TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Franciscan Miscellany: [ANONYMOUS], Moral Florilegium; [ANONYMOUS], Alphabetical Distinction Collection; SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI, Regula bullata (imperfect), and Admonitiones; THOMAS OF CELANO (?), Vita et miraculi sancti Francisci [related to the Legenda S. Francisci liturgica breviarii minoritici Vaticani and the Umbrian Legend]; PSEUDO-METHODIUS, Revelationes; Vulgate Bible: Job, Zacharias, and Matthew; and numerous other short texts and excerpts

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Italy, c. 1235-1260

TM 686

122 folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil top outer corner recto, incorrectly foliated 1-78, 80-123, lacking at least eight leaves (collation i8 ii10 iii12 iv12 [missing one leaf, 7, following f. 35, missing two leaves, 11 and 12, following f. 39, 4, f. 34, loose, and 5, f. 35, detached), v8 vi12 [missing one leaf, 2, following f. 48] vii10 viii10 [through f. 78] ix8 [beginning f. 80, missing two leaves, 3, following f. 81, and 7, following f. 84] x-xii10 xiii10 [missing two leaves, 1, before f. 116, and 8, following f. 123, 7, f. 123, fragmentary]), horizontal catchwords lower middle margin in quires ten and eleven, no signatures, layout varies, ff. 1-12v, ruled very lightly in lead with single full-length vertical bounding lines (ruling often indiscernible, but cf. f. 6v) (justification 89-95 x 67-69 mm.), written below the top line in an upright early gothic noting script (straight s slightly below line, simple tear-drop a) by one scribe in 34-42-40 long lines, red paragraph marks, majuscules stroked with red, written under the top line; ff. 13-19, ruled in lead (or brown crayon), with full-length vertical bounding lines, and horizontal rules extending past bounding line, prickings outer margin (justification 104-95 x 68 mm.), written below the top line in a very small upright gothic bookhand, 44-46 long lines, majuscules stroked with red; ff. 19-39v, ruling indiscernible (ruled in hardpoint, or with a very hard lead that left no trace), prickings outer margin on many folios (justification 105-92 x 70-68 mm.), written below the top line in an early gothic noting hand in 49-36 long lines, majuscules and paragraph marks highlighted in red, red rubrics; ff. 40-43, more formally copied: ruled very lightly in lead, prickings in three outer margins, (justification 83 x 62-60 mm.), written under the top line in an upright gothic bookhand in 35 long lines, majuscules touched with red, red rubrics, guide letters for the initials, one-line red initials; ff. 43-51, ruling usually indiscernible, but apparently ruled in lead (see f. 44v), prickings outer margins (justification 102-84 x 66-65-60 mm.), written apparently below the top line in a gothic bookhand in 43-34 long lines by several scribes, changes of scribe at f. 46v, 48, 49, majuscules touched with red, red rubrics; ff. 51v-68v, ruled in lead, usually very lightly but more visibly and with two rows of prickings in the outer margin, ff. 63-68 (justification 103-95 x 69-62 mm.), written in a gothic book hand below the top line in 59-45 long lines by several scribes, with changes of hand for example at f. 55, mid folio, and f. 57, line four, majuscules and paragraph marks daubed in red, red rubric (f. 54); ff. 69-115v, ruled visibly ruled in lead with the top two, middle two, and bottom two horizontal rules full across on some pages, single vertical bounding lines, sometimes double in the inner margin, prickings in the outer margin through f. 97, and often in the upper and lower margins (justification 94-92 x 62 mm.), copied above the top line through f. 79v, and then usually below the top line, in a quick gothic bookhand in 42 to 40 long lines by many scribes, red rubrics, majuscules touched with red, two- to three-line red initials (some with decorative blank spaces within the initials) with black pen decoration; ff. 116-123v, ruled in lead, full length single vertical bounding lines (justification 87 x 55 mm.), copied below the top line by one scribe in a very small but precise gothic bookhand in 49 long lines, majuscules in the text stroked in red, red running titles and one-line initials, a few with red pen decoration; numerous original imperfections in the parchment and blank spaces where the parchment was too poor to use, e.g. f. 31v, hole and very thin parchment, with several lines left blank, f. 32v, offcut, rather darkened, with large section left blank; f. 55v, top outer corner left blank (and framed in lead), f. 58rv, large blank spaces, ff. 32, 33, 51, 53, 55, 56, 103 and 104 are offcuts, f. 1, darkened, abraded, and largely illegible, some stains on lower portion of text through f. 8v (text remains legible), stains in upper lines, ff. 30v-31, water stain upper margin, affecting top line of text f. 31, f. 34, partially detached, and f. 35, detached, ff. 36v-39v, water stain upper margin, affecting top two lines or so, ff. 116v-119v, extensive stain, ff. 120-121v, still legible, upper margin with bite taken out of it, affecting text on ff. 120-end, dark stain, lower corner, ff. 111-end, f. 122 rubbed and abraded, most of f. 123 now missing, with the top quarter only surviving, edges darkened. Sewn on three double bands with head and tail bands (head band partially detached), but lacking front and back covers. Dimensions 120 x c. 82 mm.

