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les Enluminures

Missal for Major Feasts

In Latin, illustrated manuscript on parchment
Germany, diocese of Eichstätt(?), c. 1375-1400

TM 436

54 ff. and original parchment paste-downs (collation: i8-2 first two leaves missing, ii-v12), foliated 1-54 in 20th-century pencil, superseding the original partial foliation in red ink roman numerals i-xxxxii on the present ff. 7-48, ruled in plummet with the single verticals ruled the full height and the top two and bottom two horizontals ruled the full width of the page (justification: c. 170 x 115mm), for 24 lines of text written in two sizes of gothic script according to liturgical function in dark grey ink, rubrics in red, capitals stroked in red, one- and two-line initials alternately red or blue in the Canon of the Mass, two- and three-line initials in red often with simple ornament throughout the masses, one four-line initial in red with pen-work ornament at the beginning of the Canon, a full-page miniature of the Crucifixion, facing the start of the Canon, the upper outer corner of f.1 missing, affecting the extremity of the miniature, a small area of the margin of f. 29 missing, not affecting the text, some original flaws in the parchment and normal signs of age, slit-and-tab book-marks at the fore-edge at ff.2, 7, 25, 43, 45. CONTEMPORARY BINDING, sewn on five double cords laced into thick wood boards with slightly bevelled edges projecting only slightly beyond the leaves, using fragments of a 13th(?)-century manuscript as a spine-lining, visible through holes in both the front and back board coverings of undecorated dark red-brown skin (originally dark pink, as still visible on the turn-ins of the back board), the fore-edge of the front board with two nail-holes in a recess for a clasp-fitting, and with a hole in the centre of the back board for a corresponding pin, with no exterior markings (nor traces that any have been removed), preserving the original paste-downs and in remarkable unrestored condition. Dimensions 230 x 160 mm.

An example of a comparatively rare type of book: a portable volume containing masses for major feasts of the kind used by priests when away from their own church. Liturgical and textual clues suggest it was made to enable a priest to officiate at mass at a nunnery perhaps in the area of Eichstätt. The volume’s main appeal is threefold: it is signed both by its original scribe and by a later one, it is prefaced by a fine full-page miniature, and it is in its original unrestored binding.


1. Written by the scribe Iohann Stör, with his rhyming colophon: ‘Qui me scribebat Iohannes Stoer nomen habebat’ (f. 53). He is not recorded by the Bénédictines du Bouveret, Colophons. The only liturgical clue to the origin of the manuscript is the presence among the major universal church feasts of texts for a mass of St. Walburga, an 8th-century abbess of Heidenheim in Bavaria whose relics were transferred to Eichstätt in the 9th century, and whose main feast (still widely celebrated in Germany on “Walpurgisnacht”) is on 1 May. In addition to Walburga, the principal saint of the Benedictine Kloster Heidenheim was St. Wunibald, who does not appear in this manuscript, so it is more likely that the book comes from the vicinity either of Eichstätt, where the Benedictine nunnery was dedicated to Walburga alone, or this nunnery’s daughter-house at Hersfeld. Although only (male) priests could perform mass, the manuscript’s use for the benefit of a female community is suggested by the original and added masses for deceased women (f. 54r-v).

2. Additions were made by the scribe Adam Offemburg (who was presumably from Offenburg, a few miles south-east of Strasbourg), with a rhyming colophon based on Iohannes Stör’s: “Qui me scribebat Adam Offemburg nomen habebat” (f. 54v).

3. Owned in the 15th century by Martin de Barmacia, vicar of Montjovet (about 15 miles east of Aosta), with his ownership inscription “Iste liber est michi v d martino de barmacia vicario montis joueti quam Ihesum benediccat [sic] amen” (twice, upper pastedown) and his name and paraph repeated several times (upper pastedown and f. 54v).

4. Recorded during the first half of the 19th century in the Biblioteca della Collegiata di Sant’Orso, Aosta, by Bethmann (see Literature, below), but it had presumably already left the library by the 1890s because the descriptions by Ebner and subsequent writers all seem to depend on Bethmann rather than first-hand examination. Bethmann was compiling comprehensive lists, but Ebner was specifically interested in missals: if the manuscript had been available for examination in the early 1890s, one might expect Ebner to have provided more details, and to have realised that the main scribe was not Adam Offemburg but Iohann Stör.

