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les Enluminures

Breviary (use of Rome); Missal for Votive Masses

In Latin, decorated manuscript on paper and parchment
Italy (Central?), c. 1460-1480

TM 886

301+ i (parchment endleaf, probably a lifted pastedown, from an Italian legal document that includes a date, 1352) folios on parchment (ff. 1-5) and paper, watermark, usually obscured by script but visible in the blank leaves at the back, Piccard online, no. 122413, scissors, Rome 1478; also similar, but less close, Briquet online no. 3671, Genoa 1462, Palermo 1466-7, Genoa 1466-8, Naples 1469-71; and no. 3687, Genoa 1467-1470, modern foliation in pencil, top outer corner recto, earlier modern foliation every ten leaves bottom outer corner recto beginning with “10” on the present f. 7, lacking the first leaf of the calendar, possibly two beginning leaves if the older foliation is correct, and a leaf after f. 238, with 17 blank leaves), (collation i8 [-1 and 2, two leaves before f. 1, and -8, a leaf after f. 6, with loss of text] ii-v12 vi12 [-12, a cancelled blank after f. 64] vii12 viii12 [+a half sheet added after 8, f. 85] ix-xiv12 xv12 [-12, a cancelled blank after f. 172] xvi-xxiii12 xxiv11 [8, f. 288, is single and there are traces of writing on its stub before f. 284, but there is no break in the text] xv10), no catchwords or quire signatures, frame-ruled in ink with vertical and horizontal bounding lines only, all full length, written on the top line in a very small upright hybrida script influenced by humanistic script by several scribes (see Provenance below), layout varies, ff. 6-280v: (justification 116-112 x 80-78 mm.) in 35-39 long lines (and with as many as 45 lines on some folios), ff. 281-292: (102-100 x 80-78 mm.), in two columns of 34-33 lines, majuscules within the text stroked with red, and occasionally, including from f. 281 to end, in pale yellow, notes to the rubricator often visible, red rubrics, one- to two-line red initials, two-line red and black KL-initials in the calendar with yellow highlights, bottom corner f. 2, patched, f. 23 lower corner torn, f. 141, lower half of the page yellowed (but legible), slight tear lower margin ff. 158 and 112 , a few stains and some thumbing lower margins, but overall in very good condition.  Bound in a CONTEMPORARY, probably ORIGINAL dark leather binding over wooden boards, almost flush with the book block, tooled in blind with simple fillets intersecting on the diagonal, spine with two raised bands, head and tail bands of plain cord, once fastened front to back (only nails remain upper board, and two holes, lower board), cords are broken at the hinges, scuffing and wear to both covers, a few worm holes, cracking along the joint upper board, but overall in good condition.  Dimensions 138 x 105 mm.

This interesting and rare portable Franciscan Breviary also includes a brief Missal for votive masses.  With just this one volume, a travelling Franciscan carried with him a comprehensive liturgical library.  Written on paper (unusual for a liturgical volume), this is almost certainly an example of a book copied by a friar for his own use.  Still preserved in an early, probably original binding, this manuscript is not only of interest as a physical object, but also as a source for medieval Church history, the Franciscan Order, and the liturgy.


1. Written in Italy, perhaps in central Italy, c. 1460-1480, based on the watermark, liturgical contents, and binding.  There is no doubt this was made for Franciscan use, as evident in the saints in the calendar and the Sanctorale.  It must date after 1457, since calendar includes the Transfiguration (August 6), celebrated by the Franciscans from that date; Vincent Ferrer (5 April), canonized in 1455, is included in the calendar; Bernardinus (20 May), canonized in 1450 is included in the litany and the Sanctorale.  His feast has been added to the calendar, and is celebrated in the Sanctorale with a reference to the Common of Saints rather than a proper Office.  It most likely dates before c. 1481, since Joseph (19 March), is included in the calendar, but is not in red (the feast was duplex from 1480/1), and Bonaventure (feast 15 July, canonized 1482) is lacking. 