This tiny Franciscan manuscript is a remarkable survival. Physically it is the embodiment of the Franciscan love of poverty, written in almost microscopic scripts crammed densely on each page. Its contents are equally remarkable. Textually, the inclusion of hitherto unknown life of St. Francis is of the utmost importance and will surely yield critical new insights into the early history of the order and the earliest lives of the saint.  Dozens of remaining texts, even including books of the Bible, offer further research possibilities as reflections of the intellectual interests of the early friars.


1. Written in Italy in the thirteenth century around the middle of the century, possibly as early as c. 1235, and almost certainly before 1260. Evidence of the script and decoration generally support the early end of this date range (parts of the manuscript were copied above the top ruled line), but additional research on the texts included is needed to be certain. Franciscan manuscripts from this time period are not common, and are all of interest. The manuscript was certainly produced in a Franciscan house for use by the friars there; it is a collective product, produced by numerous scribes, who copied the numerous texts with varying degrees of formality. The identification of the particular house where it was made is important, and should be investigated further; unfortunately there is no external evidence of its original provenance remaining, since it lacks both front and back covers and flyleaves.

Establishing the date of this manuscript also depends on the date of the texts it contains. Particularly important in this regard is the exact relationship between the life and miracles of St. Francis on ff. 69-84v, and two related texts, the Umbrian Legend, datable between 1235-1253, but probably between 1237 and 1244 (possibly before the deposition of Elias of Cortona in 1239), and the Legenda S. Francisci liturgica breviarii minoritici Vaticani, still little-studied, but dated before 1260. It is possible that the Vita in our manuscript drew on both these sources, and thus dates after these two texts, but it is also possible that the text in our manuscript is in fact earlier, and the source for the two other texts. Scholarly conclusions on this point, so important for our understanding of early Franciscan sources, will also be important evidence for the date of the manuscript described here.

We may also note that the chapter divisions found in the three books of the Bible included here tend to support a date closer to c. 1240 than c. 1260. They are all divided according to older systems of chapter divisions, with modern chapter divisions added in an incomplete fashion in two cases. Most Bibles after c. 1230 include only modern chapters. There are certainly exceptions, but in almost all Bibles copied after c. 1230, modern chapter divisions were systematically added even when older chapters were also included. It looks as if the three biblical books in this manuscript were copied from older exemplars. The scribes (or someone correcting the manuscript), knew of the new divisions, and tried to add them, but for some reason, did rather a poor job of it, and included only some. By the middle of the thirteenth century, when modern chapter divisions were the established system of reference, this would be a very unusual scenario.

This manuscript is a remarkable survival. Its most astounding physical feature is its size – this is a really tiny codex, copied in very minute scripts (many measuring less than a millimeter in height), and often with extreme compression between the lines. The Franciscans are known for producing small Bibles, Breviaries, sermon collections and other reference books, but this manuscript is exceptionally small. A comparison with an English Bible described on this site, TM 319, that also (exceptionally) measures just 120 x 83 mm. is instructive. The written space of each page of the Bible measures 84-83 x 57-55 mm., with two columns of thirty-eight lines. The dimensions of the written space of this miscellany vary, but are in general larger, ranging from 105-83 x 69-55 mm., with an astonishing number of lines on each page (as many fifty-nine to forty-five). This is a Franciscan manuscript that embodies the Franciscan vow of poverty. Everything about it says that the paramount requirement was to keep costs to a minimum and to cram as much text as possible into the available space.

