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Diurnal (Dominican Use)

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Southern Germany or Alsace (Upper Rhineland, possibly Strasbourg), c. 1300-1320 (probably c. 1302-1307); with later fourteenth- and fifteenth-century additions

TM 835

337 + ii (paper) folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil, top outer recto, 1-337, complete (collation, i6 ii-x12 xi10 xii-xxv12 xxvi-xxvii10 xxviii8 xxix10 xxx8 [-8; stub remains where final leaf was canceled with no loss of text]), horizontal catchwords written and outlined in black ink, lower inner verso, for quires ii-xxiv, ruled in brown ink with full-length vertical bounding lines and sets of two full-length horizontal bounding lines at top and bottom, prickings visible in upper and lower margins (justification calendar, 121-122 x 76-77 mm., Breviary text 95-98 x 61-65 mm.), written chiefly in black in a well-formed Gothic bookhand with some decorative hairlines on sixteen long lines, rubrics written or underlined in red, capitals touched in red, one-line red or blue paraphs, guide letters for initials, one-line versal initials in red or blue, one- to two-line initials in red or blue with pen decorations in blue and red, often including small flowers and extending in vertical bars along the length of the text and sometimes with animals, including a hybrid figure (f. 32v), a dragon (f. 58v), two birds (ff. 242v, 279v), and a dog (f. 244v), TWO INITIALS WITH VERY FINE PENWORK BORDERS:  one four-line red and blue parted initial with red and blue pen decoration including small flowers and a fantastic creature biting a ball and extending in a bar border on three sides (f. 232v), one five-line initial with white dragon-like figures framed in red and blue, with very fine red and blue pen decoration including small flowers and a sitting dog and forming a full bar border with roundels at the four corners filled with hybrid creatures or flowers (f. 9), slight losses of pen decoration due to cropping, later additions on ff. 289v-337 written in at least eight Gothic bookhands, mostly on sixteen long lines: ff. 289v-290v, similar script to that of the primary scribe, red rubrics, capitals touched in red, two-line blue and red initials with contrasting pen decorations in red, purple, and blue extending in vertical bars; ff. 291-302v, in at least one similar hand, red rubrics and paraphs, capitals touched in red, one- and two-line initials in red or blue; ff. 303-306v, in a narrow hand, red rubrics, capitals touched in red, one- and two-line red initials; ff. 306v-307, 308-318v, in a compact script, red rubrics and paraphs, capitals touched in red, one-line versal initials in blue or red, two-line initials in blue or red, some with contrasting pen decorations in red or blue; ff. 307v, 318v-319v, in a thinner and more rapid script, on ff. 313-319v, written on eighteen long lines (justification 109 x 77 mm.), red rubrics, capitals touched in red, one- and two-line red initials; f. 320, in a rapid and smudged script; ff. 321-337, in at least one large, heavy script with many decorative hairlines (justification 113-118 x 71-77 mm.), red rubrics, capitals touched in red, one- and two-line red initials; f. 337, in a rapid script, capital touched in red, two-line red initial; some slight staining or smudging (see particularly ff. 17v, 302v), ink corrosion on about twenty leaves, with a substantial portion of f. 219 now missing, tear in the margin of f. 251, splits in ff. 234 and 259 have been repaired with colored thread, otherwise in good condition.  Bound in fifteenth- or sixteenth-century brown leather, blind-tooled with triple fillets in three concentric rectangles and blind-stamped with floral and arabesque designs, all over beveled wooden boards, spine with five bands, remains of two leather straps on fore-edge of lower board, some wear to the upper and lower edges, leather heavily rubbed, but otherwise in very fine condition.  Dimensions 160 x 110 mm.

In an early binding, this is a carefully made Dominican Diurnal with some additions, both in the calendar and to the end of the volume, pointing to the special attention with which it was updated during the century after its production. Evidence points to its copying in Strasbourg when mystical theology flourished among Dominicans in the region. Illustrated with skillful penwork, it includes two large initials with intricate, finely-executed borders, and numerous smaller initials, many with delicate flowers and delightful creatures. 


