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les Enluminures

Franciscan Breviary for Day Offices

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
France, Paris, c. 1250, with a Trier calendar, c. 1255-1260

TM 276

Parchment, well prepared, but not very thin, with some variation in thickness, ff. i + 247 folios, modern foliation in pencil, top outer corner recto: I – VIII, followed by 1-239 (collation, i8 [-1 and 2 before f. I], ii2 [through f. VII], iii12 [beginning with f. 1], iv-xx12, xxi6 [-5 and 6 following f. 220, stubs remain], xxii8 [-1 and 2 before f. 221, stubs remain], xxiii8 xxiv8 [-6, 7 and 8 following f. 239]), a few leaf signatures remain, small letters, bottom, outer corner, for example, f. 27 “c,” and ff. 121-126, “a-f,” written below the top line in an early gothic bookhand in one column of 18-20 lines, ruled in lead with full-length single vertical bounding lines, and the top and bottom lines full across (usually too faint to see), prickings in three outer margins on many folios (justification 70-67 x 46 mm.), two-line initials, alternately red and blue, with pen work in the opposite color, one-line initials, alternately red and blue, red rubrics, liturgical directions underlined in red. VERY FINE EARLY DECORATED LEATHER BINDING, bound in Germany in the fifteenth century (?) in brown leather over rounded wooden boards, flush with the book block, tooled in blind with double fillets forming a central panel and border, and single diagonal fillets in the center panel, upper cover is worn, still discernible are small stamps including fleur-de-lis, small floral stamps, and possibly a name, “Iordanus (?),” lower board now covered with modern blind-stamped leather in the same style; sewn on four double bands, spine (repaired?) with four raised bands, two brass fasteners, closing back to front, in excellent condition. Dimensions 110 x 77 mm.

The manuscript is an extremely important early example of a Franciscan Breviary in a fine medieval blind-stamped binding. Surviving thirteenth-century breviaries are relatively uncommon. Moreover, this breviary is Franciscan, and its importance to historians of the liturgy can hardly be exaggerated, since it was copied very soon after the adoption of the liturgy of the Roman Curia and the reforms of the liturgy introduced by Haymo of Faversham in the 1240s.


1.The script and decoration of this Breviary clearly suggest that it was copied in Paris around the middle of the thirteenth century. The text of the Sanctorale, which includes the Franciscan feasts of Francis, as well as his translation, and Anthony of Padua, lacks the feasts of Peter Martyr, observed in the Franciscan liturgy from 1254, and Clare, observed from 1255; the Office for Clare, however, was added to the manuscript early in its history (see ff. 217-220v), perhaps even while it was being made. Its date makes this manuscript a potentially important document for the history of the Franciscan liturgy during the early years following the adoption of the liturgy of the Roman Curia and the reforms of Haymo of Faversham in the 1240s.

The calendar, in contrast, which is closely contemporary with remainder of the manuscript, was clearly written for a Franciscan of Trier, and is datable ca. 1255 and possibly before 1260. Franciscan feasts in the calendar include the translation of Francis, in red, 25 May, Anthony of Padua, in red, 13 June (with octave in red), Clare, in red, 12 August, and Francis, 4 October, in red (with octave). The calendar includes a number of feasts linking the manuscript to Trier, including Simeon of Trier, 1 June, and a number of bishops of Trier: Valerius, in red, 27 January; Maximinus, in red, 29 May; Paulinus, in red, 31 August; and Eucharius, in red, 8 December. The feasts included in the calendar prove that it must date after 1255, since it includes Peter martyr, 29 May, who was canonized in 1254, and Clare, 12 August, who was canonized in 1255. It may possibly date from before 1260: feasts added in a later hand include the Stigmata of Francis, 16 September, and the translation of Clare, 2 October, both observed in the Franciscan Order from 1260; also added are the Visitation, here on 3 July, usually 2 July, observed from 1263, and Louis of Toulouse, 19 August, canonized in 1317.

This breviary was made in Paris, perhaps for a Friar studying there, but ultimately intended for his use at the Franciscan House in Trier. The Franciscans were in Trier very early, probably as early as 1225 (see Th. Hans-Joachim Schmidt, Bettelorden in Trier, Trier, 1986, 32-33, and John B. Freed, The Friars and German Society in the Thirteenth Century, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1977, 29 and 192).

2. Additions to the calendar indicate that the manuscript was still used by Franciscans in the fifteenth century; the latest feast is that of Bernardinus, 20 May, who was canonized in 1450.