The desire to keep costs to a minimum is also evident in the parchment used, which varies in quality from fairly good (thin and evenly prepared), to notably poor, even including cutoffs (see the characteristic wavy margins on ff. 32, 33, 51, 53, 55, 56, 103, 104). Parchment was made from animal hides, and cutoffs are the irregular edges of the hide, which were commonly discarded and boiled for glue or used for notes and other ephemera. Their use in books is exceptional and always noteworthy (Kwakkel, 2011, and Online Resources). 

2. There are from nota marks found in the margins of many of the texts, contemporary or possibly in the hand of the scribe, but almost no other readers’ notes (there was no space for them), apart from the informal additions in later hands (thirteenth or fourteenth century), added on space left blank at the end of a quire on ff. 84v-85v.

3. Private Continental Collection.


I. ff. 1-12v, [f. 1, illegible, darkened and abraded] f. 1v, incipit, “//per christi qui per carnis ille [cre?]bole luxuriam. Sanctes es membrum antichristi … Unde modo de utero uirginis … [f. 2] … Omnibus scitis per ultimum dicitur per iacobo scienti bonum tamen facienti  … tanto opere dilexi … “;

The opening twelve folios are densely written and highly abbreviated; they seem to be a very diverse collection of sayings, biblical quotations and other information, collected without any easily discernible organizing principles. On f. 12v, line 13, there is a mention of brother Anthony, “Quidam mecum in monasterio frater antonius uiuebat qui multis <…?> lacrimis ad gaudia ...”

II. ff. 13-18v, incipit, “Cum venerit paraclitus quem ego mittam nobis a patre spiritum veritatis qui a patre procedit ille testimonium perhibetit de me [John 15:26]. Venit in die pentecostes spiritus sanctus … Queri solet cur tempore venit spirite sanctus in igne apparuit … Solutio in igne apparuit …; … et venit dominus ihesus”;

Short passages, almost notes, on diverse topics in numerous hands; the first passage is rather academic in tone, posed as a quaestio, followed by the solution; other passages comment on biblical passages (on f. 17v, for example, on Jacob’s ladder).

III. ff. 19-39v:
ff. 19-32, De clementia et potentia dei, incipit, “Nouem exohoratio uehementer. Quam qui nos scriptura dua [et] dei filios uocat … [f. 31v], De divino iudicio, … ne ad illas peccatas eterni ignis incurrerent”, Explicit summa;

Extensive florilegia on approximately ninety subjects, generally on moral topics, although the text begins with more theological subjects (the mercy and power of God, the Incarnation, and so forth). Other topics include prayer, the contempt of riches and the commendation of poverty, obedience, and humility; certainly of interest to the Franciscans, although this is probably not a Franciscan text in origin (note the topic “on the solitude of monks”). Many of the extracts are from Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory. The numerous extracts from Seneca are noteworthy, for example, f. 26rv, De insidiis temptationibus, …, Sen., incipit, “Non debemus temptationibus indulgere excludende sunt. Principis illarum obstemus. Melius non incipient quam desinent” (We should not give ourselves up to temptations which occupy our time. They should be shut out. Let us resist them in their early stages. It is better that they shall never begin than that they shall be made to cease” (a slight shortening and rewording (note the use of “temptationibus” for “occupationibus”) of Seneca, Moral letters, ep. lxii).

ff. 32-34, [six sermon extracts, the first three attributed to Bernard] Sermo Beati Bernardi, incipit, “Tolle baculum meum, etc. Habuit iudeas quosdam in hiis quorum …”: Bernardus, incipit, “Vide opera deum qui posunt, etc. Flagellis cesus spinis coronatus …; f. 32v, Bernardus, incipit, “Mulier quid ploras quem queris. Beate lacrime quam tantus consolator …”;

ff. 34-39v, Oratio sancte trinitatis, incipit, “…; [f. 39v], … Sextus fuit asscessus beate virginis … Fiat michi secundum uerbum tuum”, Laudam laudam laudam et magnificat;

Numerous short passages, beginning with a prayer to the Holy Trinity; there is a folio missing following f. 35v; f. 37, includes a text on the ten commandments.