1. This Diurnal was copied and updated for Dominican use. The prominence of Dominican saints like Peter Martyr and Dominic, both graded totum duplex, in both the calendar and the Sanctorale attests to the Dominican character of the earliest portions of the Breviary, as does the presence of the major commemorations of the Dominican Order, including the anniversaries celebrated on 4 February, 7 July, 5 September, and 10 October.  The addition in later hands of offices for such Dominican saints as Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, and Vincent Ferrer attest to the continued use of this Diurnal by Dominicans.

Internal evidence and decoration both point to the likelihood that the original core of this Diurnal (ff. 1-289) was produced in the first two decades of the fourteenth century in the Upper Rhine region, possibly in Alsace. The contents of the calendar suggest a fairly precise dating of this manuscript: the presence of the feast of Ignatius (1 February) in the calendar with three lections indicates that the calendar was produced in or after 1302, while the initial absence of the feast of Alexius (17 July) from the calendar – his name has been added in a later hand – indicates that this calendar was probably completed in or before 1307. The total absence of Thomas Aquinas from the original Diurnal – his feast is not included in the Sanctorale and his name was added to the calendar in a later hand – further substantiates the early fourteenth-century dating of the earliest part of the manuscript; the original Diurnal must have been finished before 1323, the year that Aquinas was canonized.

The very fine initials in the original portion of the Diurnal bear a notable resemblance to several manuscripts produced in the region at the beginning of the fourteenth century, including Engelberg, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. 6, produced in Engelberg, c. 1300-1320 (Beer, 1959, no. 10); Aarau, Kantonsbibliothek, Ms. Muri 95 (produced in Aargau, at the end of the thirteenth or beginning of the fourteenth century (Beer, 1959, no. 5); and Colmar, Bibliothèque municipale, cod. 308 and 309, produced in Colmar in 1320 and 1323, respectively (Hamburger, 2000, p. 122 and p. 119, fig. 5). The presence in the calendar of such saints as Germanus (Auxerre), Rufus (Metz), Marcellus (Chalon-sur Saône), Leodegar (Autun), and Gall (Germany and Switzerland) also support localization in the Upper Rhine region.

This manuscript bears a striking resemblance to another Dominican Diurnal, Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Acc. No. 09.328 (see “Diurnal (Dominican Use)” in Online Resources). Though not much is known of the Boston manuscript’s early provenance – it was produced in the first half of the fourteenth century – it quite probably originated in the same workshop as the present manuscript around the same time. Notably, both appear to have been produced before the canonization of Thomas Aquinas in 1323 and the saints for whom Office texts are added to the Boston manuscript’s Sanctorale all feature as well in the later additions to the present manuscript.  Further examination of this manuscript alongside the Boston Diurnal would certainly be of interest.

2. An obit for one “Dominus dietericus de bvrchein,” added to the calendar for 8 January in a fourteenth- or fifteenth-century hand (f. 1), connects this Diurnal with Strasbourg where it may have been made, or at least used early in its history.  A Dietherichen von Burchein appears as a guarantor in a Strasbourg document dated 3 November 1292 (see Bühler, no. 279), and he may have been an important benefactor associated with the Dominican house in which this manuscript was first used.  There was a house of Dominican friars in Strasbourg, founded in 1224 and dedicated to Saint Elizabeth (see Krämer, 1989, p. 744), and it is possible that this Diurnal belonged to this house (or to one of the convents of Dominican nuns in Strasbourg, though the book contains no evidence that it was made or adapted for use by a nun).  Notably, Strasbourg was between c. 1314 and 1320 the residence of the Dominican theologian and mystic Meister Eckhart, whose popular but controversial teachings influenced the thinking of Johannes Tauler, who was being educated at the Dominican convent in Strasbourg during this time.

