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les Enluminures

Ferial Psalter (use of the diocese of Salzburg)

In Latin, with some German, illuminated manuscript on parchment
[Austria (Tyrol), likely Trent, c. 1350]

TM 208

272 ff. [ ff. 1-8 on paper inserted later in the 15th c. + ff. 9-13 (calendar) with one folio numbered 10bis], on parchment, mostly very regular quires of 12 (likely lacking last quire [collation: i6, ii-xxii12, xxiii6]), written in an angular German gothic liturgical script close to Fraktur, in brown ink, on up to 16 long lines (justification:80 x 55 mm), ruled in brown ink, contemporary quire signatures in red, rubrics in red, numerous painted capitals to versals in alternating red or blue, numerous 2-line high painted initials in red or blue, 2 to 3-line high painted parti-colored initial in red and blue with red and blue calligraphic penwork extending in the margin (f. 67, 86), 4 to 6-line high painted initials in blue and red with ajouré foliate motifs, decorated with elaborate red and blue calligraphic penwork animated by various anthropomorphic and zoomorphic penned drawings highlighted in green wash (ff. 46v, 106, 132v, 156v), 2 HISTORIATED OR ANIMATED INITIALS with painted initials in blue or pink with white tracery and elaborately painted ascenders and descenders with diverse bestiary, zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures in the margin (some cropped), other painted initials in blue or red (ff. 15v and 182v), added handcolored engraving pasted onto front pastedown: “S. Christophore Patrone pestis, ora pro nobis” signed “t.m. fe[cit]”, engraving surrounded by annotations in German, some contemporary marginal corrections or addenda, scattered later 17th c. annotations in calendar and in margins, in Latin or German. Bound in a German sixteenth-century binding (Southern Germany, likely last quarter of the century, probably bound when the manuscript entered the Abbey of Saint-Walburga, late 16th c.) of pigskin over beveled wooden boards, back sewn on three raised thongs, boards with frame of triple blind filets and blind roll of busts of male figures in outer compartment, central compartment with blind roll of volutes and foliate motifs, brass and leather clasps intact, edges blue-green, red-died leather finding tabs (Some repairs to parchment, never affecting text, margins cropped when rebound in the sixteenth century; binding in sound condition). Dimensions 125 x 90 mm

Franciscan monastic Psalter from a little-known region of the Tyrol and with unusual illumination of great charm probably made for, and perhaps by, nuns. Two centuries after its fabrication, the manuscript was found in the well-known Abbey of Saint-Walburga in Bavaria (Eichstätt), where it was frequently annotated, attesting to its continuous use through the seventeenth century.


1. Script, decoration and calendar with saints from Trent: in particular Vigilii ep. m. (saint Vigil, bishop of Trent, 26 June), Viviane or Bibiane (2 December), Melchiadus (10 Dec) (see Grotefend, 1892, vol. II, pp. 183-187), all pointing to a place of production in the town of Trent in the diocese of Salzburg (Austrian Tyrol). Equally noteworthy are the Franciscan saints and feasts: Francis, Clare, Dedication of Peter and Paul (November). Trent was part of Aquileia until 1363 when it became part of the diocese of Salzburg in the Tyrol.

2. Dated notation on folio 147, with text in German: “Anno 1590 geporn zu münchen meines vatters…”; and again, dated notation on folio 166v: “Anno domini 1604…in S[ancta] W[alburga] kume[n].” Owned by the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey of Saint-Walburga, in Eichstätt (Bavaria), prior to (circa 1590) and during the Thirty-Year War when the Abbey was burned by Swedish troops. In 1634 the Abbess Helena Gross of Trockau and other nuns were kidnapped by soldiers and held for ransom. Church valuables were sold to obtain their release. Abbess Helena then worked tirelessly for the rebuilding of the destroyed cloister. Its calendar is considerably annotated in the seventeenth century and used to record obituaries for various figures, essentially female nuns, named and placed in calendar accompanied with the death date: “1633. Obiit Anna Angermayin (?) monialis” (January); “1634. Obiit Magdalena Hiiipsyn (?) mo[nialis]” (January); “1634. Obiit Walpurga Menkingerin (?) prioressa” (January); “Anno 1624 die 12 maii obiit Reus (?) Dominus magister Leonhardus Gentner confessor et brebendaris S. W. V.” (April); “1638. Obiit Barbara Humblin (?) donata” (September); “Georgius Gebel confessor ab sancta W[alpurga]” (November). A closer confrontation with the necrology of the Abbey of Saint-Walpurga as well as a complete transcription of this calendar could prove to be interesting in identifying key seventeenth-century figures in the Abbey.