IV. ff. 40-46v:
ff. 40rv, incipit, “//fratres meos heredes et reges regni celorum instituit …, De penitentia fratribus peccantibus ponenda, Si qui fratrum instigante inimico … Pauli apostolorum eius se nouerit incorsurm, Datum laterani iii kalendas decembris pontificates nostri anno octavo”;

The definitive rule or Second Rule approved by Pope Honorius III, here beginning imperfectly in the middle of chapter six. Since the original is found in the Papal Bull Solet annuere of Honorius III (29 November 1223), it is often referred to as the Regula Bullata, although many modern scholars simply call it “The Later Rule.” It has been published many times; critical edition in Esser, 1978, pp. 225-238; English translation in Armstrong, Hellmann, Short, 1999-2001, vol. 1, pp. 99-106; Latin and English version available online at the Franciscan Archive (see Online Resources, below). This Rule is almost always followed by the Testament of St. Francis; it is therefore of interest that it is here followed by his Admonitiones.

ff. 41-43, In nomine patris et filii et spirtus sancti, amen. Hec sunt verba sacre admonitiones uenerabilis patris nostri sancti francisci. [Admonitio?]fratris de corpore domini, incipit, “Dicit dominus Iesus discipulis suis, Ego sum via veritas nemo venit ad patrem nisi per me [John 14:6]. Si cognonis setis [sic] me et patrem meum utique congnosceretis …; … [f. 43, ch. xxviii] De abscondendo uana ne perdatur, incipit, “Beatus servus qui thesaurizat … qui secreta domini observant in corde suo”, Explicit;

Admonitiones of St. Francis; edited in Esser, 1976, the text circulated widely and survives in 64 manuscripts (Esser, p. 69), of these, however, only three date from the thirteenth century, and one from the end of the thirteenth or early fourteenth century, making this an important early witness to this text; English translation in Armstrong, Hellmann, Short, 1999-2001, vol. 1, pp. 128-137available Online at Franciscan Archive, http://www.franciscanos.org/esfa/omfra.html#adm

The Admonitions of St. Francis are twenty-eight short reminders or teachings on the ascetic life addressed to his earliest followers. Their exact date of composition is unknown, but it is likely that they represent oral teachings by Francis, possibly based on his talks at early general chapter meetings, that were gathered together in written form shortly after his death in 1226.

ff. 43v-46v, Hec sunt verba et salutis uite que si quis legerit et fecerit vive merutam et auriet salute ad nostrum, Amen, incipit, “Preceptis salutaribus moniti, id est decem preceptoris logis sententia moniti; et diuina institituti, id est ordinatione; formati, id est roborati …; Pater noster  … Dominus custodiat introitum <… last words rubbed>“; ff. 45v, incipit, “Erunt quinque civitate loquentes in terra egypti … [Isaiah 18:19] … nobis despectus nec uirtutis”;

Commentary on the Lord’s Prayer; not identified in the In principio Database or in Bloomfield, 1979; the same rubric is found before a short prayer apparently by St. Francis in Bibliothèque Guarnacci, MS 225, f. 148, also following the Admonitiones, but the text differs (see Sabatier, 1900, Appendix, two new works by St. Francis, p. 132).

V. ff. 46v-51, incipit, “Litus finis seculi vt ieronimo secus litus sedentes id est in finis seculi degens<?>. Litus stabilitas moralitatis vt in ieremie discipulis in mari<?> …; Angelus descendebat ipsi sancti naui et mouebatur aqua et sanabatur unus quia uemento domino ad populum iudeorum … uel descendente de in fonte baptismo …., Angelus spiritus malignus ut  in spiritus, Quia angelus domini persequens …..; Abissus infernum ut ieronimo ….; Acetum est dolus ….; [f. 47] Agricola est deus pater ut in ieronimo pater …; [f. 49v], Zelus amor spiritualis videlicet zelus domus tue …., Zelus in iuda ….; Zizania sunt reprobi…, [f. 50, additional entries, starting with caliphas], … Replebere spiritu sancto anima fildelis”, Explicit moralitas;

Distinction collection, or in other words a text, arranged alphabetically from Angelus to Zizania (with some entries out of order), listing words and their meanings in different passages (here Jerome is often cited); in some cases several different senses of a particular word is given, but in others there is just one. This is not the common collection beginning with Angelus by Garnier de Rochefort. One leaf missing following f. 48, so that f. 48v ends with “piscatoris”, and f. 49 begins with “sompnium.” See Rouse and Rouse, 1975, for a discussion of this type of text and their importance for preachers composing sermons.

