper margin, otherwise in excellent condition with wide, clean margins.  Bound in nineteenth-century crimson velvet over boards, smooth curved spine, some wear to the velvet along the edges and spine, with cracking evident along the upper hinge, all edges gilt, marbled paper pastedowns, with label, inscribed “77,” pasted on front pastedown and round stamp, “BIBLIOTHÈQUE PAUL NAUDON,” on the verso of the first flyleaf, along with a penciled inscription, “Psalter in [...?] 27 Juillet 1957,” description of the manuscript written in pencil on the recto of the second flyleaf, “No. 1” written in cursive in pale brown ink on f. 3v.  Dimensions 150 x 108 mm.

This elegant, illuminated Carthusian Breviary comes from the library of the important Charterhouse of Valmanera, or Asti, in Northern Italy.  The cycle of saints’ portraits may have been executed in the workshop of the Master of the Vitae Imperatorum, one of the most important illuminators in Northern Italy in the first half of the fifteenth century.  The richness of this volume, surviving in fine condition, stands in marked contrast to its use, and possible origin, in an austere Charterhouse: for a Carthusian monk, living in strict solitude, a book like this one was his only companion.


1.The style of decoration within this manuscript dates to the second quarter of the fifteenth century, c. 1430-1450, and indicates that the volume was most likely produced, and was certainly illuminated, in Lombardy, perhaps in Milan (see Illustration, below).  This dating is corroborated by the contents of the calendar, which includes observances instituted in the Order as late as 1420.  A date before 1462, when the feast of Catherine of Siena (May 6), was added to the Carthusian liturgy, is likely (this important feast is not included in the calendar); certainly copied before 1470 when the feast of the Sanctification of the Blessed Virgin, celebrated on 8 December, was renamed the feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin.

This manuscript was definitely made for Carthusian use.  The specification “candele” in the calendar refers to the Carthusian practice of lighting two candles for Mass, Lauds, and Vespers for particularly important feast days.  The prominence in the calendar, litany, and Sanctorale of Saint Hugh of Grenoble, who aided Saint Bruno in founding the Carthusian Order, and of the Carthusian Saint Hugh of Lincoln also point to Carthusian use, as do the responsories in the Office of the Dead and, of course, the inclusion of Carthusian constitutions regarding liturgy.  One of the historiated initials included within the volume features a Carthusian saint, most probably Hugh of Lincoln (f. 50).

The book belonged very early to the Charterhouse of Asti (also known as the Charterhouse of Valmanera), a Carthusian house in Asti, in Northwestern Italy, as indicated by an inscription in the lower margin of f. 4: “ccxliij. B. Monasterij cartusie Ast.” Founded in the first half of the twelfth century as a Vallombrosan monastery, the house passed to the Carthusian Order in the late fourteenth century, when important families in Asti called for the Carthusians to replace what had become a decadent community.  This change was supported by the popes in both Avignon (in a papal bull of 1387) and Rome, and the new Carthusian foundation, dedicated to Saints James and Philip, was endowed with extensive properties.  The only known catalogue of its library, now Vatican, Vatican Library, Cod. Vat. lat. 11276, lists 354 works, including works in print.  The house was suppressed in 1801 when it was confiscated by the Napoleonic government, and many of its treasures were transferred or lost.  By their own request, the monks were able to retain some of the library’s contents as personal possessions, but most of them appear to have been appropriated for the foundation of a public library (see Chiarle, 2011, pp. 253-254).

The book may also have been copied by a member of this house.  The hand in which this inscription was written may belong to the scribe who copied the manuscript.  The Carthusian Order placed a special emphasis on scribal work as an appropriate form of manual labor and as a standard practice for monks and nuns in the solitude of their own cells. Carthusian statutes offer a justification for this labor: “ut quia ore non possumus dei verbum manibus predicemus” (so that because we are not able to preach the word of God with our mouths, we may do so with our hands).  This manuscript could well have been produced by a Carthusian scribe under such circumstances.  The scribe shows an investment in the book’s accuracy and utility, having taken care to correct and expand the text and, in section III, cross-reference other folios in the manuscript.  Carthusian statutes stressed the importance of establishing correct texts – chiefly the responsibility of the Grande Chartreuse – and of emending texts against these correct exemplars (Rouse and Rouse, 1991).

