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les Enluminures

Cistercian Homiliary (School of Auxerre), Winter Part

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Northern Italy, c. 1180-1210

TM 552

i (parchment) + 190 + i (parchment) folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil top margin recto, and in pencil, bottom inner margin, lacking two folios at the end, complete except for two folios missing at the end (collation, i-xxiii8 xxiv8 [-7 and 8, with loss of text]), quires signed on the last leaf in roman numerals, middle lower margin, ruled in lead with single full-length vertical bounding lines, prickings remain in all four margins (justification, 248 x 170-162 mm.), written on the top ruled line in a mature twelfth-century minuscule, approaching gothic, using the punctus, punctus elevatus and punctus flexus, by at least two scribes (possible change of hands for example at ff. 113 and 186) in two columns of thirty-six to thirty-five lines, red rubrics, one-line initials in red or blue, two- to three-line alternately red and blue initials, with marginal extensions of up to twenty-lines, a few with simple pen decoration, ff. 1 and 1v, two larger four- to seven-line red or blue initials with decorative void spaces within the initial, in very good condition, occasional original imperfections in the parchment including small holes and uneven bottom edge (for example ff. 9 and 13), medieval repairs to a number of leaves (ff. 25, 182, and 189), opening and closing leaves darkened and stained, slight cockling, f. 32, slit in the bottom inside margin, f. 1, outer margin trimmed away, and stained in the top and bottom margins, f. 2, dark stains outer margin and with small strip cut-out (no loss of text), f. 186, partially detached. Bound in modern red leather, probably by Donald Taylor of Toronto who bound numerous manuscripts for the Pope collection, over heavy early wooden boards; paper stubs inserted between the quires, spine with five raised bands, title in gilt on black leather label, and date, on spine, fastens back to front with a plaited clasp, in excellent condition; previously bound in eighteenth-century brown leather (probably sheep) over heavy wooden boards (Pope, 1999, MS 20; this description records that the manuscript was rebound c. 1985 by Taylor in brown goatskin). Dimensions 310 x 217 mm.

This is an attractive, large-format copy of an important Carolingian Homiliary extant in only fourteen other manuscripts (all except one in public collections); although the text was partially printed in early modern editions, there is a need for a critical edition using all the manuscript evidence. It is possible that this manuscript once belonged to the celebrated Cistercian Abbey of Morimondo in Northern Italy; it was certainly copied in northern Italy, and its exact provenance and place within the manuscripts owned by Morimondo deserves further research.


1. The script, decoration and the history of this manuscript indicate that it was written in a Cistercian House in Northern Italy near the end of the twelfth century or the beginning of the thirteenth century. The script of the manuscript is an example of a late twelfth-century minuscule with some features of gothic script; in particular, it includes letter unions, a trait found in the last decades of the twelfth century in some Italian manuscripts (Derolez, 2003, p. 58, n. 4, cites an example from 1188). Scribes use both the ampersand and tironian “7” to abbreviate “et”; no scribes use e-cedilla or “ae.” The script itself shows the influence of the international style of Cistercian manuscripts, and the close relationship between manuscripts copied in the Cistercian monasteries of Northern Italy and Burgundy. The punctuation is the type used by the Cistercians.

Numerous manuscripts with similar histories were once all believed to be copied at the Cistercian monastery of Sancta Maria of Morimondo near Milan, and this one is no exception. In her first study of the Morimondo library, Mirella Ferrari lists it in the surviving books from the Abbey, but says it was copied in Northern Italy (Ferrari, 1980, p. 278, no. 72); in her more thorough study of the manuscripts surviving from Cistercian monasteries from Northern Italy including Morimondo, Acquafredda, Cerreto, Chiaravalle, Chiaravalle della Columba, and Lucedio, this manuscript (which she had not examined personally), was classified as a Cistercian manuscript from Lombardy (Ferrari, 1993, pp. 292 and 305, as Bergendal MS 20).

2. Possibly belonged to the Abbey of St. Mary of Morimondo in Lombardy near Vercelli, south-west of Milan (Ferrari 1980, 1993, 1998, 1999). Morimondo was founded in 1136; it was a daughter-house of Morimond in Burgundy in France. The manuscript is now in a modern binding, and includes no provenance from Morimondo, but its former owner, Joseph Pope recorded that it included a fifteenth-century inscription pasted on an endleaf (see Pope, 1999, MS 20). Certainly many manuscripts with this general history and appearance were from Morimondo’s library, and the matter deserves further research.

