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les Enluminures

Breviary for the Summer Season (pars aestivalis) (Cistercian Use)

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Southwestern Germany (Herrenalb), c. 1260; c. 1320-1330; 1491

TM 811

i (paper) + 281+ i (paper) on parchment, the second half of the volume (current f. 112 considered ‘I’) was originally foliated in red Roman numerals, top middle margin, then subsequently foliated in small brown roman numerals, some of these altered to reflect changes to the volume, modern foliation, cited here, in pencil top outer corner recto, 1-133, 133bis-280, resewn with numerous added leaves making the original quire structure impossible to reconstruct, current structure is conjectural (collation i-ii12 iii14+1 [one leaf, f. 39, added after 14] iv16 [-13 through16 after f. 51) v8 [-1, cancelled] vi4 vii2 viii14 ix4 x4 [-1, cancelled] xi10 xii14 xiii10 xiv6 [-1, cancelled] xv8 xvi12 xvii6 xviii7 [structure uncertain] xix6 xx12 xxi-xxii10 xxiii14 xxiv8 xv-xxvi14 xvii10 xxviii12 xxix12[+1, f. 280]), no catchwords, leaf signatures in Arabic numerals bottom outer corner quires 1, 2, and 4, the manuscript was made in three stages (here labelled A, B, C), the three sections are intermixed throughout the manuscript (see Text below for specific folios): A, ruled in brown crayon, generally with top two and bottom two horizontal rules full across, single vertical bounding lines (justification 127-124 x 92-90 mm.), except ff. 1-2v, and 9-11v, ruled in brown crayon, with the top two, middle two, and bottom two horizontal rules full across; single full-length vertical bounding lines (justification 128 x 88 mm.), written below the top line in an upright gothic bookhand  in two columns of 22 lines (ff. 1-2v, two columns, 31 lines), red rubrics, one- to two-line alternately red and blue initials, a few with simple pen work, three-line parted red and blue initial with red penwork on f. 1;  B, ruled in lead or brown crayon with the top two and bottom two horizontal rules full across, full-length vertical bounding lines (justification 126 x 90-86 mm.), written in a conservative gothic bookhand  in two columns of 21-20 lines, red rubrics, one- to two-line red initials, four-line parted red and blue initials on ff. 13 and 18; C, using parchment that is noticeably cleaner, thicker, and rougher, ruled in ink with single vertical bounding lines (justification 120 x 90-85 mm.), copied in a late gothic book hand in two columns of 23 lines, majuscules stroked with red, red rubrics, one- to two-line red initials, a few original holes (some sewn), occasional uneven edges (cut-offs), ff. 1-6 are stained, small holes from metal fittings on ff. 1-4 (minor damage to text, modern repairs), lower outer corners often soiled and occasionally stained (the fifteenth-century leaves are clean), f. 16 with repair in the outer margin, ff. 92-95, 112-116, 136-137, and 171-173 are stained along the outer margins.  Bound in Germany (possibly at Herrenalb, some similarities with Karlsruhe, BLB, Lichtenthal MS 3, see Online Resources) at the end of the fifteenth-century in wooden boards covered with brown leather blind-tooled with triple fillets framing large rectangular panels of crocketted wishbone stamps in a lozenge pattern each containing a large fleur-de-lis, spine with three raised bands, paper stamp on spine labelled “MS/ Lectionarium,” holes visible front board from strap and pin fastenings, now with brass fittings lower board, and catches upper board (no straps), in excellent condition, top and bottom of the spine repaired, front pastedown is a leaf from a German manuscript, (justification 123x 87 mm.), copied in a conservative gothic bookhand in two columns of 22 lines.  Dimensions 170 x 123 mm.

This remarkable Breviary remained in use for over two centuries, its two extensive revisions witnessing the Cistercian concern for liturgical correctness.  Leaves were removed, and replaced by new ones; passages were erased and rewritten.  The fifteenth-century scribe, the cantor of Herrenalb, Johannes Zürn, signed and dated his revisions.  Preserved in its fifteenth-century binding, the two sets of foliation (original and fourteenth-century), and a fifteenth-century system of references linking the calendar and the liturgical collects, are notable features.