VI. ff. 51-68v:
ff. 51-52v, [bottom margin, added heading, Ysidorus in libris sententiarum in tertio libro], incipit, “Dicit quidam sapiens si luna quando primo apparet est obscura et habet quedam nebulam mutam cum suo …”;  

f. 52v, incipit, “Iudiciis diem precedent hoc signa. Prima dies eriget se mare … xv. fiet celum novum et terra nova et surgent omnes”;

Signs of the Last Judgement; Peter Comestor, Historia scholastica, ch. CLXI, Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. 198, col. 1611.

ff. 52v-68v, [Exegetical extracts, sermons and a short treatise on pennance] Iheronimus super Marcum, incipit, “Quattuor sunt qualitates de qui<busdam?> sancta evangelia …”; f. 54, Quod temma, incipit”,Percussionum quippe diversas genera ...”; … f. 55, [margin, Gregorius, super Iob], incipit, “Per somnium in visione nocturnum …. Quid est quod personi nisi ut nobis locutio diuinarum …”; … f. 61v, Sermo purificationis Sancte Marie virginis, incipit, “Obtralerunt pro eo domino...”; f. 63, De auctoritate ieunium et vindicatur, incipit, “Videndum est quod sunt ieiunium ...”; f. 64, Super job. in moraliter, incipit”,Fac inter sanctos enim nemo immutabilis ...”; f. 64v, De exequiis mortuorum, incipit, “Festo omnium sanctorum continuatio commemoratio mortorum, tres sunt dies continui...”; f. 66v, De penitentia tractatus, incipit, “Peccata per ingratitudine reduc licet per penitentia indicatur dimissa...”;

VII. ff. 69-86:
ff. 69-78v, Incipit epistola super vita beati francisci, incipit, “Venerabili et reuerendo patri fratri helie minorum fratrum generali ministro. Gloriossisimi patris nostri francisci <?> quam domino pape gregorio iubente ...”; Incipit uita beati patris nostri francisci …, incipit, “Vir dei francisscus de ciuitate assisii que in finibus uallis spoletane situs est oriundus …. Inferiori auctoritate apostolica exemit. Deo gratias. Amen;”

ff. 80-84v, Incipit miracula, incipit, “De vita et de [conuersione?] de transitu et canonizatione sanctissimi patris nostri francisci prout breuius <?> expediti quedam miraculorum eius quo primus fide dignos vel per eorum scripta <?> nec ad pro gloriam procuramus. Nec ad omnis que relatans cordis …”; [text], incipit, “Beatus igitur Franciscus regis eterni signifier eo die quo sepultus fuit hoc primum miraculum fecit. Puellum quedam …”; … [f. 84], Religiosa quidam mulier … Huic narrationi et nos iam finem inponimus multitudine scribendum miraculorum silentium indicente, Deo gratias. Amen”; [ff. 84v-85v, later notes];

Life and Miracles of St. Francis; every indication is that this is a hitherto unknown early life of St. Francis. It is related to two known early lives, both surviving as liturgical lessons in Breviaries, the so called Legenda S. Francisci liturgica breviarii minoritici Vaticani, and the Umbrian Legend. Our text was also clearly intended to be used liturgically (includes indications of lectio 1-1X), but the divisions here differ from those in both these two sources. In contrast to these sources, however, this is a complete life of the Saint, and not restricted to the liturgical readings alone. Moreover, it is prefaced by a letter, addressed to brother Elias, minister general of the Franciscans, not found in other sources, which is important evidence of the circumstances surrounding the composition of this life and the two related texts. Elias of Cortona (d. 1253), one of Francis’s earliest followers was minister general from 1221-1227, and again from 1232-1239.

The opening sections of the Vita agree with the Legenda S. Francisci, readings for Matins for the feast of St. Francis in a Breviary in the Vatican (Vat lat. 8737), printed by Lemmens, 1908, pp. 257-259, and known to him in only that one manuscript (see also Dalarun, “Comment”, 2007, for evidence of another copy, now mostly erased). The text in the Vatican Breviary (which Lemmens dated c. 1300, but which Dalarun suggests is earlier, probably from the middle of the thirteenth century), is much shorter than the text in our manuscript. Both manuscripts agree through lectio vi in the Vatican manuscript (ed. p. 257; our manuscript f. 69v, line 9 [lectio i-iv]), then our manuscript has a long section not in the Vatican manuscript (ff. 69v-71v). Lectio vii in the Vatican Breviary is found on f. 71v in our manuscript (inc., “Tres ordines…”), and our manuscript agrees with the Vatican text to the end of its text at mid-f. 71v. The remainder of the Vita in our manuscript is not in the Vatican Breviary. 