For example, the marginal note on f. 1, “In exc// quis f// sed cur// tum//,” which probably dates around the time the manuscript was copied, and is now unfortunately mostly cut away, appears similar to additions made in two Morimondo manuscripts, Harvard University, Houghton Library, MS Typ 223 and 210 (Light, 1988, plates 5 and 6 ). While the Morimondo scriptorium produced numerous manuscripts in the twelfth century, by the end of the century its library included manuscripts obtained from other sources. Morimondo was suppressed in 1799.

Scholars generally assume that this collection of homelies was composed for private meditation, rather than for liturgical reading during matins, or as a source for public preaching. Nonetheless, this copy suggests that by the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries, this text was in fact, used liturgically. The manuscript includes marginal annotations in pencil (alpha and omega?) which likely mark the beginning and end of readings. Oral reading (and liturgical use), either at matins or in the refectory, is also suggested by the thirteenth-century annotations on f. 129, and ff. 130v-131, expanding the abbreviations interlineally.

The text also includes corrections by the scribe or a contemporary, for example, ff. 10, 25v, 155v; and marginal additions of omitted text (ff. 36 and 56); on f. 144, a marginal note indicates that a sermon for the fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost is missing, and is found at the end of the volume (now missing since two leaves are lacking at the end). Later note added in margin, probably a correction, on f. 152.

3. Continued use into the fifteenth century is indicated by a few later notes, for example, f. 18v, in an italic hand, fifteenth-or sixteenth century, “Activa vita quod sit,” and “contemplativa.”

4. Belonged to Francesco Giovio (1796-1873) of Como, and sold by his descendants, Christie’s, 1 June 1977, lot 163, to Kraus. Traditionally said to have belonged to Francesco’s well-known ancestor, Bishop Paolo Giovio (1483-1552), the historian and humanist, who was a noted collector of art and manuscripts. There seems to be no basis for this assertion (in the case of many manuscripts, it can probably be traced to descriptions by Martini when they were sold in the early twentieth century; see Ferrari, 1993, p. 291).

5. Belonged to Joseph Pope of Toronto (d. 2010), investor banker and prominent collector of medieval manuscripts, who purchased it from Kraus in November 1981; Bergendal Collection MS 20 (described in Pope, 1999; brief notice in Stoneman, 1997 pp. 174-175; an account of the collection is given in Pope, 1997; see also Online Resources, Bergendal Collection).


ff. 1-190v, 160 homilies on the Gospels and Epistles of the liturgical year including the Temporale from Christmas Eve through the fourth Sunday of Advent (with homilies for the feasts of Peter and Paul, the Conversion of Paul, Lawrence, decollation of John the Baptist, Michael, and Andrew included within the Temporale), and concluding with homilies for the Common of Saints (an apostle, a martyr, many martyrs, a confessor and a virgin):

f. 1, Incipit prologus in omelias dominicales totius anni tam euangeliorum quam epistolarum, incipit, “Qvantam et quoniam multiplicem gratiam sancti apostoli a domino christo … Omnium hic remissione peccatorum percepta ad eterne beatudinis gaudia eorum precibus ad uiti per dei gratiam peruenire mereamur.” Explicit prologus;

f. 1v, Incipit epistola ad romanos, incipit, “Fratres. Paulus seruus christi ihesu [Ro 1:1]. Epistola greco uocabulo latine dicitur supermissa uel addita sicut epygramma superscriptio ….”;

f. 2v, Secundum mattheum, incipit, “Cum esset desponsata mater eius maria ioseph [Mt 1:18]. Post aduentum spiritus sancti die pentecostes quando ipse spiritus sanctus …”;

*f. 3, Secundum matheum, incipit, “Liber generationis ihesu christi filii dauid filii Abraham [Mt 1:1]. Sed querendum est cur hic liber generationis dicatur cum per totum textum sui corporis generatio christi non describatur …”;

f. 5, Secundum matheum, incipit, “Cum esset desponsata mater ihesu maria ioseph. Antequam conuenirent … [Mt. 1:18]. Qualiter conceptio domini saluatoris …”;

f. 6v, Pauli apostoli ad titum, incipit, “Apparuit gratia dei saluatoris nostri [Tit 2:11-15]. Hanc epistola paulus apostolus tito dirigit con discipulo …”;

f. 7, Secundum lucam, incipit “Exiit edictum [Luke 2:1], id est mandatum imperiale preceptum …”;

f. 8v, Secundum lucam, In illo tempore, incipit, “Pastores loquebantur ad inuicem [Luke 2:15]. Narrat lucas in superioribus quia domino in bethleem nato mox angelus eiusdem …”;