3. Later additions to this Diurnal suggest that it continued to be used by Dominicans in the region of the Upper Rhine for at least two centuries after its production.  Specifically, later additions of prayers for the feasts of Odilia (Alsace and southern Germany), Henry (Bamberg), Servatius (Tongeren), and Martial (Limoges) suggest the Diurnal’s continued use in the same general region.  These additions are interspersed with added texts for the Offices of the feasts of Thomas Aquinas and his translation, Corpus Christi, Eleven Thousand Virgins (made a totum duplex feast by the Dominican General Council in 1423), Vincent Ferrer (canonized in 1455), the Transfiguration (adopted in 1456), and Catherine of Siena (canonized in 1461).


ff. 1-6v, Calendar with entries including Julian, bishop of Le Mans (27 January); “Anniuersarium patrum et matrum” (4 February); Vedast and Amandus (6 February); Albinus, bishop of Angers (1 March); Peter Martyr (29 April, totum duplex); translation of Dominic (24 May, totum duplex); “Anniuersarium omnium in cimiterijs nostris sepultorum” (7 July); Margaret (15 July, festum simplex); Christopher and Cucufas (25 July); Germanus, bishop of Auxerre (31 July); Dominic (5 August, totum duplex); Louis (25 August, festum simplex); Rufus, bishop of Metz (27 August); Marcellus of Chalon-sur-Saône (4 September); “Anniuersarium familiarium et benefactorum nostrorum” (5 September); Cornelius and Cyprian (14 September); Lambert, bishop of Maastricht (17 September); Wenceslaus (28 September); Leodegar, bishop of Autun (2 October); “Anniuersarium omnium fratrum et sororum ordinis nostri” (10 October); Edward the Confessor (13 October); Gall (16 October); Eleven Thousand Virgins (21 October, upgraded in a later hand to a totum duplex); Elizabeth of Thuringia (19 November, upgraded in a later hand to a semi duplex); and Andrew (30 November, in red upgraded in a later hand to a totum duplex), with additions including an obit for “dominus dietericus de burchein” (8 January) and the feasts of Thomas Aquinas (7 March, totum duplex), Servatius (13 May), Martialis (16 June), Alexius (17 June), the dedication of the Virgin (11 October, totum duplex), the Presentation of the Virgin (21 November, totum duplex), Barbara (4 December, in red, festum simplex), and the Sanctification of the Virgin (8 December);

ff. 7-9, incipit, “Libellus iste qui diurnale dicitur eo quod diurnum officium in ipso contineatur continet de diuino officio versibilibus ante laudes per totum annum tam de sanctis quam de tempore cum memoriis suis omnibus et notulis necessariis suis propriis locis insertis continet etiam primam terciam sextam nonam uesperas completorum similiter cum notulis necessariis in propriis locis insertis ... non sunt notate secundum quod in dominica Domine ne in ira”;

A general description of this Diurnal’s contents, followed by a Sunday responsory (f. 7) and prayer (f. 7v) and instruction on when the first Sunday of Advent is placed in the liturgical calendar (f. 8v).

ff. 9-124v, Dominica in aduentu domini sabbato precedenti ad vesperas, antiphona, incipit, “Benedictus. Psalmus. Ipsum. Cetere ad ceteros. Capitulum ... Per octaua et in octaua ad benedictus et ad magnificat antiphonae sicut in die cetera fiant secundum modum octauarum de sanctis”;

Temporale for the day offices, from the first Sunday in Advent to the twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity Sunday, followed by Office texts for the dedication of a church (f. 121v).  This Temporale does not contain texts for the night office of Matins.

ff. 125-216v, In uigilia sancti andree, Capitulum, incipit, “Unus ex duobus qui secuti sunt dominum erat andreas frater symonis petri alleluia ... eius nos tribue meritis adiuuari. Per”;

Sanctorale for the day offices, from the feast of Andrew (30 November) to the feast of Saturninus (29 November).  Notable among the offices included are those for Peter Martyr (f. 150), the translation of Dominic (f. 160), and Dominic (f. 181).

