TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures


In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
France, c. 1450

TM 332

154 leaves, on parchment, plus one modern parchment flyleaf at the beginning and end (collation: i8, ii6 (8-2, first and last missing), iii-xv8, xvi12, xvii-xix8), apparently lacking three or more quires (see below), catchwords survive in most quires, original foliation in red ink in roman and arabic numerals: xvii-xxiiii, [11]-16, 18-157, and modern pencil foliation (i, 1-155), written in brown ink in a fine gothic bookhand with stress-marks of various forms in red to aid reading aloud, with 20 lines of text per page (justification 185 x 110 mm.), ruled in plummet, capitals touched with yellow wash, the start of each reading with two-line painted initials throughout in red, blue, or both colours, often with various forms of geometric or rope-work ornament, most major initials three lines high, Pentecost with a four-line initial (f. 103). Bound in modern pale brown pigskin(?) with five raised bands on the spine, blank endpapers. (The corners of some leaves missing, especially ff. 9-12, repaired with modern parchment, some margins more-or-less water-stained, especially ff. 9-30). Dimensions 250 x 175 mm.

Used in the performance of the Mass, the Lectionary lies at the very heart of medieval religious belief and practice and, thus, provides a close-up view of worship in the medieval Church. Despite being fairly standard from one place and date to another, because Lectionaries were usually copied from other Lectionaries rather than as a series of extracts from a complete Bible, they can preserve superseded textual readings and therefore be of considerable textual interest.


1. There are no liturgical clues to the precise place or date of origin; the dating and localisation is therefore dependent on the style of script and decoration. There is an erased ownership (?) inscription at the end of the text, perhaps including a name “Tylon”(?) (f. 154).


ff. 1-8v, Sanctorale of major feasts, from the Vigil (29 November) of the feast of St. Andrew, to St. Paul (30 June), rubric, Incipit proprium officium sanctorum. Et primo in vigilia sancti Andree ... Lectio epistole beati Pauli apostoli. Ad Romanos; text incipit, “Fratres. Corde creditur ad iustitiam ...[i.e. Romans 10:10]”; followed by readings for the Conception of the Virgin (8 December); the Conversion of St. Paul (25 January); the Purification of the Virgin (2 February); St. Peter’s Chair (22 February); St. Mathias (24 February); the Annunciation (25 March); the Invention of the Cross (3 May); Sts. Gervase and Prothase (19 June); the Vigil of St. John (23 June); St. John the Baptist (24 June); the day after St. John, and St. Paul (25 June and 30 June); ending imperfect at “... Dans flatum populo qui est super eam, et spiritum calcan[tibus]” (Isaiah 42:5).

ff. 9-154, Temporale for the whole year from Christmas Eve to the twenty-fourth week after Trinity Sunday: beginning imperfect at “nobis ut nos redimeret ...” (Titus 2:14); followed by readings for Christmas In aurora (i.e. at dawn) and In die (25 December); and the feasts of St. Stephen (26 December); St. John the Evangelist (27 December); the Holy Innocents (28 December); St. Thomas Becket (29 December); the Circumcision (1 January); Epiphany (6 January); the Sunday within the Octave of Epiphany; the Octave of Epiphany (13 January); the Holy Name of Jesus, ending imperfect at “... in quo iste salvus factus est: notum sit” (Acts 4:10); continuing from the first Sunday after Epiphany: rubric, Lectio episcopi beati Pauli apostolo ad Romanos, text incipit “Fratres. Obsecro vos per misericordiam dei ...”; text explicit, “... Ingrediemur enim in requiem qui credidimus [Hebrews 4:3] in dominum nostrum Iesum Christum.”

A Lectionary contains the lections (or “lessons”) read during the Mass. Lections from the Gospels can be grouped separately in a Gospel Lectionary, otherwise known as an Evangeliary; while those from the New Testament Epistles (plus the Acts of the Apostles and Revelation) can be grouped in an Epistle Lectionary, or an Epistolary. Lections from the Old Testament are also included. The present manuscript includes lections from the Epistles, the Gospels, and the Old Testament.

The question of the precise amount of text that is missing from the present volume, and its content, is puzzling. The volume starts with a standard quire of eight leaves, with original foliation from “xvii” to “xxiiii” so it is virtually certain that two quires each of eight leaves (folios “i” to “xvi”) are missing. But the text on “xvii” is (as the rubric confirms) the start of the Sanctorale. It is therefore likely that the missing quires contained a prefatory table of contents, and that no textually significant content is missing here. The Sanctorale covers the major feasts from November to June in just one quire, so the rest of the year would doubtless have occupied no more than one more quire.

The second quire of the volume is of six leaves, with one leaf is missing at the beginning and end. The original foliation shows that this quire would originally have been ff. 11-17, so the preceding leaves (original ff. 1-10), now missing, would presumably have contained the lections from the start of Advent to Christmas Eve.

Confirmation that the ink foliation is original is provided by the fact that this foliation is referred to within the rubrics: on f. 100 is “Tertia. quaere supra. fol. 80 in vigilia pasche.” (the third lection of the Vigil of Easter does indeed begin on f. 80v). Another rubric refers to the Common of saints: “quaere in communi unius martyris” (f. 12v), which may suggest that this too is now missing, but the rubric might alternatively be referring the reader to a separate volume.


Addleshaw, George William Outram. Lectionaries Old and New, London, 1957.

Bouhot, Jean-Paul. La Lecture liturgique des Eìpîtres catholiques dans l’Eìglise ancienne, Lausanne, 1996.

Harper, John. The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy from the Tenth to the Eighteenth Century: A Historical Introduction and Guide for Students and Musicians, Oxford University Press, 1991.

Harrison, G. B. and John McCabe. The Bible in the Mass, London, 1982.

Hughes, Andrew. Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: a guide to their organization and terminology, Toronto and London, 1982.

Online resources

The Medieval Lectionary, by Michael Marlowe

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