Evidence of the watermark, the endleaf from an Italian document, and the binding (which fastens in the Italian fashion front to back), all confirm an origin in Italy, perhaps in the region of Rome (watermark), or near Montefalco (another hand in the calendar added a note that St. Fortunatus was from Montefalco).  Nonetheless, it is interesting that the scribes often use the northern abbreviation for “qui” (perhaps some of the scribes were educated in northern Europe?).

The choice of paper, rather than parchment (unusual for a Breviary), the simple frame ruling, and the very economical, tiny scripts are all signs that this Breviary was copied within a Franciscan convent by the friars themselves for their own use.  It was copied by at least three different scribes, but their alteration does not tell a simple story – hands change within quires, and even within a single Office, and there are blanks left throughout that are very hard to explain (detailed below, see Text).

2. Notes for the rubricator throughout, but overall there are very few readers’ notes; signs of use include dirt in the lower corners, particularly evident in the Common of Saints.  Users also used the blank leaf, f. 301v, to add a recipe (“pro guetis”), perhaps for wakefulness(?), and a series of tally marks keeping track of the number of masses said.

3. Owners’ and dealers’ annotations, inside front cover in pencil: “25”; “46i/V.w”; f. 301v, “76.”

4. Belonged to Joseph Pope (1921-2010) of Toronto, investor banker and prominent collector of medieval manuscripts, who acquired it from Sotheby's, November 26, 1985, lot 113; Bergendal Collection MS 77 (described in Pope, 1999; brief description in Stoneman, 1997, p. 196; an account of the collection is given in Pope, 1997).


ff. 1-5v, Calendar in red and black, now beginning imperfectly in the middle of March, with numerous Franciscan saints including Francis (October 4), in red, with octave, the feast of his Stigmata (September 20), and his translation, added (May 25), Bernardinus, added (May 20), and his translation, also added (May 17), Clare ( August 11), and the translation of Clare, in red (October 2), Anthony of Padua (June 13), in red, with octave, Louis of Toulouse, in red (August 18), and his translation, also in red (November 8).  Also includes Thomas Aquinas, in another hand (March 7), Joseph (March 20), Vincent Ferrer, O.P. (April 5), Transfiguration in red (August 6), Antoninus, original hand (September 2), Nicholas of Tolentino, added (September 10).  Fortunatus (June 1), was added, and then another hand added: “in montefalcone.”

ff. 6-56v, Choir Psalter, beginning with the hymn for Sundays in Advent from the octave of Epiphany until Quadragesima Sunday and from the kalends of October until Advent (In nomine domini ympnus iste sequens dicitur in dominicis diebus aduentus ab octaua epiphanie usque …);

ff. 56v-58, Office of the Dead, use of Rome;

ff. 58-63v, Prayers for death and burial (in another hand, and without rubrication, but closely contemporary; prayers are for masculine use); [f. 58v, text ends mid folio, leaving remainder blank; f. 63v, text ends mid folio, remainder blank];

f. 64, Benedictions;

f. 64v, Table of readings for feasts depending on the dominical letter, a-g;

ff. 65-172v, Temporale (In nomine domini incipit ordo breuiarii secundum consuetum romane ecclesie …) from the first Sunday in Advent through the twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost (beginning f. 161v), followed by the Old Testament readings for summer Sundays; [ends mid f. 171, remainder and f. 172rv, blank];

Following the Saturday after the Octave of Epiphany are suffrages of St. Francis, of St. Anthony [of Padua], of St. Louis [of Toulouse], of St Bernardinus, of St. Clare, and for peace; litany, f. 102v, with Benedict, Francis, Anthony, Bernardinus, Dominic, and Bernard for the monks and hermits, and Clare and Elizabeth among the virgins. 