ff. 216v-230v In communi unius apostoli uel plurimorum ad vesperas super psalmo antiphona, incipit, “Estote fortes in bello et pugnate cum antiquo serpente ... V. Media nocte clamor factus est ecce sponsus uenit exite obuiam ei”

Common of Saints for the day offices, followed by antiphons and prayers for the commemorations of confessors (f. 230) and virgins (f. 230v).

ff. 230v-232v, Incipit officium beate marie uirginis in sabbatis ab octaua epiphanie usque ad septuagesimam capitulum, incipit, “Sicut cinamomum. Ymnus. Aue maris stella ... V. Elegit eum. Oratio. Deus qui de beate marie”;

Office texts for the Hours of the Virgin keyed to different parts of the liturgical year: Epiphany to Septuagesima (f. 230v), from Purification to Palm Sunday (f. 231), Easter time (f. 231v), and Advent (f. 232).

ff. 232v-289, In dominicis diebus vesperas, incipit, “Dixit dominus domino meo sede a dextris meis ... et procedens homo sine semine largitus est nobis suam deitatem”;

Ferial Psalter, not following biblical order, but rather for the most part following the order in which the Psalms were used during the daytime hours of the daily Office, from Sunday through Saturday. No Psalms are included for Matins and only one (Psalm 92) is included for Lauds.  The arrangement of Psalms here follows secular rather than monastic use.  Office texts including antiphons, capitula, hymns, and prayers accompany the Psalms.  Also interspersed within the Psalter are the Quicumque vult (f. 248) and Nunc dimittis (f. 285v), and the Psalter ends with Office texts, including three readings, for the Little Office of the Virgin (f. 286).

ff. 289v-337, Later additions:

ff. 289v-290v, Albani martyris oratio, incipit, “Adesto domine supplicationibus nostris ... Sapientia requiescit in corde eius et prudentia in sermone oris illius. Fauus. Gloria”;

Added prayers for the feasts of Alban (f. 289v), Alexius (f. 289v), Louis (f. 289v), Veneslaus (Wenceslaus?) (f. 290), Gall (f. 290), and Wenceslaus (f. 290v), and Office texts for the feast of Ambrose (f. 290v).

f. 291, incipit, “Confiteor deo et beate marie ... et perducat me ad uitam eternam”;

Confiteor and Misereatur.

ff. 291-307, In festo beati thome de aquino ordinis predicatorum super psalmo antiphona, incipit, “Felix thomas doctor ecclesie lumen mundi splendor ytalie ... per amore vicerunt. Et”;

Added Office texts for the feasts (and octaves) of Thomas Aquinas (f. 291) and Corpus Christi (f. 295); prayers for the feasts of Martial and Servatius (f. 300v); Office texts for the feasts of Eleven Thousand Virgins (f. 300v), Angels (f. 302), and the translation of Thomas Aquinas (f. 302v); prayers for the feasts of Barbara (f. 305v), Martial (f. 306; same text as that on f. 300v), Alban (f. 306), Ten Thousand Martyrs (f. 306v), Procopius (f. 306v), and Henry (f. 306v); fragmentary opening of the Office for the feast of Vincent Ferrer (f. 307); prayer for the feast of Leonard (f. 307); and Office texts for the feast of Denis (f. 307).

f. 307v, incipit, “O florens uirga aaron summus beauit [sic] salomon ... fac nos penitere ex tua mera gratia”;

Antiphon from the feast of the Conception of the Virgin.

ff. 308-319v, incipit, “Diem noue laudis et glorie letum ducat cetus fidelium ... ad tui nominis peruenimus agnitionem. Per dominum”;

Office texts for the feasts of Vincent Ferrer (f. 308), Catherine of Siena (f. 311v), Anne (f. 314v), and the Transfiguration (f. 316), and prayers for the feasts of Appollonia (f. 319), Odilia (f. 319v), and the Division of the Apostles (f. 319v).

f. 319v, Oratio, incipit, “Refecti intalibus [sic] alimentis quesumus domine deus noster ... in mortalitatis tue munere consequamur. Per”;