The concluding sections of our Vita are found in another source, known as the Umbrian Legend (edited Dalarun, Vers, 2007, pp. 250-274). On f. 71v, line 9, the text beginning, “Duobus namque annis antequam spiritum redderet celo …”, agrees with the text in Dalarun, p. 250, continuing to the end of the Vita on f. 79v, and then continuing, as does the Umbrian Legend, with a section of the Miracles of St. Francis (Dalarun, ed., pp. 274-310). The beginning and ending of the text in our manuscript, and the text printed by Dalarun agree, but the two were not completely collated, and may differ in some details.

The importance of the text known as the Umbrian Legend (or the Umbrian Choir Legend) was revealed in Jacques Dalarun’s path-breaking study and edition of the text (Vers une résolution, 2007). Before this time, the text had been neglected by modern scholars, who viewed it as a later, derivative text. Dalarun, however, has restored it to a place of importance. In his view (which has been widely accepted; cf. Șenocak, 2012), the Umbrian Legend was written by Thomas of Celano (c. 1200-1265) between 1235-1245, and most likely in the last years when Elias of Cortona was minister general, 1237-1239 (the new evidence of the letter at the beginning of the text in this manuscript lends support to this hypothesis). Sources for the text include his first life of St. Francis (1229), the Legenda ad usum chori (after 1230) and the life by Julien of Spire (1232-5). Later sources including the Legend of the Three Companions (1246), Thomas’s Second Life (1247) and his Miracula (1247-53), drew on the material found in the Umbrian Legend.

In 1266, a decree of the chapter of Paris ordered that all earlier lives of St. Francis were to be destroyed, and replaced by the official life of the Saint by St. Bonaventure. The effectiveness of this decree is witnessed by the survival of these texts: the Legenda S. Francisci liturgica breviarii minoritici Vaticani has been identified in only two manuscripts; the Umbrian Legend in five. The text in this manuscript, therefore, represents an important discovery regardless of whether it was compiled by an unknown author, using these two sources, or if it is in fact the original version of a hitherto unknown life by Thomas of Celano, that was itself the source for the other two texts. 

VIII. ff. 86-101v:
ff. 86-97v, incipit”,Vir erat in terra hus nomine iob et erat vir ille [expunged later: magnus] simplex et rectus ...  et mortus est senex a plenus dierum”, Explicit liber iob;

Book of Job. One important features of this copy are the biblical chapters used here. The biblical chapters still used today probably were created in the late twelfth century, but they were used as the standard biblical chapters only beginning in the late 1220s-c.1230 (first in Paris, and possibly England). The first half of the biblical text in this manuscript is divided into numerous, short unnumbered chapters, reflecting the practice common before the wide-spread adoption of the modern chapters divisions, with numbers of the modern chapters, 1-20, added in the margins (possibly by the original scribe), with some errors. The remainder of Job is copied with only a few unnumbered divisions (some agreeing with the modern chapters divisions, but fewer in number). Overall, this seems to suggest that this was copied from an older exemplar, around the time that the modern chapter divisions were first being introduced.

ff. 97v-101v, Incipit prefatio sancti ieronimi in zacharias propheta, incipit, “Secundo anno darii regis medorum …” Explicit prefatio; Incipit Zacharias propheta, incipit, “Mense ocatavo in anno secundo darii … exercitum in die illo”, Finit Zacharias propheta;

Zacharias, with the prologue often found in thirteenth-century Bibles, here attributed to Jerome (Stegmüller, no. 539); as in the book of Job copied before this, the chapter divisions indicated by the initials are unnumbered and differ from the modern chapters; in addition to the more numerous chapters indicated by initials, seven divisions are marked by small red roman numerals. Some, but not all of these agree with modern chapters (Zacharias in modern Bibles, and in most medieval Bibles after c. 1230 was divided into fourteen chapters).

f. 101v, Paulus in actibus apostolorum, incipit, “Ego scio quoniam intrabunt … quam accipere” [Acts 20:29-35];

Short passage from Acts, followed by two exegetical passages, one citing Isidore, and concluding with a short paragraph on excommunication (incipit, “Nota quod sunt v. casus in quibus communi casus excommunicato … et casus humanitatis non sum excomunicatus”) with the verse, “Vtile lex humile, Res ignorata necesse” cited in the passage.