1. This thirteenth-century Cistercian Breviary from the monastery of Herrenalb in Southwestern Germany was revised twice to keep it up to date with current liturgical practice.  Actively used for more than two hundred years, its story is complex, but compelling.  The original book was copied c. 1260; early in the fourteenth century, probably c. 1320-1330, some leaves were removed, and replaced by new ones.  Analysis of the feasts included in the calendar and Sanctorale allow us to date these first two sections (discussed in detail below).  This process was repeated in the fifteenth century in 1491 by a third scribe, Johannes Zürn, who replaced numerous leaves, erased and re-copied some of the earlier sections, and signed and dated the final page, f. 279v, “Anno 1491 frater iohannes zürn de nyposheim” (In the year 1491, Brother John Zürn of Neibsheim).  All three scribes were careful to use the same general layout, and the overall result is remarkably harmonious. 

Brother John from Neibsheim bei Bretten was a Cistercian monk from Herrenalb.  His work is known in twelve manuscripts (Heinzer, 2001, p. 87, this manuscript no. 10, as Kat. Trübner, 1886, no. 55), including the famous illuminated Herrenalber Gebetbuch, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Ms. theol. lat. qu. 9.  Most of what is known about him is from the colophon in this prayer book.  He was from Neibsheim, north of Karlsruhe in Baden Württemberg, and was probably was born c. 1430; in a list from Herrenalb dated 1497, he is listed as one of the oldest monks.  His oldest dated manuscript is from 1468, the most recent, 1499.  It seems likely that he died soon after 1499.  As cantor of Herrenalb, he was in charge of the liturgy (and the correct copying of liturgical books), and with the exception of the prayer book, all the books he copied, either entirely or in part, were Breviaries or Diurnals.

Herrenalb, a Cistercian House about thirty kilometers south of Karlsruhe in the Black Forest was founded in 1148 by Berthold, Count of Eberstein and his wife, Otha, by monks from the Cistercian Abbey of Neuburg in Alsace (in the line of Morimond).  It was suppressed during the Reformation in 1536. It did not itself have any daughter houses, but it did have a close relationship with the nuns at Licthtenthal in the later Middle Ages from c. 1490-1523.  The monks from Herrenalb actively supervised the liturgy at Licthenthal, as part of the reform of that convent (Heinzer, 2001).  Many of the manuscripts copied by John Zürn in fact survived because they were preserved at Lichtenthal.  Heinzer has identified twenty-two (and possibly two additional manuscripts) surviving manuscripts from Herrenalb, the majority surviving from Lichtenthal’s library, and preserved today at the Abbey of Lichtenthal or at the Badische Landesbibliothek in Karlsruhe.

2. Sold by Karl J. Trübner, Strasbourg, in 1886, his cat. no. 55 (described as a Lectionary).

3. Belonged to John Stirton (1871-1944), book collector and writer, who served as librarian at Balmoral Castle, domestic chaplain to the King in Scotland, and minister of Crathie Kirk, in Crathie, Aberdeenshire from 1919 to 1941.

4. Presented to St. John’s Kirk in Perth, Scotland by Stirton in 1926 (inscription in ink, f. 281v: “Presented to the Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Perth by the Reverend John Stirton D.D. minister of Crathie and Domestic Chaplain to the King – a native of Perth, August 1926”); MS 3 at St. John’s Kirk; described in Ker and Piper, 1992, pp. 160-161.