3. Private ownership, Germany.


ff. I-VIII, (added, fifteenth century) Office of Prime;

ff. 1-12v, Calendar; entries in the original hand, agree with van Dijk, 1963, vol. 2, pp. 365-384, with the following additional entries: Valerius episcopus, in red (27 January); Peter predicatores (29 May), Maximus episcopus, in red (29 May), Symeonis conf. “celebre” (1 June), “Divisio apostolorum” in red (15 August), Paulinus, ep., in red (31 August), Willobrodus, ep., in red (7 November), and Eucharius ep., in red (8 December). Later additions (not in SMRL) include: Dorothy (6 February), Appollonia (9 February), translation of Anthony (15 February), Thomas Aquinas (here 6 March, usually 7), Quirinus (30 April), Gangolf (11 May), Servatius (13 May), Bernardinus (21 May), Visitation (3 July), Louis of Toulouse (19 August), Stigmata of Francis, duplex maius (16 August), translation of Clare (2 October), translation of Louis of Toulouse (8 November), “Dedicatio b. s (9 November), “dedicatio Petri et Pauli” (18 November), and Conception of Mary (9 December);

ff. 13-125v, Temporale from the first Sunday in Advent to the twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost; includes day offices only (Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, and Vespers); hymns are not noted; ff. 45-55, following the first Sunday after the octave of Epiphany, offices of Compline and Prime, with psalms;

ff. 125v-185, Sanctorale from Saturninus to Katherine, including the translation of Francis (f. 144v, 25 May), Anthony of Padua (f. 145v, 13 June), and Francis (f. 173, 4 October);

ff. 185-211, Common of Saints, ending with a prayer to Saint Elizabeth (f. 196v); followed by the hymn for the Dedication of a Church, then the ferial offices for Vespers, with psalms included for the offices for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, concluding with the remainder of the office for the Dedication of a Church;

ff. 211v-216v, In anno in quo nativitas domini in dominica venerit …; Parisian Tables of antiphons, as in SMRL 2:401-408;

ff. 217-220v, [added in two thirteenth-century hands] Offices of Saints Clement and Clare; [f. 221 blank];

f. 221v-226v, [added, thirteenth century] Hymns for the common of saints, not noted, including apostles, one martyr, and many martyrs, ending imperfectly;

ff. 227-228v, [Readings added in a current hand, fourteenth-fifteenth century];

ff. 229-239v, [added, fifteenth century; same hand as ff. I-VIII] Offices of Terce, Sext and None.

Breviaries include the text of the Divine Office, prayers said throughout the day and night at the Offices of Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, Compline and Matins. This manuscript does not include the night office of Matins, and thus can be considered a Diurnale. Compline is also omitted throughout most of the Temporale and Sanctorale, although part of the common of Compline is found interpolated within the Temporale. Since it does not include the text of the longest office, Matins, and omits the Psalter, its text was easily compressed into a small, portable format, without the compression of the script or the very thin parchment characteristic of later portable breviaries.

The saints included in the calendar and the Sanctorale, as well as the inclusion of the Parisian table of antiphons (ff. 211v-216v), betray its Franciscan origin. As discussed above, the calendar was clearly made for Trier, and it can be dated after 1255 and possibly before 1260. The text of the Sanctorale does not include the saints particular to Trier, and lacks the feasts of Peter Martyr and Clare. The Office for Clare was added to the manuscript early in its history (see ff. 217-220v), perhaps even while it was being made. Its date makes this manuscript a potentially important document for the history of the Franciscan liturgy during the early years following the adoption of the liturgy of the Roman Curia and the reforms of Haymo of Faversham in the 1240s.

The First Order of the Friars Minor dates from 1209, when St. Francis obtained approval of the rule he had composed. The Second Order (the foundation of the Poor Clares) dates from 1212. The year 1221 is traditionally given as the date of the foundation of the Third Order, the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, the Tertiaries. Haymo of Faversham (died in Italy, c. 1243), an English Franciscan and schoolman, was responsible for revision of the Roman Breviary under the direction of Pope Gregory IX, which was “published” in 1241, the date the Church officially approved it. Our manuscript from the decade of the 1250s thus dates just after Haymo’s revision and is still within the second generation of the evolution of the Franciscan Order.


The manuscript is sparsely decorated, but does include very competent pen initials, alternately red and blue, with simple pen flourishes in the opposite color; initials are similar to the type illustrated in Patricia Stirnemann, “Fils de la vierge. L’initiale à filigranes parisienne: 1140-1314,” Revue de l’art 90 (1990), 70, cat. nos. 40 and 41


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

Moorman, John. A History of the Franciscan Order from its Origin to the Year 1517, Oxford, 1968.

Plummer, John. Liturgical Manuscripts for the Mass and Divine Office, New York: Pierpont Morgan Library, 1964.

Salmon, Pierre. The Breviary through the Centuries, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1962.

van Dijk, S.J.P., ed. Sources of the Modern Roman Liturgy: The Ordinals of Haymo of Faversham and Related Documents, 1243-1307, 2 vols. Leiden, 1963.

van Dijk, S. J. P. and J. Hazelden Walker. The Origins of the Roman Liturgy. The Liturgy of the Papal Court and the Franciscan Order in the Thirteenth Century, Westminster, Maryland, 1960.

Online resources

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

The Franciscan Order:

The History of the Breviary:
www.newadvent.org/cathen/02768b.htm (Catholic Encyclopedia, “Breviary”)

“The Roman Breviary” (text of modern Roman Breviary in Latin and English, with historical introduction):