Layout varies usually with no obvious explanation; some sections of text are very compressed, and there are occasional blanks: f. 85, is a half sheet inserted into the quire, but copied by the original scribe, with texts for the Vigil of Epiphany; f. 143v, text ends three-quarters down, remainder blank; ff. 144-145, Office of Trinity Sunday copied in a very tiny script on 44 lines squeezed into the available space; ff. 148-151, a similarly compressed layout is used through f. 151, where the text ends three-quarters down, with the remainder and f. 151v, blank (new hand and format begins on f. 152).

ff. 173-251v, Incipit pars festivalis sanctorum tocius anni …; Sanctorale from Saturninus (29 November) through Catherine of Alexandria (25 November), includes f. 192v, Bernardinus (with reference to the Common of Saints); f. 192v, translation of Francis; f. 195, Anthony of Padua; f. 203, Visitation; f. 211, Dominic; f. 214, Clare; f. 219v, Louis of Toulouse (August 19); f. 228v, Stigmata of Francis; f. 232v, Francis (see below); f. 244v, Louis of Toulouse (November 8); f. 248, Elizabeth; Grisogonus ends bottom f. 250, with f. 250v left blank, and text concludes on f. 251, Catherine of Alexandria [ending top f. 251v, remainder blank];

Office for St. Francis is Julian of Speyer’s rhymed office beginning on f. 232v, with readings from Bonaventure’s Legenda maior, incipit, “Apparuit gratia dei saluatoris nostri diebus istis nouissimis in seruo suo Francisco omnibus uere humilibus …”; following the Office are readings for his Octave on ff. 234-240v from Bonaventure’s Legenda minor, incipit, “Apparuit gratia dei saluatoris nostri diebus istis nouissimis in seruo suo Francisco .  Quem pater misericordiarum et luminum in tam larga dulcedinis benedictione preuenit quod sicut ex uite ipsius decursu luculentur apparet.  Non solum de mundialibus tenebris eduxit in lucem.  Sed et perfectis …”; ending imperfectly, “…. Uero carnis ipsius ad//”; the text on f. 241 is for the feast of Sergius and Bacchus on October 7.

F. 244 ends at the top of the folio in the Office for the Nativity of Mary, remainder and f. 225rv, are blank; (text resumes with no loss on f. 226 with Adrian, also 8 September); f. 227v, Exaltation of the Cross, 14 September, ends mid folio, remainder blank (text resumes on f. 228 with Cyprian, also 14 September); Office for Martin begins f. 245v, continuing through f. 246, and then concluding on f. 247v; ff. 246v-247 were left blank, although the text is continuous, evidence that the scribe simply skipped a page while copying.

ff. 252-264, Common of Saints concluding with the Dedication of a Church;

One scribe concludes mid f. 256, another scribe continues ff. 256-256v, ending top of the page (without completing the rubrication), and leaving the remainder f. 256v, blank.

ff. 265-266v, [copied without rubrics], Unidentified Office; [ff. 267-268v, blank];

ff. 269-271v, General rubrics for the Breviary; f. 270, Parisian table of ferial antiphons before Christmas; [ff. 272-280v, blank];

The beginning of the first text agrees with the General Rubrics for the Breviary (see Van Dijk, 1963, vol. 2, pp. 184, 187, 190); the second text is edited in Van Dijk, 1963, vol. 2, pp. 401-408.

ff. 281-292v [Missal for Votive Masses], ff. 281rv, Exorcism of Salt and Water; ff. 282-288, Votive Masses for the Trinity, the Cross, of the Virgin, of the Virgin in Advent, for sin, for the suffrage of saints, for persecutors, for this priest, for temptation, for rain, for the serenity of air, for whatever tribulation, for the dead, for father and mother, for dead brothers, for all souls; ff. 288-289, Ordinary of the Mass; ff. 289-290, Prefaces; ff. 290-292v, Canon of the Mass; f. 292rv, Mass for the Transfiguration; [ff. 293-301, blank];

f. 301v, blank with later texts, a recipe (for wakefulness?), incipit, “Recepta pro guetis aprobata et probata …,” and are a set of interesting annotations:  first line, “misse,” followed by thirty tally marks, second line, “misse, 30,” third line, “misse,” followed by fourteen tally marks.

The tally marks must record masses said, perhaps masses said for the dead (in the fifteenth century Franciscan priests were to say thirty masses each month for the deceased members of their order; Pope, 1999).