Front pastedown, leaf from another similar manuscript, or possibly a leaf copied for this manuscript by the second scribe, and then discarded; with the Blessings of salt and water, the text found on f. 1rv here, copied by the first scribe,

f. 1rv, Blessings of salt and water;

ff. 1v-2v, Per octauam assumptionis priuatis diebus. In primo nocturno ant., incipit, “Fons ortorum …”;

Special Antiphons for selected times of the year in the Temporale and Sanctorale.

ff. 3-8v, Calendar in red and black, with one month for page, following the Cistercian calendar (dates indicate when these feasts were celebrated by the Cistercians; see Backaert, 1950; and Online Resources), including Genevieve, commemoration (i3) (1257); William, bishop, in red, possibly rewritten (i10) (1218); Commemoratio episcoporum et abbatum (i11); Anthony abbot in black, [another hand added twelve lessons?] (i17) (1260, xii lessons); Thomas confessor, in black, added, twelve lessons, in red, also added (iii7) (1329); Eustace of Luxeuil, added in a later hand (29iii); Ambrose, in red, twelve lessons, added (iv1) (1300, two masses); added, “Ruperti,” in red, possibly over the original name in black (iv29) (1254); Hugo (iv29), here in black, added in a later hand (1321 comm.); Peter martyr, in black, with indication of twelve lessons in red (iv30) (1255); John before the Lateran gate (v6), in black, twelve lessons (1246); Peter, bishop and confessor, in red, added (v8), (1196 twelve lessons, 1294 two masses and proper readings); Yves, twelve lessons, added (v19); Barnabas, in red, rewritten (vi11); John the Baptist, in red, rewritten (vi24); Peter and Paul, in red, rewritten (vi29); Visitation, in red, added later (vii2) (1476); Octave of Visitation, added later (vii9); translation of Benedict (vii11), in red, rewritten (1291); Dedicatio in alba monachorum (12vii); Margaret (vii20) (comm. 1260); Dominic (viii5) (1255); Lawrence, rewritten in red (viii10); Crown of Thorns, rewritten in red (viii11) (1292 for the whole Order); Bernard, rewritten in red (viii20); Louis confessor, added (viii25) (1298, 12 lessons, 2 masses); Octave of Bernard, twelve lessons (viii27) (1295);  Augustine in red, rewritten (viii29) (12 lessons, 1300); Octave of the Nativity of Mary, with twelve lessons added  (ix15) (1245); “Lamperti,” twelve lessons (ix17); Commemoration of the departed brothers, families and benefactors of the order, added (ix19); Wenceslas, added (ix28) (1302); Jerome in red, added (ix30 (1300); Francis, indication of twelve lessons possibly added (x4) (12 lessons 1259); 11,000 martyrs, in red added (x21) (1262); Malachy, twelve lessons, rewritten (xi5); Edmund in red, possibly rewritten (xi16) (1247); Commemoration of our parents, added (xi20); Eligius in red, rewritten (xii1) (1230, com., 1287, 12 lessons); Thomas of Canterbury, in red, possibly rewritten (xii29);

ff. 9-10, Collects for the common of saints; each followed by a letter in red, ‘a’-‘z’, and three additional symbols, which correspond to the letters and symbols copied in the calendar;

Karlsruhe, BLB, Lichtenthal MS 20, a Cistercian Breviary dated 1472, also partially copied by Johannes Zürn, uses this same system (Heinzer, 2001, p. 501; and Online Resources).

ff. 10-11v, Proper collects for Marcellus (January 16), Prisca, Octave of Agnes, Tiburtius and Valerius, George, and so forth, ending with Saturninus (November 29);

f. 12, [added in a fifteenth-century cursive script], Table for finding movable feasts;

ff. 12v-111v, Temporale from Easter to the twenty-fifth Sunday after the octave of Pentecost;

The original text (hand A), was altered by sections added at two different times (hands B, and C):  ff. 12v-23v, hand B (Easter to the Sunday in the Octave of Easter); ff. 24-51v, hand A; ff. 52-58v, hand C, Corpus Christi and Sunday within the Octave; ff. 59-62v, hand A; ff. 63-64v, hand C, third, fourth and fifth Sundays after Pentecost; ff. 65-82v, hand A; ff. 83-85v, hand C,  second and third Sundays after Octave of Pentecost (alternate readings?); and ff. 86-111v, hand A. 

ff. 112-226, Sanctorale from Benedict (March 21) to Eligius (December 1);