IX. ff. 102-115v:

ff. 102-107v, In nomine domini nostri Ihesu Christi. Incipit dicta sancti Methodii episcopi paterensis de regna regum et de novissimis temporibus certa demonstratio christiana, incipit, “Sciendum namque est quomodo exeuntes adam et evam de paradiso uirgines fuisset ... et semper cum secula seculorum amen”;

Pseudo-Methodius, Revelationes; Laureys and Verhelst, 1988, pp. 114-136, list 196 manuscripts in four recensions and fragments; this manuscript is not listed, but almost certainly belongs to the recencio I; early edition in Sackur, 1898, pp. 59-96; see also Aerts Kortekaas, 1998. The presence of this sixth- or seventh-century apocalyptic text is of interest in this context, both because it follows canonical texts of the Bible, and as evidence of the interests of the early Franciscans who copied this miscellany.

ff. 107v-108, Ex evangelio luce, incipit, “Quantum ex evangelice serie lectionis invenimus …”;

ff. 108-109, De falsis testibus,…; ff. 108v-109v, De octo vitiis principalibus, incipit, “Octo sunt vitia principalia uel originalia … “;

Sections of this are excerpted from Alcuin, Liber de virtutibus et vitiis, Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. 101, col. 632-636.

ff. 109v-115v [Miscellaneous collection of sermons and short extracts], Sermo in parasceuen, incipit, “Videbam in uisione mea nocte et ecce quatuor venti celi pubnabant [Daniel 7:2] …”; ff. 110, Storia gedeonis, incipit, “Sic et madianite tempore gedeonis tubarum …”; f. 110v, De significatione digitorum, incipit, “In manus sunt v. digite …”; f. 111, De duplici pugna ….; f. 111v, De equis et sensoribus eis …; f. 111v, Sermo moralis …; f. 112, Oratio contra tepmtatonem [sic], incipit, “Unde cum aliquis temptationibus inuadatur dicit, In nomine ihesu christi nazareni circumfixi qui inpauit …; f. 113v, Qualiter filius dei dicitur angelus …; [rubric lacking] f. 114v, incipit, “Dixit dominus ad noe … quia simile de speculo fierent patres tamen in quolibet ymago hominis resultat”;

ff. 116-122v, incipit, “[offen]//das ad lapidem pedem tuum. Ait illi ihesus rursum. Scriptum est non tentabis dominum deum tuum … et interrogavit eum unus ex eis legis doctor, tentans eum”; [f. 123rv, text continues on f. 123, a fragment of a folio, darkened and largely illegible on the verso].

Gospel of St. Matthew, beginning imperfectly in Matthew 4:6, continuing through 22:35; the text continues on f. 123, which is only the top quarter or so of the folio, now concluding on the verso, which is darkened and largely illegible. It seems very likely that this quire is lacking its first and last leaves, and the text of the Gospel was once complete. Copied with older chapters, but with Roman numerals indicating the modern chapters added in the margins in a different hand, possibly later.

The origins of the Franciscan Order can be traced back to its charismatic founder, St. Francis of Assisi (c. 1182-1226), who presented himself and his small group of followers to Pope Innocent III in 1210. They were then granted permission to live Francis’s radical vision of a life of complete apostolic poverty. From these humble beginnings, the Franciscan Order grew rapidly, attracting members across Europe. 

Since the publication of the controversial life of Francis by Paul Sabatier in 1894, scholars have grappled by the puzzling and sometimes contradictory depictions of the saint and the earliest decades of Franciscan history. Known as “the Franciscan question”, the interpretation of the historical veracity of the various early sources for Franciscan history from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries has occupied historians since that time (see Dalarun, 2007, and Șenocak, 20012 for discussions). Everything suggests that the evidence of Life and Miracles of St. Francis in this manuscript may well contribute important evidence to the ongoing debate. 

