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les Enluminures

Itinerarium animi [Franciscan Sermon Vademecum]

In Latin, manuscript on parchment
[Italy, c.1340-1400]

TM 210

i + 192 + ii (flyleaf and pastedown, 14th-century leaf) folios, including 14 blanks [collation 114+1 (single leaf, f. 22, originally from the next quire, added after 14; labeled [quire] 2) 210 (beginning f. 23, labeled [quire] 3) 3-410 510 (-3, f. 55) 6-910 [quire missing with ff. 103-112]1010 (-1, f. 113, and -10, f. 122) 11-1410 1510 (ending f. 172;seven quires missing with ff. 173-242) 16-1810 1910 (with f. 275 bis], early foliation in Arabic numerals, upper right corner, in brown ink, ff. 8-281, now missing ff. 1-7, 55, 103-113, 122, and 173-242; with f. 275 bis; blank folios are included in this foliation [medieval foliation cited in description], gatherings numbered in lower margin on opening rectos beginning with f. 22 (labeled 2), followed by f. 23 (labeled 3) and continuing through f. 93, labeled “10,” written in two columns of varying numbers of lines in brown and black ink in a very small semi-formal gothic bookhand, between four verticals and 42 horizontals ruled in plummet (justification 110 x 81mm), some columns struck through with a single line; f. 1 with initials touched red; marginal headings and manicules; blanks remain at the beginning of texts for one-line initials; guide letters visible (a few leaves reinforced at gutter with vellum or paper, text-block split in several places). Bound in Italy in sheepskin over beveled wooden boards, last quarter of the 15th century; tooled in blind with a center panel formed by double fillets with a small center ornament of rope interlace and fleuron motifs in each corner, and an outer border of small decorative stamps; with four small brass bosses, upper and lower boards; undecorated clasps and catches, which fasten in the Italian manner, front to back [see Jane Greenfield, ABC of Bookbinding [Delaware, Oak Knoll Press, 1998] 95, “fifteenth-century binding structure, Italy and Spain”); title on parchment, lower board: 'Itinera[rium] Anni [sic] seu sylva pred[icatorum] S. Bernard [sic]'; ?original hasp, upper board; now with modern replacement chain; final flyleaf and pastedown from a legal manuscript, Italy, c. 1250-1350, written in round Italian gothic bookhand; two columns, red rubric. (Some wear to binding, with a few cracks or losses to leather). Dimensions 162 x 112 mm.

In a medieval binding, this manuscript is valuable as a living witness to Franciscan preaching. Either an ongoing record for a preacher’s own use or an informal version intended to be recopied later in another form, the present manuscript is unusual both in its textual content and its arrangement. Presently unidentified, and possibly by many different authors, the sermons present a rich resource for historians of preaching, social historians, and historians of the book.


1. Copied in Italy in the middle to second half of the fourteenth-century (includes Trinity Sunday and feast of Louis of Toulouse, OFM, canonized 1317), for a Franciscan (many additional Franciscan saints including Francis of Assisi, feast of the Stigmata of Francis, Clare of Assisi, and Anthony of Padua).

2. The first and final folios (ff. 8 and 281) bear the red wax seal of a cardinal.

3. George John Warren (formerly Venables-Vernon), 5th Baron Vernon (1803-1866; heraldic bookplate, inside front cover); his sale, Sotheby's New York, 10 June 1918, lot 682. Aided by Payne and Foss, Lord Vernon built up an important library, part of which later became the nucleus of the Holford library. Those books and manuscripts not sold to Holford were sold in 1918, 1921 and 1928 (see de Ricci, p.116).

4. Cornelius J. Hauck (1893-1967) of Cincinnati, Ohio, businessman, civic leader and collector of rare books and manuscripts (his bookplate, inside front cover); his collection was donated to the Cincinnati Historical Society Library in 1966, and then sold in 2006 (The History of the Book: the Cornelius J. Hauck Collection New York, Christie’s, 27 and 28 June 2006).


ff. 8-12v, “Incipit itinerarium animi” (index, arranged according to the order of the liturgical year, beginning with the first Sunday in Advent, and continuing through the Saturday in the 24th Sunday after Pentecost; includes Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi; Sundays are counted after Pentecost as was the costume of liturgical books following Roman Use including Franciscan books; some entries followed by folio and a-h reference);

ff. 12-16v, “Adolescentium resurrectio … Yhesus nomini multipliciter comendatum”; 23a et 161f “ubi varii sermons” [alphabetical subject index].