2. Belonged to Paul Naudon (1915-2001), historian of freemasonry; his stamp, BIBLIOTHÈQUE PAUL NAUDON” on the verso of the first flyleaf.


I. ff. 1-11v:

ff. 1-3v, blank but ruled

ff. 4-9v, Calendar with entries including vigil of Matthew the Apostle (23 February, commemoration; commemoration instituted in 1420); Thomas Aquinas (7 March; feast instituted in 1406); Hugh of Grenoble (1 April, chapter feast); the Visitation (2 July, with candles; instituted for the whole Order in 1411); Anna (26 July, mass; mass instituted for the whole Order in 1412); Bernard (20 August, chapter feast; chapter feast instituted in 1361); Decollation of John the Baptist (29 August, chapter feast; chapter feast instituted in 1400); feast of the Holy Relics (8 November; with candles); Hugh, bishop of Lincoln (17 November; with candles); Barbara (4 December; feast instituted in 1397); ff. 10-11v, blank but ruled.

II. ff. 12-82v:

ff. 12-64, Gallican Psalter, beginning imperfectly, “// malignus neque permanebunt iniusti ante oculos tuos ...”; f. 12, [Psalm 6] Psalmus dauid, incipit, “Domine ne in furore tuo arguas me ... [f. 64, Psalm 150] ... omnis spiritus laudet dominum”;

This Psalter begins imperfectly in the middle of Psalm 5 and continues in biblical order through Psalm 150 with major divisions at Psalms 26 (f. 19v), 32 (f. 22; Feria secunda), 52 (f. 28), 59 (f. 30v; Feria iiij), 65 (f. 32), 68 (f. 33v), 73 (f. 36v; Feria quinta), 79 (f. 40v), 85 (f. 42v), 95 (f. 46v; Feria vj), 105 (f. 50), and 118 (f. 53v; Ad primam de dominica).   With the exception of the designation of Psalm 95, rather than Psalm 85, as the first Psalm for Friday Matins, the designations of the ferial Psalms follows monastic usage.  Due to losses of leaves within the manuscript, the text of all of Psalms 37, 41-45, 100-101, and 109-110 and parts of Psalms 36, 38, 40, 99, 102, 105, 106, 108, 111, and 118 is now lacking.  Antiphons are included preceding Psalms 32, 34, and 35, but not elsewhere.

ff. 64-74v, Canticles, incipit, “COnfitebor tibi domine quoniam iratus es mihi ... et donec ponat ierusalem laudem in terra”;

The Gallican Canticles (nos. 1-6, 11, 7-10, 13-15 in Mearns, 1914, pp. 65-66) for Lauds, followed by the Monastic Canticles for Matins for Sundays in Advent (f. 70), Christmas (f. 70v), Sundays in Lent (f. 71v), Easter (f. 72v), feasts of apostles and martyrs (f. 73), the feast of one martyr or confessor (f. 73v), and feasts of virgins (f. 74) (Mearns, 1914, pp. 87-92).

ff. 74v-81, Hymns, incipit, “COnditor alme syderum eterna lux credentium ... qui es defensor anime adesto nobis domine. Deo patri sit gloria eiusque soli filio etc.”;

Hymns, not noted, for Advent, Christmas, Lent, Passion Sunday, Easter, Ascension Sunday, Pentecost, the feast of Corpus Christi, Marian feasts, John the Baptist, the Exaltation of the Cross, and for the daily office.

ff. 81-82v, Litany, including Saint Hugo.

III. ff. 83-341v

ff. 83-89v, Incipiunt capitula per circulum anni. Sabbato in aduentu ad vesperas et in dominica ad laudes tertiam et uesperas capitulum, incipit, “ECce dies ueniunt dicit dominus et suscitabo dauid germen iustum ... ne derelinquas nos domine deus noster”;

Capitula, or short readings, for the hours of the Divine Office for the whole liturgical year – with feasts of the Temporale and Sanctorale together, beginning with Advent and ending with the feast of Saint Andrew – and for common feasts.