The original Sanctorale (hand A), was extensively altered by two later interventions (hands B and C), replacing many of the original leaves, and sometimes erasing and re-writing older sections:  ff. 112-117v, hand B (Benedict, lacks Annunciation, Ambrose [with hand C scraping and rewriting ff. 116v-117], Mark; ff. 118-119v, hand A (continuing Mark); ff. 120-124v, hand C, Hugh [1321]; Peter martyr [1255], Philip and James, Invention of the Cross; ff. 125-126v, hand A, Invention of the Cross continues; ff. 127-131, hand B, John before the Lateran Gate [1246]; Peter of Tarentaise; Ives, short [partially rewritten by C], Barnabas, John the Baptist; ff. 131v-133v-bis, hand A, John the Baptist; ff. 134-144v, hand B, John and Paul, Peter and Paul, Commemoration of Paul, Octave John Baptist, [bottom half column ff. 144v, rewritten by C]; ff. 145-153v, C: Visitation [1476], Mary Magdalene ff. 154rv, hand B(?); ff. 155-157v, hand A, James; ff. 158-163v, hand C, Anne [1454, 12 lessons], Peter in chains,  Invention of Stephen; ff. 164-167v, hand B, Dominic [after 1255], Lawrence; ff. 168-170v, hand A; f. 171, partially copied by hand  C, Crown of Thorns; ff. 171-174v, hand B, Crown of Thorns; f. 175rv, and part of f. 176, C; ff.  176-212, hand A, Assumption, with vigil, [Louis added top margin, 1298], Decollation of John, Nativity of Mary, Exaltation of Cross, “Lampert” [1246], Maurice, Michael, Jerome, Remigius, Francis (short), Dionysius (partially updated), Luke, vndecim milia virginum, Simon and Jude, All Saints; ff. 213-215, hand C, All Saints; ff. 216-225,  hand A, Malachy, Edmund, Cecelia, Clement, Katherine, Andrew.

ff. 226-262v, Common of Saints, concluding with the Dedication of a Church;

The three sections represented as follows:  ff. 226-228v, C; ff. 229-230, A; ff. 231-248, B; ff. 249-250v, C; ff. 251-255v, B; ff. 256-258v, A; ff. 259-263, col. a, C;

Saints mentioned by name with special sets of capitula and collects:  f. 240, Dionysius, Fabian and Sebatstian, John and Paul, and Maurice, f. 245, Silvester, Gregory, Augustine, and Martin; and f. 245v, Nicholas, William, Ambrose, Peter, Remigius, Julian, Malachy, Edmund; f. 258, Agnes, Mary Magdalene, Cecilia, Agatha, Lucy, and Katherine.

ff. 263-267v, Monastic Canticles for Easter (Quis est iste, Venite et revertamur, Expecta me), Sundays (Domine miserere nostri, Audite qui longe, Miserere domine plebi, for the Cross (Domine audivi, Pro iniquitate, Egressus es), and for an apostles and martyrs (Vos sancti, Fulgebunt, Reddet deus), for a martury (Beatus vir, Benedictus vir, Beatus vir qui inventus), virgins (Audite me, Gaudens gaudebo, Non vocaberis);

Mearns, 2014, pp. 87-92; ff. 263, col. b-266v, hand A; f. 267rv, hand C;

ff. 267v-279v, Hymns from Easter to the Dedication of a Church, concluding with a scribal colophon, Anno 1491 frater Iohannes Zürn de nyposheim [ends top col. a, remainder blank];


Hymns, not noted, for the important feasts of the Temporale, Sanctorale, and Common of Saints, concluding with the Dedication of a Church; f. 267v, hand C; ff. 268-269v, hand A; ff. 269v, col. b-275, hand C; ff. 276-277, hand A; ff. 278-279, hand C.   Hymns copied by hand C include Corpus Christi, Holy Cross, John before the Lateran Gate, John the Baptist, Peter Martyr, Marian Feasts, Translation of Benedict, Lawrence, Crown of Thorns, Bernard, and Michael.

f. 280 [added], table of kalends and dominical letters related to the readings for August-November; [f. 280v, blank, with added modern ownership note].