The scholarly importance of the hitherto unknown Live of St. Francis is undeniable, but there are dozens and dozens of texts in this manuscript, including long sections of extracts, sermons and other texts, which are described here only in summary fashion; further study may well uncover additional new and even surprising texts. Certainly, the alphabetical distinction collection (defining and showing the use of words), and the moral florilegium that cites Seneca are noteworthy. It is also really interesting to find books of the Bible copied in this context. To our knowledge, no one has yet studied how often in the Middle Ages one finds parts of the Bible in miscellanies. Their presence raises questions of about attitudes towards the sacred text. 


W. J. Aerts et G. A. A. Kortekaas. Die Apokalypse des Pseudo-Methodius. Die ältesten griechischen und lateinischen Übersetzungen, CSCO, 569, sub. 97, Louvain, 1998.

Armstrong, Regis J. and Ignatius C. Brady, transl. and introduction. Francis and Clare: The Complete Works, New York, 1982.

Armstrong, Regis J., J. A. Wayne Hellmann, and William J, Short, ed. Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, 3 vols., New York, 1999-2001.

Bloomfield, Morton W., Bertrand-Georges Guyot, Donald R. Howard, and Thyra B. Kabealo. Incipits of Latin Works on the Virtues and Vices, 1100-1500 A. D., The Mediaeval Academy of America: Publications 88, Cambridge, 1979.

Dalarun, Jacques. “Comment détruire les legends franciscaines? Une ingénieuse application de la definition de 1266 dans le manuscrit Reg. lat. 1738 de la Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Miscellanea Bibliothecae Apostolicae Vaticanae 14 (2007), pp. 215-225.

Dalarun Jacques. “La Légende ombrienne et la résolution de la question franciscaine”, Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 151, no. 2 (2007), pp. 781-797: available online:

Dalarun, Jacques. Vers une résolution de la question franciscaine: la Légende ombrienne de Thomas de Celano, Paris, 2007.

Dalarun, Jacques, ed. Thomas de Celano, Les Vies de saint François d’Assise. Vie du bienheureux François, Légende de chœur, Légende ombrienne, Mémorial dans le désir de l’âme, Paris, 2009. 

Esser, Kajetan and Rémy Oliger. La tradition manuscrite des opuscules de saint François d'Assise : préliminaires de l'édition critique, Rome, 1972.

Esser, Kajetan, ed. Die Opuscula des heilige Franziskus von Assisi. Neues textkritische Edition, Spicilegium Bonaventurianum 16, Grottaferrata, Rome, 1976.

Kwakkel, Erik. “Commercial Organization and Economic Innovation”, in The Production of Books in England 1350-1500, ed. Alexandra Gillespie and Daniel Wakelin, Cambridge and New York, 2011, pp. 173-191, at pp. 186-188.

Lemmens, Leonardus. “Testimonia minora saec. XIII de S. P. Franciscus”, Archivum franciscanum historicum 1 (1908), pp. 248-266 at 257-259; available online at http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=inu.30000115807525;view=1up;seq=287

Laureys, Marc and Daniel Verhelst. “Pseudo-Methodius, Revelationes”, in The Use and Abuse of Eschatology in the Middle Ages, ed. Werner Verbeke, Daniel Verhelst and Andries Welckenhuysen, Louvain, 1988, pp. 114-136

Menestò, Enrico Stefano Brufani, ed. Fontes Franciscani. Assisi, 1995.

Robson, Michael J. P., ed. The Cambridge companion to Francis of Assisi, Cambridge and New York, 2012.

Rouse, R. H. and M. A. “Biblical Distinctions in the Thirteenth Century”, Archives d’histoire doctrinale et littéraire du moyen ȃge 41 (1975), pp. 27-37.

Sabatier, Paul, ed. Fratris Francisci Bartholi de Assisio Tractatus de indulgentia S. Mariæ de Portiuncula … Accedunt varia documenta inter quæ duo Sancti Francisci Assisiensis opuscula hucusque inedita …, Paris, 1900.

Sackur, Ernst. Sibyllinische Texte und Forschungen Pseudomethodius, Adso und die tiburtinische Sibylle, Halle a. S., 1898.

Șenocak, Neslihan. The Poor and the Perfect: the Rise of Learning in the Franciscan Order, 1209-1310, Ithaca, 2012.

Online resources

Erik Kwakkel discussing parchment offcuts

Franciscan Archive

Regula Bullata (in Latin and English)

Writings of St. Francis in Latin


Francis and Clare: Early Documents (St. Louis University, Center for Digital Theology)

Links to Franciscan Sources

In Principio, Incipit index of Latin texts (by subscription)