ff. 17-18, “In sancti andree apostolo” in 'a' 42g … “In sancte chatarine” [sic] in 'a' 112e [index of sermons for feasts in the Sanctorale; includes Anthony (Anthony of Padua, OFM, 13 June), Dominic (OP, 5 August), Clare of Assisi (OFM, 12 August), Ludovici ep. (Louis of Toulouse, OFM, canonized 1317, 19 August), Feast of the Stigmata of Francis (17 September), Francis of Assisi (4 October), “Dedicatione sancti salvatoris,” and Elizabeth of Hungary (19 November)].

ff. 18v-19, “Tractatus et Sermones completi. De moderamine lingue. sermones 3 uel 4”; “De blasphemia,” ser. 1; “De Religione, sermones 2 …. De inferno vivet. ser. 1” [short list, beginning on f. 18v, ending mid column a; column b and f. 19, column a, blank; concludes top column a, f. 19; seems to list the number of sermons included rather than provide their location in the volume; f. 19v blank.]

f. 20rv [Index of sermons listed by biblical theme; ends top column a, f. 20v; remainder and f. 21rv blank.]

ff. 22-281 [ff. 166v-173 blank; ff. 174-242 missing; f. 281v blank; numerous sermons and sermon outlines] “Dominica I de adventu, in conventu ianue. Audiui uocem aquile uoalntis per medium celum Apoc [8:13]. Quadruplex est Christi adventus….”

Sermons are not arranged according to the liturgical year. In addition to headings indicating the liturgical occasion, many include a heading summarizing their theme or the occasion of preaching. The first sermon was said to have been preached at the convent in Genoa. Note the following other sermons: f. 33 “In mantua in capitula generali”; and f. 34, a sermon against the Guelfs and Ghibellines (“Dominica 7 post pentecostos. Contra guelfos et gibellinos. Concilium demonum quando inuenerunt….”). Some sermons include metrical divisions in Italian (for example, ff. 37v, 43 and 62). Several sermons concern nuns: f. 89, “de sancte clare,” addresses the spirituality of both sexes; and f. 94, is a sermon for nuns. The concluding section includes notes on the love of God, the virtues (including, among others, patience, wisdom, grace, innocence, humility) and the seven seals (of the Apocalypse).

This small, portable volume is an unusual manuscript copied for the use of a Franciscan preacher. It consists of records of hundreds of sermons, a few copied out in detail, but many more in outline form. Some are copied only as schematic notes on the distinctions used to develop the theme. The sermons are unidentified, and the text as well as the physical details of the volume suggests that this manuscript may consist of notes recording sermons the writer of the volume heard, or possibly read, which he was in the process of arranging and indexing for his own use in preaching. The manuscript is carefully written, with signs of revisions and planning, including numbered leaves left blank, places for sermons left blank except for numbers for the divisions, internal cross references, and columns struck through with lines (possibly added by later owner of the manuscript). Alternatively, this may be a preliminary version of sermons copied for an author and meant for later dissemination in a more formal version.

The manuscript is foliated throughout by the scribe in early Arabic numerals, and each folio is divided into sections for references by letters, a-h (on the recto a-d; on the verso, e-h) and includes a series of indices at the beginning with references to these folio numbers and letters. This is an elaboration of the reference system first developed in the second quarter of the thirteenth century, and found in early versions of the Dominican concordance to the Bible, as well as in other texts. Owner-indexed volumes, often of sermons, become more and more common from the end of the thirteenth century (see Rouse and Rouse, 1979, pp. 22-23)

Itinerant preaching was central to the Franciscan mission, as was the ideal of absolute poverty. The friars had to travel light and on foot, and so their books were designed, like this one, to be modest, functional and highly portable (see D'Avray, “Portable Vademecum books containing Franciscan and Dominican texts,” in de la Mare, 1980, pp. 61-64). This manuscript is valuable as a living witness to Franciscan preaching. Importantly, many of the sermons are not only labeled for liturgical feasts, but also for occasion and theme. Presently unidentified, and possibly by many different authors, they present a rich resource for historians of preaching, social historians, and historians of the book.


d’Avray, D. L. The Preaching of the Friars: Sermons Diffused from Paris before 1300, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1985.

de la Mare, A.C. and B. C. Barker Benfield, eds. Manuscripts at Oxford: an Exhibition in Memory of Richard William Hunt (1908-1975), Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1980.

[Hunt, R.W.], The Coming of the Friars: Commemorative Exhibition, Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1974, especially pp. 8-14 discussing Franciscan books.

Kienzle, Beverly Mayne, The Sermon. (Typologie des sources du moyen âge occidental 81-83), Turnhout, Brepols, 2000.

Rouse, R. H. and M. A. Rouse. Preachers, Florilegia and Sermons: Studies on The Manipulus florum of Thomas of Ireland (Studies and Texts, 47), Toronto, Pontifical Institute, 1979.