f. 9v, Ad hebreos, incipit, “Multifarie multisque modis [Hebrews 1:1]. Beatus apostolus non preposuit nomen suum epistole …”;

f. 11v, Sermo sancti augustini de natiuitate domini, incipit, “Natiuitatem domini nostri ihesu chrsiti. Fratres karissimi hodie celebramur non in deliciis carnalibus tamen sicut homines …”:

f. 12, Inicium sancti euangelii secundum iohannem, incipit, “In principio erat uerbum [John 1:1]. Quare non dicit in hoc euangelio sequentia sancti euangelii. Quia non est precedens lectio quam ista sequitur …”;

f. 14v, Sancti stephani protomartiris lectio actuum apostolorum, incipit, “In diebus illis Stephanus plenus gratia et fortutidine faciebat prodigia et signa magna in populo [Acts 6:8]. Stephanus in greco plus est …”;

f. 15, Secundum matheum. Dicebat ihesus turbis iudeourm et princibus sacerdotum, incipit, “Ecce ego mittto ad uos prophetas et sapientes et scribas etc. [Mt. 23:34]. Verba huius lectionis tam beato stephano prothomartiri specialiter …”;

f. 17, In natale sancti iohannes euangeliste. Lectio epistole beati pauli apostoli ad hebreos, incipit, “Benedictus deus et pater domini nostri ihesu christi [Eph. 1:3]. Dupliciter potest intelligi. Benedictus deus creator ominum rerum …”;

f. 17v, Secundum iohannem, incipit, “In illis tempore. Dixit ihesus petro. Sequere me [John 21:19]. Postquam dominus celebrauit ultimum conuiuium cum vii discipulis …”;

f. 18v, In natalis innocentum lectio libri apocalipsi iohannis apostoli, incipit, “Uidi supra montem syon agnum stantem et cum eo c xl iiii milia habentes nomen eius id est christi et nomen patris eius …[Apoc. 14:1]. Syon que interpretatio speculatio ecclesia est que bona futura …”;

f. 19v, Secundum matheum, incipit,“In illis temporum, Angelus domini apparuit in somnis ioeph, etc. [Mt 2:13] Iste locus haberet superiori ubi matheus euangelista dicit …”;

*f. 21, incipit, “Defuncto autem herode [Mt 2:19]. Iste herodes miser ante mortem …”;

f. 22, In octauis domini. Secundum lucam, incipit, “Postquam consummate sunt dies viii ut circumcidetur puer etc. [Lk 2:21]. Ritus id est consuetude est religio cicumcisionis a beato …”:

f. 23v, Dominicus post octavas domini ad Galathas, incipit, “Quanto tempore heres paruulus est [Gal 4:1]. Rex bithinie que est …”;

f. 24, Secundum lucam, incipit, “Erat ioseph et maria mater ihesu mirantes [Lk 2:33]. In textu et autentico euangelii ubi euangelia scribuntur per ordinem ita habetur erat pater eius et mater. Sed propter intelligentiam simplicem popule …”;

f. 26, In theophania, lectio ysaie prophete, incipit, “Surge illuminare ierusalem quia uenti lumen tuum [Isaiah 60:1]. Cadenti uel iacenti dicitur ut surgat. Et illa corruerat …”;

Continuing with homilies for the winter feasts of the Temporale, ending with Holy Saturday,

*f. 73, Lectio sancti euangelii secundum matheum. In illo tempore, incipit, “Uespere sabbati [Mt. 28:1]. Ita debes facere contextum. Venit maria Magdalena et altera maria …”;

Continuing with Easter, f. 73v, through f. 183v, Ember Wednesday (after the fourth Sunday in Advent), including:

f. 73v, In die sancto pasche statio ad sanctam mariam lectio epistole beate pauli apostoli ad corinthios, incipit, “Expurgate uetus fermentum [1 Cor 5:7]. Cum dicit hoc tale est ac si dicatur …”;

f. 74v, Secundum marcum, incipit,”Maria magdalene et maria iacobi et salome emerunt aromata ut uenientes unguerent eum [Mk 16:1]. Legimus in euangelio iiii marias fuisse …”;

*f. 75v, Feria ii secundum lucam, incipit, “Euntes duo ex discipulis ihesu (Luke 24:13]. Simplicem resurrectionem suam multiplicibus dominus argumentis declarare uoluit …”;

*f. 77, Feria iii secundum lucam, incipit, “Stetit ihesus in medio discipulorum [Luke 24:36]. Superior sermo euangelicus narrat quod reuertentes duo discipuli …”;