3. Dr. Jean Chavaillon Collection, physician and pharmacist (died c. 2002), France.


ff. 1-8v, Added antiphons and hymns [16th century], beginning with Excerpt from the Epistle of saint Paul to the Hebrews: “Qui venturus est veniet et non tardabit…”;

ff. 9-13v, Calendar, in red and brown ink, with painted blue initials: Vigil (26 June), Bibiane (2 December), Melchiadus (10 December), Kunegundis (3 March); Leodegarii fundatoris comes (added in February); Obitus S. Walpurgis virginis (added feast in the later sixteenth century) (Feast of Saint Walpurga, February 25);

ff. 14-15, Psalm 94: “Venite exultemus domino jubilemus…”, rubric: Invita […]; rubric: Ad nocturna ym[nus]; “Primo dierum omnium quo…”

ff. 15v-248, Eight-fold division of the Psalter introducing the first group of Psalms, as follows:

f. 15v, “Beatus vir qui non abiit in consilio…”;

f. 46v, "Dominus illuminacio mea et salus mea" (Psalm 26, Feria II);

f. 67, "Dixi custodiam vias meas" (Psalm 38, Feria III);

f. 86, "Dixit insipiens in corde suo" (Psalm 52, Feria IV);

f. 106, "Salvum me fac" (Psalm 68, Feria V);

f. 132v, "Exultate Deo adjutori nostro" (Psalm 80, Feria VI);

f. 156v, "Cantate Domino canticum novum" (Psalm 97, Sabbatum);

f . 182v, "Dixit Dominus" (Psalm 109, Vespers);

ff. 248-252v, Litanies;

ff. 252v-258v, Miscellaneous prayers and hymns;

ff. 258v-271v, Prayer on the Sacrament, incipit, Pange lingua gloriosi corporis …; followed by other prayers and hymns [lacking last folios].

The core of the manuscript includes the text of the Ferial Psalter, without notation, used in the Divine Office. It is made up of the 150 psalms of the Old Testament, so divided throughout the seven days of the week that all the psalms are recited in one week. The psalms, the divinely-inspired poetical prayers, principally of King David, have always been the center of the Church's liturgical worship, just as they were at the temple during Old Testament times. The eight-fold Psalter evolves from the earlier three-fold division dividing the Psalter into three parts containing fifty Psalms each, and it anticipates the devotions of the Book of Hours divided into eight hours of the day, with the Psalms arranged throughout the hours and accompanied by antiphons, responses, readings, etc.


ff. 15v-16, historiated initial B, divided in upper register with King David and lower register with two figures conversing;

f. 132v, initial E, with heads of male and female figures;

f. 156v, initial C, with crowned female figure pointing;

f. 182v, initial D, with zoomorphic figure and rinceaux.

Five historiated and animated initials with penwork and marginal illumination are of great charm and provide evidence for monastic production in a little-known region in the fourteenth century.


Grotefend, H. Zeitrechnung des deutschen Mittelalters und der Neuziet…, Aalen, 1984 [reprint Hannover ed., 1892].

Leroquais, V. Les Psautiers manuscrits latins des bibliothèques publiques de France, 3 vols., Paris/ Mâcon, 1940-41.

Online resources

Abbey of Saint-Walburga:

Abbey of Saint-Walburga:

Parallel Latin-English text of the Psalter (Vulgate and Douay versions)