ff. 89v-110, Incipiunt orationes per circulum anni Sabbato in aduentu domini ad vesperas laudes tertiam et vesperas oratio, incipit, “EXcita quesumus domine potentiam tuam et ueni ... pietatis tue remedia maiora percipiant. Per dominum n.”; f. 100, Incipit officium sanctorum per circulum anni. In festo sancti Andree apostoli ad uesperas oratio ..., incipit, “MAiestatem tuam domine suppliciter exoramus ... eius nos tribue meritis adiuuari. Per”; f. 108, In dedicatione ecclesie oratio, incipit, “DEus qui nobis per singulos annos ... tua fiat habitatione sublimis. Per”; f. 108, In festis apostolorum ..., incipit, “[Q]uesumus omnipotens deus ut beatus N apostolus tuum [sic] pro nobis imploret auxilium ... per intercessionem omnium sanctorum tuorum toto corde tibi esse deuotos. Per dominum”;

Collects for the Temporale, Sanctorale (including the feast of Hugh of Lincoln on f. 107v), the dedication of a church, and common feasts.  Six-line initials mark the collects for Palm Sunday (f. 95v) and Ascension Sunday (f. 97v).

ff. 110-178, Incipiunt antiphone et responsoria per anni circulum. Et notandum quod rubricas in locis propriis non reperies quia statuta quantum pertinet ad diuinum officium reperies in fine libri. Sabbato in aduentu domini in primis vesperis. Antiphona, incipit, “REgnum tuum ...”; f. 156, Incipit proprium sanctorum. In conuersione sancti pauli ad vesperas. Responsorium, incipit, “In omnem terram ...”; f. 170v, Incipit commune sanctorum. In natale apostolorum ad vesperas. Responsorium, incipit, “In omnem terram exiuit sonus eorum ... messui mirram meam cum aromatibus meis. Psalmus. M[...?]”;

Antiphons, responsories, and other chants for Matins, Lauds, and Vespers for the Temporale, Sanctorale, and common feasts.  There are a number of references to text contained elsewhere within the manuscript that rely on the contemporary foliation of the third section of the volume and refer to it using Arabic numerals.

f. 178r-v, Lectiones in estate. Feria secunda, incipit, “COnsurge lauda in nocte ... et misertus est penitentibus. Tu autem”;

Lections for Matins for the summer ferias, Monday through Saturday, for which there was only one reading at Matins.

ff. 178v-179, Benedictiones, incipit, “SUscipe domine ihesu christe deprecationem seruprum tuorum ... Sectatores sanct euangelij faciat nos misericordia christi amen”;

ff. 179-275v, Dominica prima aduentus domini. Incipit ysaias propheta. Lectio prima, incipit, “UIsio ysaie filij amos quam uidit super iudam ... et tenorabit edes eius”; f. 224, Dominica prima in aduentu domini lectio sancti euangelij secundum lucam, incipit, “IN illo tempore. Dixit ihesus discipulis suis Erunt signa in sole ... sic in turbulenta populi administratione uersari”;

Lections for Matins for the Temporale, divided into sections: the first contains readings from the Old Testament, Epistles, and Book of the Apocalypse and the second (beginning on f. 224) contains readings from the Gospels and patristic sermons and homilies.  Both sections are arranged according to the feasts of the liturgical year, from the first Sunday of Advent to the twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost.  Within the first section, a six-line initial marks the beginnings of readings from Genesis for Septuagesima Sunday (f. 190v), and four- or five-line initials mark the beginnings of readings from Proverbs (f. 214), Tobit (f. 217), 1 Maccabees (f. 218), 2 Maccabees (f. 218), Ezekiel (f. 220), Joel (f. 223v), and Amos (f. 224).

ff. 275v-326, Incipit homiliare sanctorum. In sancto andrea. Sermo beati augustini episcopi. Lectio prima, incipit, “MIrum quibusdam uidetur karissimi ... Sciebat enim uberem hospicij fui esse mercedem”;

Lections for Matins for the Sanctorale, containing readings from the Gospels and patristic sermons and homilies for the saints’ feasts of the liturgical year, beginning with the feast of Saint Andrew and ending with readings for the dedication of a church.  These include lections for the feasts of Hugh of Grenoble (f. 296) and Hugh of Lincoln (f. 324v).  There are a number of references to text contained elsewhere within the manuscript that rely on the contemporary foliation of the third section of the volume and refer to it using Arabic or Roman numerals.

ff. 326-328v, Office of the Dead (for Carthusian use), preceded by prayers for many dead, one or more lay people, brothers of the order, benefactors, a priest, an anniversary, parents, and a woman; the Office includes the following nine responses: “Credo quod redemptor ...”; “Induta est caro ...”; “Memento mei deus ...”; “Paucitas dierum meorum ...”; “Ne abscondas me domine ...”; “Homo cum dormierit ...”; “Nocte os meum ...”; “Versa est in luctum ...”; and “Ne intres in iudicium ...”;

ff. 329-336v, Incipiunt constitutiones diuini officij secundum ordinem cartusiensem, incipit, “DOminica que festo sancti Andree magis propinqua est ... sed beata martir imploret etc”; ff. 337-341v, blank but ruled.