Concluding, with homilies for the Common of Saints (f. 184) for an apostle, a martyr, many martyrs, a confessor and a virgin, ending imperfectly:

f. 189v, In illo tempore, incipit, “Dixit ihesus discipulus suis parabolam hanc . Simile est regnum celorum et uirginibus [Mt 25:1]. Regnum celorum in hoc loco presentem signeat ecclesiam … sicut e contrario scire dicitur quando eligit et ap//

This manuscript is a copy of a Carolingian Homiliary. The author is unknown, but it belongs to a group of Homiliaries produced in Auxerre in the ninth century by students of Haymo and Heiric of Auxerre. There is no modern edition of this text; printed in Cologne 1530 under the name of Haymo of Halberstadt by Quentell: Homeliae Divi Haymonis, episcopi Halberstattensis, Cologne, P. Quentell, 1530, and in Paris, A. Bonnemère, 1534. It survives in fourteen manuscripts, not including this one; thirteen manuscripts are listed by Burton Van Name Edwards (see Online Resources), and in Barré, 1962, pp. 243-251, all in public collections. This manuscript and another manuscript also formerly in the Bergendal Collection, MS 89, a tenth-century manuscript that includes the summer part of the Gospel homilies, were not known to Barré or listed by Edwards. The manuscript described here is closely related to the two earliest witnesses of the text; ff. 1-73v, the winter part, is especially close to Zürich, Zentralbibliothek, Rheinau MS 12, ff. 1-245, Coire, Switzerland, or Northern Italy, end of ninth century (Z of Barré); and the summer portion, ff. 73v-190v, is almost identical to Lyon, BM, MS 628, a ninth- century manuscript, which Barré considered the best witness (Étaix, 1991, p. 247).

Homiliaries, to use a general definition, are collections of sermons or homilies arranged according to the liturgical year. In many Homiliaries the texts are chiefly from patristic sources. Homiliaries were used for the lessons at Matins, the longest service of the Divine Office, which was said at night during the Middle Ages. They were also, however, the source of texts used for preaching to the people, and for private meditation and study.

Carolingian reforms of the church and the liturgy, which included an emphasis on the importance of preaching, led to the composition of numerous new Homiliaries (a good introduction and summary of the important collections found in Hall, 2000, pp. 221-227). The Homiliaries produced at Auxerre in the ninth century are among the most important of these Carolingian Homiliaries. Haymo of Auxerre (d. 865/66) and his students at Saint-Germain d’Auxerre in the mid- to late-ninth century, including Heiric of Auxerre (841-c. 876), inaugurated a new method of scriptural commentary and sermon composition, producing four original collections (with some contents common to all four); studied by Barré (1962), and Étaix (1991). Most modern scholars believe that these four collections were written for private monastic meditation and study, rather than for liturgical use during Matins, or for preaching to the people. As discussed above, however, this manuscript is proof that these Homilies were used for public reading later in the Middle Ages, either during the Office or in the refectory.

Barré argued that the Homiliary found in this manuscript was a composite collection that originally included only the Gospel homilies, which drew on many earlier sources, including homilies by Haymo and Heiric of Auxerre c. 850-870. According to his theory, this collection was expanded by the author of the manuscript of Lyon, BM, MS 628 to include the homilies on the Epistles at an early date, probably c. 870 (Barré, 1962). Célestin Charlier, however, believed the entire collection was the work of Florus de Lyon (d. c. 860), an important theologian and teacher at the cathedral school of Lyon (Charlier, 1962, and Étaix, 1991).

As Étaix, notes (1991; pp. 244-247) this collection needs further study. The question of the origin of the homilies on the epistles (listed with the sigla A by Barré ) needs further study to determine whether they originated in Lyon or Auxerre and whether they are by the same author as the Gospel homilies (designated Q by Barré after their early edition). Barré demonstrated that thirty-three of the seventy-three Gospel homilies are based on Haymo’s commentaries; the remaining are evidently Carolingian compositions, many based on Patristic sources. Most importantly, since the text of the Homiliary presents significant variations from copy to copy, only a critical edition based on all the manuscripts, including this one, will enable scholars to finally address questions of this collection’s sources and origin, and to determine the original text.

The texts in this manuscript present some significant difference from the version listed in Barré from the Lyon manuscript. Étaix has pointed out that the versions of the homilies for Christmas Eve on f. 2v in this manuscript (QI 1 in Barré) and for Septuagesima on f. 41v (QI 18 in Barré) may possibly preserve readings older than those found in the Lyon manuscript. Other examples of homilies in this manuscript that seem to represent different versions of the text (and were not identified in Barré), include those on ff. 3, 21, 73, 75v and 77 (marked by an asterisk above).