Breviaries include the complete service of the Divine Office recited daily by men and women vowed to the religious life.  Every teaching collection needs examples of Breviaries from different religious orders.  This is an exceptionally interesting and rare portable Franciscan Breviary that also includes a brief Missal for votive masses.  With just this one portmanteau volume, a travelling Franciscan had a comprehensive liturgical library.  Copied on paper with parchment used only for the calendar (quite unusual for a liturgical volume), this is almost certainly an example of a book copied by Franciscan friars for their own use.  The interaction of the three (or more) scribes, and the tantalizing blank spaces and pages, invite further analysis.  Still preserved in an early, probably original binding, this is a book that is of interest as a physical object (of broad interest to students of the history of the book and medieval manuscripts), as well as to scholars and students interested in medieval Church history, the Franciscan Order, and the liturgy.

Breviaries contains all the texts required for the celebration of the Divine Office – the Psalms, prayers, other readings (many, but not all of which are from the Bible), hymns, antiphons, responsories, and versicles. (The Divine Office consists of prayers said throughout the day and night by members of religious orders at the offices of Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline.)  This is a secular Breviary for Franciscan Use, which includes nine lessons at Matins for major feasts, following the use of the Roman curia, adopted by the Franciscans in the thirteenth century, and popularized by them. 

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 were granted permission to live Francis’ radical vision of a life of complete apostolic poverty. From these humble beginnings, the Franciscan Order grew rapidly, attracting members across Europe.  Since they were an international order, the need for a uniform liturgy was felt from an early point in their history, and the Rule of 1223 specified that the Friars were to follow the Office “according to the order of the Roman Church.”  This “order of the Roman Church” – actually the liturgy used at the Papal Court – became the basis for the Franciscan liturgy.  In 1243-44, there was a general reform of their liturgy by Haymo of Faversham (d. 1244).  Haymo, who was born in England, and served as the fourth minister general of the Franciscan Order from 1240-1244, issued new Ordinals for the Franciscan Missal and Breviary to serve as the models for Order’s liturgical books.  The Franciscan Use, or Use of Rome, was destined to have a great influence on the subsequent history of the Roman liturgy, since it was the basis for the liturgy mandated by the Council of Trent to be used throughout the Roman Catholic Church.


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

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, 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, 1991.

Hughes, Andrew. Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A Guide to their Organization and Terminology, Toronto, 1982.

Moorman, John. A History of the Franciscan Order from its Origin to the Year 1517, Oxford, 1968.

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

Salmon, Pierre. The Breviary through the Centuries, tr. Sister David Mary, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1962.

Pope, Joseph.  One hundred and twenty-five manuscripts:  Bergendal Collection Catalogue, Toronto,1999.

Pope, Joseph. “The Library that Father Boyle Built,” in A Distinct Voice: Medieval Studies in Honor of Leonard Boyle, O.P., edited by Jacqueline Brown and William P. Stoneman, Notre Dame, 1997, pp. 157-162

Stoneman, William.  “A Summary Guide to the Medieval and Later Manuscripts in the Bergendal Collection, Toronto,” in A Distinct Voice: Medieval Studies in Honor of Leonard Boyle, O.P., edited by Jacqueline Brown and William P. Stoneman, Notre Dame, 1997, pp. 163-206.

Van Dijk, S. J. P. and J. Hazelden Walker. The Origins of the Roman Liturgy. The Liturgy of the Papal Court and the Franciscan Order in the Thirteenth Century, Westminster, Maryland, 1960.

Van Dijk, S. J. P., ed. Sources of the Modern Roman Liturgy: The Ordinals of Haymo of Faversham and Related Documents, 1243-1307, 2 vols., Leiden, 1963.

Online Resources

Franciscan Archive, St. Bonaventure (with links to his writings, including the Legenda minor)

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

Consuelo Dutschke and Susan Boynton, “Celebrating the Liturgy’s Books” (Introduction to liturgical manuscripts)

TM 886