5. Private European Collection.


Upper pastedown, table of contents referring to the medieval foliation, headed “Registrum,” beginning with “In principio Canonum / De beata Maria [f.] 1 / Commune sanctorum / …,” and ending “De corpore Christi [f.] 44,” but omitting mention of Walburga (see below);

f. 1, the end of a series of prefaces, beginning imperfectly in the Common Preface [Per Christum Dominum nostrum: per quem majestatem tuam laudant Angeli …] at “beata seraphin [sic] soci[a] exultatione concelebrant …,” followed by the Sanctus, the end of which has been erased and re-written by the scribe who also added the second Gloria on f. 6r-v;

f. 1, added preface with rubric “Prefacio de sancta Cruce”;

f. 1v, full-page minature;

ff. 2-6, Canon of the mass;

f. 6, added Gloria;

f. 6r-v, added Gloria with rubric “De beata virgine,” the last several lines of which are erased.

ff. 7-29, Masses for the Virgin Mary, the Common of saints, Trinity, Cross, Holy Spirit, angels, the dedication of a church, the dead during Easter-tide, those who lie in the cemetery, one’s father and mother, charity, and wisdom, with rubric “Hic incipiunt speciales misse. Primo de beata virgine Marie.,” text incipit “Salva sancta parens …”;

ff. 29-45v, Sanctoral of major feast days, from St. Andrew (30 November) to All Saints (1 November). The feast of Sts. Philip and James (ff. 36-37) is intermixed with two readings for a mass of St. Walburga and one of St. Sigmund (all three feasts fell on the same day, 1 May); the first secret is for Philip and James, the second for Sigmund: “Hostias tibi domine beatorum martyrum sigmundi sociorumque eius …,” and the third for Walburga: “Sacrificium oblatum quesumus domine intercessio virginis walpurge …” (a similar mass for Walburga survives on a single leaf described in Mittelalterliche lateinische Handschriftenfragmente in Gyõr, 1998, pp. 192-3);

ff. 45v-51v, Masses for Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, and Corpus Christi;

ff. 51v-53, the Blessing and Exorcism of salt and water;

ff. 53v-54, Votive masses for the congregation, for lay-people, for priests, and for women;

f. 54v, Two added votive masses: the first in an informal cursive hand, for a deceased woman, with preface, secret, and post-communion, incipit: “Quesumus domine pro tua pietate miserere anime famule tue …”; the other in a formal book-hand with rubric “Pro tempestate,” incipit: “A domo tua quesumus domine …,” which is possibly related to the fact that St. Walburga was the patron saint of storms (particularly at sea);

Lower pastedown, added votive mass for Peace, incipit: “Deus a quo sancta et desideria et recta …” (a preface, secret, and post-communion as printed in H. J. Lawlor, ed., The Rosslyn Missal: An Irish Manuscript in the Advocates Library, Edinburgh, London, 1899, pp. 87-88); followed by an added prayer, incipit: “Inclina domine aurem tuam ad preces nostras ….”


The majority of the volume has rather plain decoration, of red initials with simple ornament. This is in contrast to the very fine full-page miniature of the Crucifixion, the standard image facing the start of the Canon of the mass in missals. The image is powerfully emotive: Christ’s body is depicted bleeding profusely (his blood and flesh being appropriate themes for the text of the mass), while his mother stands to one side, eyes downcast in grief, and St John stands to the other holding a book and apparently with his eyes closed (or weeping?). There is little to distract the viewer’s attention from the central image: there is no landscape nor sun and moon, as often found in such images, and only a simple geometric frame surrounds the image on three sides.


Amiet, Robert. Repertorium liturgicum Augustanum: Les témoins de la liturgie du diocèse d’Aoste, Monumenta liturgica ecclesiae Augustanae, 1-2 (Aosta, 1974), see especially vol. II, pp. 469-72, listing manuscripts no longer at Aosta.

Bethmann, Ludwig. “Reise durch Deutschland und Italien, in den Jahren 1844. 1845. 1846. von Herrn Dr. Bethmann,” Archiv für ältere deutsche Geschichtskunde, 9 (1847), pp. 627-36, at p. 631: “mbr. 4 s. XV ex. Missale. In fine “Qui me scribebat, Adam Offemburgensis nomen habebat et in tegumento. ‘Iste liber est mihi Martino de Varmatia vicario de Montis Ioveti’.”

Ebner, Adalbert. Quellen und Forschungen zur Geschichte und Kunstgeschichte des Missale Romanum im Mittelalter (Freiburg, 1894), p. 3: “Missale, mbr. 4o s. XV ex. Geschrienben durch Adam von Offenburg.”

Frutaz, Amato Pietro. Le fonti per la storia della Valle d’Aosta, Thesaurus ecclesiarum Italiae, I, Piemonte, 1, Rome, 1966, pp. 73-79, at p. 76, reprinting Bethmann’s description.

Online resources

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