Instructions for the observance of liturgical feasts specific to the Carthusians.


Historiated initials:

f. 19v, King David, crowned and bearded, shown half-length in a red robe with a blue and green mantle, holding a pale orb and golden scepter (Psalm 26: “Dominus illuminatio mea ...”);

f. 22, King David, crowned and bearded, shown half-length in a red robe, playing a harp (Psalm 32: “Exultate iusti in domino ...”; Feria secunda);

f. 28, young man, crowned, shown half-length in a red garment holding a golden rod (Psalm 52: “Dixit insipiens in corde suo ...”);

f. 30v, Saint Jerome as a penitent, shown half-length baring his chest under a brown robe and holding a stone in one hand (Psalm 59: “Deus repulisti nos ...”; Feria iiij);

f. 32, young man with a halo (possibly Saint George?), shown half-length in a red garment, holding a sword and a lance (Psalm 65: “Iubilate deo omnis terra ...”);

f. 33v, King David (?), bearded and wearing a hat, shown half-length in a red robe with his arms crossed over his chest (Psalm 68: “Saluum me fac deus ...”);

f. 36v, Saint John the Baptist, shown half-length and in partial profile in an animal skin, point toward a scroll (Psalm 73: “Ut quid deus repulisti in finem ...”; Feria quinta);

f. 40v, balding, grey-bearded man with a halo, shown half-length in a green robe with a red mantle, his hands clasped in prayer (Psalm 79: “Qui regis ysrael intende ...”);

f. 42v, tonsured Franciscan monk with a halo (Saint Francis or Saint Anthony of Padua?), shown half-length in a brown habit, holding a golden book and a golden cross (Psalm 85: “Incline domine aurem tuam ...”);

f. 46v, Saint Nicholas, shown half-length in profile wearing a mitre and a red cope decorated with gold over a white robe, holding three golden balls and a golden crosier (Psalm 95: “Cantate domino canticum nouum ...”; Feria vj);

f. 50, Saint Hugh of Lincoln (?), shown half-length with a bishop’s mitre and a red cope over a white scapular and robe, arms raised, with one hand open and a crosier the other (Psalm 105: “Confitemini domino ...”);

f. 53v, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, shown half-length in white habit, holding a red book and a golden crosier (Psalm 118: “Beati immaculati in uia ...”; Ad primam de dominica);

f. 64, balding, grey-bearded man with halo (St. Paul?), shown half-length in a dark red robe with a red mantle, holding a red book in one hand and a sword in the other (opening of the canticles);

f. 74v, Saint Ambrose, shown half-length with a bishop’s mitre and a red chasuble decorated with gold, holding a scourge in one hand and an open book and golden crosier in the other (opening of the hymns).

All but three of these fourteen initials were painted in green or mauve, decorated with delicate white highlighting and dark shading, with blue backgrounds decorated in liquid gold in swirling patterns or radiating lines and on burnished gold grounds outlined in black.  The first initial (f. 19v) follows the same pattern but with the initial apparently painted in blue (somewhat obscured now by oxidation?) with a black ground decorated with radiating lines painted in liquid gold.  In the other two cases (ff. 32 and 42v), both the initial ‘I’, the initial itself has been executed in burnished gold on a blue ground decorated with radiating lines painted in liquid gold.  All of these initials are adorned with gently curving acanthus extensions of blue, green, red, and mauve, highlighted and shaded with delicate pen decoration.  Burnished gold bezants appear in the margins alongside these foliate extensions.