As is true for most patristic and early medieval homilies, the texts preserved here are primarily exegetical. They each begin with a theme taken from the Bible, and then develop the meaning of the text. In contrast with many examples of scholastic sermons from the thirteenth century and later, these biblically-focused homilies are easy for modern readers to appreciate. They also show an awareness of the text of the Bible. The homily on f. 24, for example, begins with a version of Luke 2:33, which here reads “Joseph and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were marveling [at the things said about Jesus],” and states that the authentic text says “His father and mother were marveling,” explaining that in light of the possible confusion when simple people heard this phrase (since God is the father of Jesus), the text here is worded differently.


Barré Henri. Les homéliaires carolingiens de l'école d'Auxerre: authenticité, inventaire, tableaux comparatifs, initia, Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca apostolica vaticana, 1962.

Charlier, Célestin. “Florus de Lyon,” in Dictionnaire de spiritualité 5 (1962), 520-521.

Derolez, Albert. The Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books from the Twelfth to the Early Sixteenth Century, Cambridge, 2003.

Étaix, Raymond. “Les homéliaires carolingiens de l’école d’Auxerre,” in L'école carolingienne d'Auxerre: de Murethach à Rémi, 830-908 : entretiens d'Auxerre 1989, eds. Dominique Iogna-Prat, Colette Jeudy, and Guy Lobrichon, Paris, Beauchesne, 1991, pp. 243-251.

Ferrari, Mirella. “Biblioteche e scrittori Benedettini nella storia culturale della diocesi Ambrosiana: Appunti ed episodi,” Ricerche storiche sulla chiesa Ambrosiana 9, Archivio Ambrosiano 40 (1980), pp. 230–90.

Ferrari, Mirella. “Dopo Bernardo: biblioteche e ‘scriptoria’ cisterciensi dell’Italia settentrionale nel XII secolo,” in Pietro Zerbi, ed., San Bernardo e l’Italia, Milan, 1993, pp. 253-306.

Ferrari, Mirella. “Lo scriptorium di Morimondo,” in Un’Abbazia Lombarda: Morimondo la sua storia e il suo messagio; convegno celebrativo nel VII centenario del termine dei lavori della chiesa abbaziale, 1296-1996. Morimondo, Fondazione Abbatia Sancte Marie de Morimundo, 1998, pp. 103-111.

Ferrari, Mirella. “Sui ‘Salmi’ e sui ‘Profeti’: dal primo catalogo di Morimondo alla Biblioteca Braidense,” in Studi di Storia dell’arte in onore di Maria Luisa Gatti Perer, ed. Marco Rossi and Alessandro Rovetta, Milan, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, 1999, pp. 33-46.

Grégoire, Réginald. Homéliaires liturgiques médiévaux : analyse de manuscrits, Spoleto, Centro italiano di studi sull'Alto Medioevo, 1980.

Hall, Thomas N. “The Early Medieval Sermon,” in Beverly Mayne Kienzle, ed. The Sermon, Typologie des sources du moyen âge occidental 81-83, Turnhout, Brepols, 2000. pp. 203-269.

Kelly, Richard J. The Blickling homilies; edition and translation, London and New York, Continuum, 2003. (good introduction to Homiliaries, including the school of Auxerre).

Light, Laura. The Bible in the Twelfth Century: An Exhibition of Manuscripts at the Houghton Library, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1988.

Pope, Joseph. One Hundred and Twenty-Five Manuscripts: Bergendal Collection Catalogue, Toronto, Brabant Holdings, 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, pp. 163-206. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1997, pp. 157-162.

Stoneman, William P. “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, pp. 163-206. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1997, pp. 163-206.

Online resources

Bergendal Collection of Medieval Manuscripts

Fondazione Abbatia Sancte Marie de Morimundo, “Scriptorium,” (with a list of seventy-five manuscripts once belonging to the Abbey, now in public collections in Italy, France, England and the United States, including this manuscript when it was in Toronto

Lyons, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 628 (link to digitized version)

Burton Van Name Edwards, “The Manuscript Transmission of Carolingian Biblical Commentaries” 24.4, Pseudo-Haymo of Auxerre, Homiliary of Pierre Quentell

Trésors Carolingiens, (online exhibition), Bibliothèque nationale de France, “Les principaux acteurs de la Renaissance carolingienne” (includes brief biographies of Haymo of Auxerre, Heiric of Auxerre and Florus of Lyon)