Prayer to be said after communion in the Holy Thursday Mass.

f. 320, incipit, “Gregem tuum quesumus pastor eterne custodi ... semper tuere presidijs. Per”; f. 320v, blank but ruled;

Prayer for the feast of Anthony.

ff. 321-337, In festo visitacionis beate marie uirginis ad vesperas super psalmo antiphona, incipit, “Colletentur corda fidelium uirgo mater concepto filio ... V. Fuit homo missus a deo cui nomen iohannes erat. Qui. Gloria”;

Added Office texts for the Visitation (f. 321), the Eleven Thousand Virgins (f. 325), Elizabeth (f. 328), the translation of Thomas Aquinas (f. 331), Dominic (f. 331v), and John the Baptist (f. 333). In the case of the latter three, the added Office texts are specifically for the night office of Matins.

f. 337, incipit, “Deus qui fidelissimo patriarche ioseph incomparabilem thesaurum tue genitricis beatemarie semper uirginis seruandum tradisti ... et corda nostra tibi casta tabernacula preparare. Qui uiuis. [f. 337v, blank but ruled].

Prayer for the feast of Joseph.

This volume is a carefully produced Dominican Diurnal with some additions, both in the calendar and to the end of the volume, pointing to the attention with which it was updated by multiple early owners.

The Breviary, like the Missal, consists of a combination of various liturgical books, in this case pertaining to the Divine Office, within a single volume. 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).  As this is a Dominican book, it follows secular rather than monastic use.  The manuscript does not include the texts for the night office of Matins, and can thus be considered a Diurnal.  

The terminology used during the Middle Ages for liturgical books is always of interest; this volume begins with a rubric on f. 7 explaining what this volume contains, and why it is called a Diurnal.  Another Diurnal, now Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek, Cod. Donaueschingen 319, begins with an identical rubric, suggesting the two manuscripts must be closely related (Barack, 1865; we thank Dr. Annika Stello for providing us with images about this manuscript, which is not yet digitized).

 The additions to the original Diurnal (ff. 1-289) trace developments in the Dominican liturgy over the course of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.  Most of the additions to this volume integrate new or expanded Offices for feast days of particular importance.  Some of these feasts emerged shortly after the Diurnal’s production, as in the case of Thomas Aquinas, who was canonized in 1323, or the feast of Corpus Christi, which saw wide acceptance in the early fourteenth century. Other additions, such as the Offices for the feasts of Vincent Ferrer or Catherine of Siena, could not have been made before the second half of the fifteenth century (see above, in Provenance). Notably, though most additions to the Diurnal sustain its original focus on the daytime offices, some late additions begin to supplement the book with texts for Matins as well (see ff. 331-337).


Barack, K. A.  Die handschriften der Fürstlich-Fürstenbergischen hofbibliothek zu Donaueschingen. Geordnet und beschrieben von dr. K. A. Barack ..., Tübingen, 1865.

Beer, Ellen J. Beiträge zur Oberrheinischen Buchmalerei in der ersten Hälfte des 14. Jahrhunderts unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Initialornamentik, Basel, Birkhäuser, 1959.

Bonniwell, William R. A History of the Dominican Liturgy, 1215-1945, New York, Joseph F. Wagner, 1945.

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.

Hamburger, Jeffrey F. “La bibliothèque d’Unterlinden et l’art de la formation spirituelle,” trans. Pierre-Antoine Fabre, in Les dominicaines d’Unterlinden, vol. 1, Colmar, Musée d’Unterlinden, 2000, pp. 110-159.

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.

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

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

Leroquais, Victor. Les bréviaires manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France, vol. 1, Paris, 1934.

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

Online Resources

Bühler, Christoph. “I. Regesten bis 1300,” Geroldsecker Regesten: Regesten der Urkunden des Hauses und der Herrschaft Geroldseck

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

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

“Diurnal (Dominican Use),” Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 2015

Mandonnet, Pierre. “Order of Preachers, The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 12, New York, 1911

TM 835