With the exception of Saint Nicholas, shown in strict profile, and Saint John the Baptist, shown with his face in profile, these historiated initials present bust-portraits whose subjects face mostly forward, but always slightly toward the text. Their features are similarly delineated with slight dark strokes setting off their brows, eyes, lips, and noses.  The haloes of the saints have been executed in burnished gold, outlined in black.  Much care has been lavished on highlighting the drapery and folds of the figures’ clothing.

Aside from the three initials depicting King David, hardly surprising given that nearly all of these initials fall within the volume’s Psalter, this cycle of historiated initials is notable in its subject matter, focused as it is on important monastic saints and doctors of the Church.  Historiated initials with bust-portraits of saints or teachers are typical in Lombard and Milanese book illumination of the fifteenth century.  The portraits of kings, teachers, and prophets in the cuttings of London, British Library, Add. MS 18196, ff. 71-77, executed in the circle of the Master of the Arcimboldi Missal, produced at the end of the fifteenth century, bear witness to the longevity of a number of patterns that are rooted deeply in Milanese illumination of the fifteenth century.

The style of the initials on square burnished golden grounds, with their extending and curling acanthus leaves, resembles that in a Book of Hours produced c. 1430-1440, Les Enluminures, BOH 101, and a Breviary produced c. 1430, Baltimore, Walters Art Museum MS W. 332 (Online Resources), both of which contain similar portraits, almost certainly produced around the same time as those in the present manuscript.  The Hours of the Virgin of the former and the Sanctorale of the latter include similar programs of illuminated initials with saints’ half-length portraits.  The form of the initials, the blue backgrounds with delicate radiating lines drawn in liquid gold (see in particular ff. 37v, 210v, 222v, and 396 in the Baltimore Breviary), and the foliate extensions are similar enough that it is possible that the same workshop executed the secondary decoration in all of these manuscripts.  The figures themselves, though similar in their haloes, crosiers, and draperies, differ somewhat from those in the other manuscripts, with softer faces (more akin to those of the Baltimore Breviary than the Book of Hours, but with proportionally smaller heads and darker modeling).

The illumination in the Baltimore Breviary has been attributed to the Master of the Vitae Imperatorum, and that of the Book of Hours to his workshop (on this illuminator, see Alexander, 2002, Melograni, 1990 and 1996; Palladino, 2003). Active from 1430 to 1453 in Milan, the Master of the Vitae Imperatorum counts among the most significant Lombard artists of his time. He is named after a copy of Suetonius, now Paris, BnF, MS it. 131, dated December 1431.  The master was trained by Tomasino de Vimercate and worked for Filippo Maria Visconti, duke of Milan, and his court.  Among his known masterpieces are the Bible of Mary of Savoy, Chambéry, Bibliothèque municipale (in collaboration with Belbello da Pavia) and the illustrations of Dante’s Inferno for Filippo Visconti, now Paris, BnF, MS it. 2017.

The opulence of this Breviary stands in marked contrast to the austere conditions in which it must have been used.  Furthermore, the arrangement of its contents is highly uncommon.  Breviaries contain the complete text of the Divine Office, encompassing a program of readings, prayers, hymns, canticles, and Psalms arranged according to the canonical hours of the Divine Office (Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline).  This is a monastic Breviary, which includes twelve lessons at Matins for major feasts.  Unlike many monastic Breviaries, which include the texts for only part of the year, this manuscript includes the entire year in one rather lengthy, but not very large volume.  Even more strange is this book’s organization: though it contains the texts that would have been read or chanted in the Divine Office, it does not present them, as most do, in anything approximating the order in which they would have been read, organized chiefly according to the hours of the Office.  Instead, the separate presentation of capitula, collects, antiphons and responses, and longer readings would have necessitated constant navigation of this substantial volume.

A careful system of internal references, using the folio numbers that are original to the manuscript, would have facilitated the use of this lengthy Breviary and aided a reader in navigating this Breviary’s segmented organization.  Still, this book’s arrangement calls into question whether it would have been used on a daily basis by a monk participating in the Office.  It is possible, instead, that this fine and notably well-preserved volume was intended chiefly to preserve the correct text of the Carthusian Office, to be consulted as an exemplar for the copying and correction of more workaday Breviaries (recalling the importance of correct texts to the Carthusians).  In this light, it is worth noting that this Breviary’s odd arrangement was not unheard of in Carthusian Breviaries.  Grenoble, Bibliothèque muncipale, MSS 73 and 74, datable to the fourteenth- and a fifteenth-centuries, respectively, contain a similarly extensive range of contents organized quite similarly (see Leroquais, 1934, II, pp.115-117) and may have been put to a similar use.