The Divine Office (today known as the Liturgy of the Hours) was the daily prayer of the Church, recited (or chanted) by priests, and other religious, including monks and nuns, beginning with Matins, said during the night, and continuing through the day, with Lauds at dawn, followed by Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and concluding with Compline.  The regular observance of the Office was particularly important to monastic life.  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 manuscript is undoubtedly Cistercian, as evidenced by its liturgical use; the calendar includes many characteristic Cistercian Saints (Bernard of Claivaux, and his octave, Robert of Molesme, founder and first abbot of Cȋteaux (here “Ruperti”), Malachy, whose cult originated at Clairvaux, Peter, abbot of Tamié and later bishop of Tarentaise, and Edmund of Abingdon, archbishop of Canterbury, buried at Pontigny, as well as the Cistercian feasts for honoring the dead of their order (Commemoratio episcoporum et abbatum (January 11), Commemoration of the departed brothers, families and benefactors of the order, added (September 19) Commemoration of our parents, added (November 20).  The Cistercian system of punctuation that includes the mark known as the punctus flexus is found here in the first text (ff. 1rv); this text and the Canticles, ff. 263-267v, have also been accented to aid in reading out load (the accents and perhaps some of the punctuation may be added).

One of the characteristics of the Cistercian Order was their concern with establishing uniform customs and liturgical practices throughout the Order, and establishing a regular system to ensure this through annual general councils and visitations.  This manuscript as it survives today is a composite volume.  Two later scribes, one in the fourteenth century, and one in 1491, inserted new leaves to update the original thirteenth-century Breviary.  All three scribes were careful to use the same general layout, and the overall result is remarkably harmonious.  Nonetheless, the fifteenth-century leaves are easily identified because they are copied on thicker and rougher parchment (they are also generally cleaner).  The Sanctorale was originally foliated in red Roman numerals; in the fourteenth century, the second scribe numbered his leaves in small Roman numerals in brown ink, erasing and altering the original series as needed.  The fifteenth-century leaves were unnumbered.  The complicated process of keeping this book updated is illustrated by the care that was taken to erase cross-references that were no longer accurate (for example see f. 199 where the readings for Remigius were once followed by a folio reference which was erased and replaced with “unius conf. et pont”).

The carefully regulated liturgy also helps dating the various sections within this volume.  The calendar was extensively reworked with additions and many saints apparently rewritten in red, making it difficult at times to determine the dates of all the changes.  The original entries date after 1255, probably c. 1260, and include for example, Genevieve, commemoration (i3) (1257); Peter martyr, in black, with indication of twelve lessons in red (iv30) (1255); John before the Lateran gate (v6), in black, twelve lessons (observed with 12 lessons and a Mass, 1246); Margaret (vii20) (commemoration 1260); and Dominic (viii5) (1255).

It was then extensively updated in the early fourteenth century, c. 1320-1330, by hand B to bring it up to date, both by adding feasts including Thomas confessor, in black, but with twelve lessons added in red (7iii) (1329), Ambrose, in red, twelve lessons added (iv1) (1300, two masses), Hugo (iv29), in black, (1321 comm.), Peter of Tarentaise, in red (v8), (1196 twelve lessons and Mass, 1294 two masses and proper readings), Louis confessor, added (viii25) (1298, 12 lessons, 2 masses), Octave of Bernard, twelve lessons (viii27) (1295), Jerome in red (ix30) (1300 two Masses), Wenceslas, added (ix28) (1302), and by re-writing feasts included in the original calendar in red (for example, Augustine (viii28) (two Masses 1300) and Eligius (xii1) (1230 commemoration, 1287, 12 lessons).  It was updated again in the fifteenth century, perhaps by Johannes Zürn in 1491 (hand C), when the Visitation, was added in red (vii2) (1476).  A different late medieval  hand added Eustace of Luxeuil (29iii) (not found in the usual Cistercian calendar).