The Carthusian Order, founded by St. Bruno of Cologne around 1084 and celebrated for the purity and austerity of its version of the religious life, is characterized by a unique combination of the eremetical and cenobitic life.  Each Carthusian monk spends most of his life living as a hermit in his own cell, but at the same time lives under the rule and discipline of a community and participates in the communal liturgy of the monastery. The success of the Carthusians at creating a balanced life and maintaining this life through their statutes and the guidance of the Prior of the Grande Chartreuse and the Order’s General Chapter allows the Order to make the famous claim, “numquam reformata, quia numquam deformata” (never reformed because never deformed).

Carthusians embrace the strictest separation from the world, characterized by total dedication to contemplation through silence, prayer, penance, and almost continuous occupancy of a solitary cell.  According to the Carthusian rite, the only offices sung collectively were Matins (and sometimes Lauds) and Vespers. The remaining Hours were recited (or sung?) in the privacy and solitude of each monk’s cell.  Thus, the liturgical day of a Carthusian monk in the Middle Ages centered around the recitation of the Divine Office in his cell in between periods of work, study, and personal prayer, and attendance of the long night office of Matins and the evening office of Vespers in the church.


Alexander, J. J. G. Studies in Italian Manuscript Illumination, London, 2002, 22-54, 382-84, p. 33, n. 30.

Chiarle, Giancarlo. “Certosa d’Asti o di Valmanera,” Monasticon Cartusiense, vol. 4, part 3: Lombardia Propinquior, ed. Silvio Chiaberto, Analecta Cartusiana 185, Salzburg, 2011, pp. 243-268.

Degand, Amand. “Chartreux (Liturgie des),” Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, vol. 3, Paris, 1948, col. 1045-1071.

Fassler, Margot E. and Rebecca A. Baltzer, eds. The Divine Office in the Latin Middle Ages: Methodology and Source Studies, Regional Developments, Hagiography: Written in Honor of Professor Ruth Steiner, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000.

Harper, John. The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy from the Tenth to the Eighteenth Century: A Historical Introduction and Guide for Students and Musicians, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1991.

Hourlier, Jacques and Benoît du Moustier. “Le Calendrier cartusien,” Etudes grégoriennes 2 (1957), pp. 151-161.

Hughes, Andrew. Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A guide to their organization and terminology, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1982.

Leroquais, Victor. Les bréviaires manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France, vol. 2, Paris, 1934.

Lockhart, Robin Bruce. Halfway to Heaven: The Hidden Life of the Sublime Carthusians, London, 1985.

Mearns, James. The Canticles of the Christian Church, Eastern and Western, in Early and Medieval Times, Cambridge, 1914.

Melograni, A. “Appunti di miniatura lombarda. Richerche sul Maestro delle Vitae Imperatorum,” in Storia dell’Arte 70 (1990), pp. 273-314.

Melograni, A. “Due nuovi codici del Magister Vitae Imperatorum.II (Illuminatore dei due manoscritti vaticani),”Aevum 70 (1996), pp. 295-301.

Palladino, Pia. “Master of the Vitae Imperatorum,” Treasures of a Lost Art: Italian Manuscript Painting of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2003, pp. 107-109.

Palazzo, Eric. A History of Liturgical Books from the Beginning to the Thirteenth Century, trans. Madeleine Beaumont, Collegeville, 1998.

Rouse, Mary A. and Richard H. Rouse. “Correction and Emendation of Texts in the Fifteenth Century and the Autograph of the Opus Pacis by ‘Oswaldus Anglicus,’” Authentic Witnesses: Approaches to Medieval Texts and Manuscripts, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, 1991, pp. 427-447.

Online Resources

Baltimore, Walters Art Museum, MS W. 332, Breviary with 77 digitized images of folios with miniatures

Les Enluminures, Book of Hours 101

Cabrol, Fernand. “Breviary,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 2, New York, 1907

On the Carthusian Rite

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

London, British Library, Additional MS 18196, ff. 71-77 (detailed record and images on the British Library’s Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts)

Webster, Douglas Raymond. “The Carthusian Order,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 3, New York, 1908

TM 815