Feasts included the original section of the Sanctorale confirm a date for the original of after 1255, and before 1294, since John before the Lateran gate (May 6), observed in 1246, and Dominic (August 5), observed in 1255, are included.  Peter of Tarentaise (8 May), observed from 1294, is found in a section copied by hand B in the fourteenth century.  In 1491 Johannes Zürn (hand C), copied large sections including those adding the Visitation, observed from 1476, and Anne, mother of Mary (1454 twelve lessons, although celebrated in some convents from 1375). 


Backaert, Bernard. “L’évolution du Calendrier cistercien,” Collectanea Ordinis Cisterciensium Reformatorum 12 (1950), pp. 81-94, 307-316; 13 (1951) pp. 108-127.

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

Heinzer, Felix. “Andacht in Word und Bild zum ‘Herrenalber Gebetbuch’ von 1482/84,” Zeitschrift für Württembergische Landesgeschichte 62 (2003), pp. 85-99; reprinted in Heinzer, 2008, pp. pp. 464-481.

Heinzer, Felix. “Iohannes Zürn aus Neibsheim, ein Herrenalber Mōnch des 15. Jahrhunderts als Handschriften-schreiber.  Ein Beitrag Zur Frage Der Beziehungen Zwischen Herrenalb und Lichtenthal,” Zeitschrift für die Geschichte des Oberrheins 133 (1985), pp. 67-80; reprinted in Heinzer, 2008, pp.  447-463.Heinzer, Felix and Gerhard Stamm. Die Handschriften von Lichtenthal …, Die Handschriften der Badischen Landesbibliothek in Karlsruhe 11, Wiesbaden, 1987. 

Heinzer, Felix. “Herrenalb – Frauenalb – Lichtenthal: Spurensuche in einem Bibliotheksgeschichtlichen Dreieck,” in Rückert and Schwarmaier, 2001, pp. 75-88; reprinted in Heinzer, 2008, pp. 485-502.

Heinzer, Felix. Klosterreform und mittelalterliche Buchkultur im deutschen Südwesten, Leiden and Boston, 2008.

Heinzer, Felix. “Lichtenthaler Bibliothekgeschichte als Spiegel der Klostergeschichte,”

Zeitschrift für die Geschichte des Oberrheins 136 (1988), pp. 35-62.

Ker, N. R., and Alan J. Piper, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, vol. 4: Paisley–York, Oxford, 1992, pp. 160-161.

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

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

Krämer, Sigrid. Handschriftenerbe des Deutschen Mittelalters in Mittelalterliche Bibliothekskataloge Deutschlands und der Schweiz. Ergänzungsband, Munich, 1989, p. 347.

Rückert, P. and Schwarzmaier, H.  850 Jahre Kloster Herrenalb: auf Spurensuche nach den Zisterziensern, Oberrheinische Studien 19, Stuttgart, 2001.

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

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

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

Trübner , Karl. J.  Verzeichniss einer werthvollen Sammlung von Pergament- und Papierhandschriften aus dem XII. - XV. Jahrhundert : Teigdrucken, Incunabeln und anderen typographischen Seltenheiten, welche ... 1886 ... bei Karl J. Trübner ... öffentlich versteigert warden, Strassburg  1886, this manuscript is no. 55.

Online at http://digital.blb-karlsruhe.de/blbihd/content/structure/3097490

Online Resources

Manuscripts now at Karlsruhe, BLB aus Lichtentahl

Karlsruhe, BLB, Lichtenthal MS 20

Kurt Andermann, “Zisterzienserabtei Herrenalb, Klōster in Baden-Württemberg” (with bibliography)

Herrenalber Gebetbuch : Staatsbibliothek Berlin, Ms. theol. lat. qu. 9 , 1482

Karl Maier, “Das Herrenalber Gebetbuch von 1484”


Lichtenthal, Monastic Matrix (with list of manuscripts)

Calendrier Cistercien

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

Jean-Baptiste Lebigue, Initiation aux manuscrits liturgiques, Ædilis, Publications pédagogiques, 6, Paris-Orléans, IRHT, 2007

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