TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

German Prayer Book, including texts derived from MECHTHILD VON HACKEBORN, Liber specialis gratiae; the Goslarer Gartengebet; and MAGDALENA VON FREIBURG, Die goldene Litanei vom Leben und Leiden Jesu Christi

In German, with Latin inserts, manuscript on paper
Cologne, Germany, c.1550-1575

TM 823

i + 355 + i folios on paper from a single stock, watermark pair of heraldic eagle (single head), crowned, two-contoured talons, wings outstretched upright, a type used from the later 15th -16th centuries (known from too few examples in Piccard-Online and standard handbooks to be datable), modern foliation in pencil, top, outer corner, incomplete at the end (collation i12 ii-vi8 vii9 [complete, but f. 61 a singleton] viii-xix8 xx4 xxi12 xxii-xxxv8 xxxvi6 xxxvii-xliv8), unruled (justification 110-105 x 70-65 mm.), written in one hand in a tiny ‘Netherlandish’ hybrida libraria, on twenty-six to twenty long lines in black and red inks, five multi-coloured 12-10 line penwork initials, ff. 1, 8, 62, 191v, 216v, conservative in style and modelled on late medieval initials rather than on contemporary printed books with a heavy application of colored inks, approximately one hundred and thirty similar but smaller 8- to 3-line multi-colored penwork initials, single-color penwork initials in blue and red on 2-3 lines, rubrication and underlining in red throughout, excellent condition.  Bound in brown blind-tooled leather over wooden boards, sewn on four cords, using two binding stamps (EBDB r002462, Judith-Justitia-Eva-Maria, and r002411, Palmettenfries), the paper flyleaves are blank, metal attachments for clasps or straps now missing.  Dimensions 140 x 95 mm.

This prayer book was conceived, and its texts assembled, for the private use of an individual nun, an Augustinian canoness of Maria zum Weiher in St. Cäcilien in Cologne.  Organized around her daily routine, it is a remarkably detailed and intimate document of female spirituality in the sixteenth century, focused as it is around a nun’s preparation to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist.  Academic study of post-medieval Catholic prayer books is in its infancy, and this manuscript would present a rewarding subject for inquiry.


1.Written in Cologne, c. 1550-1575 for the Augustinian Canonesses of Maria zum Weiher in St. Cäcilien. The evidence for this provenance must be put together from the dialect, the binding, and the textual content.  The dialect is ripuarian, the distinctive form of German spoken in and around Cologne, which indicates a certain provenance in that city.  The binding is the work of Batius Koch, also known as Servatius Koch (EBDB w002803). Active from c.1540 through to the 1580s, he enjoyed an unusually long and productive career as a bookbinder in Cologne, with commissions for the city council, the archbishop Gebhard von Mansfeld, the university, and the Quentell printers (Schunke, 1937, pp. 341-42 and 385-87, with a list of his binding tools, and Boeff, 2007, pp. 169-73). The Judith-Justitia-Eva-Maria stamp roll used in the binding of this manuscript is dated 1546, just above the word Ivdidt, and provides the date post quem for this manuscript. For other examples of Koch’s bindings, some using the same stamps as on this manuscript, see the digitizations made available by the Universitäts- und Stadtbibliothek Köln (Online Resources).

The prayers in this manuscript have been written or adapted for a nun in a specific conventual framework. The nun follows the Rule of St Augustine (ff. 12 and 28v), her personal patroness was St Elisabeth (f. 37), and prayers to the saints frequently include prominent roles for saints especially associated with Cologne: notably Cecilia, Eberigisil, whose bones were preserved in a reliquary at St. Cäcilien (see ff. 12v-13, 36v-37v, and 143-144v), and Eugenia, to whom St. Cäcilien was formerly dedicated (see ff. 86 and 101v). The text of the Goldene Litanei vom Leben und Leiden Jesu Christi, attributed to Magdalena von Freiburg, is adapted in this manuscript to address Augustine as “our beloved father,” places Eugenia and Cecilia first amongst the virgins, and includes Cologne saints like Eberigisil and Ursula with her 11,000 virgins (see f. 254). A similar arrangement occurs in another prayer at ff. 164-165v.

The secular canonesses of St. Cäcilien were just two in number in 1474, when the Augustinian convent of Maria zum Weiher, outside the city walls of Cologne, was destroyed by order of the city council to make way for defensive fortifications. The nuns of Maria zum Weiher were granted the canonry of St. Cäcilien, which remained a convent of Augustinian regular canonesses until secularization in 1802. The size and scope of its library is unknown, and no catalogue survives. It was likely dispersed during the French occupation of the Rhineland; when the convent was formally secularized in 1802, nothing of the library aside from a few collections of statutes survived. The largest extant set of books (approximately twenty-four volumes) came by way of the self-styled Baron Hüpsch into what is now the Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Darmstadt, mostly prayer books and devotionalia produced between c.1510-1626. A small number of liturgica are more widely dispersed (for the library see Gückel, 1993, pp. 333-35).

The Darmstadt prayer books from St. Cäcilien in Cologne are described as nos. 69-71 and 78-96 by Achten and Knaus, 1959. Of particular interest are their nos. 86 (Hs. 1839), 87 (Hs. 1893), and 88 (Hs. 1891), all of which they date to c.1570, and which are linked by their uniform blind-tooled bindings: nos. 87 and 88 are both reported to bear the impression a “Judith-Justitia-etc.” roll, which is very likely the same roll used by the binder Batius Koch on this present manuscript.

This manuscript was conceived as a single unit, written in one hand using a single stock of paper, and with the individual component texts carefully interlinked by means of rubrics. The final quire of this manuscript, which may have preserved a scribal colophon, has been excised, and a contemporary ownership mark on the inside front cover has been erased. It remains only to compare this manuscript with, in the first instance, Darmstadt, UuLB, Hss. 1839, 1891 and 1893 to confirm the likelihood that it originally formed part of that set of prayer books copied in St. Cäcilien in the third quarter of the sixteenth century and bound by Batius Koch.

2. Tiny marginal additions in Latin in an early modern (18th century?) cursive script on ff. 126, 178v, and 181.

3. Frankfurt a. M., Dr. J. Häberlin; his sale, Karl & Faber, Munich, 11-13 November 1937, cat. no. 18 (Online Resources).

4. Goslar, Kulturhistorische Sammlung der Familie Adam, Inv.-Nr. 1711: known in this location to Schmidtke, 1982, pp. 46-47.

5.Heidelberg, Antiquariat Helmut Tenner, Adam sale, first part, 6 May 1980, Auction 126, cat. no. 41 (see Handschriftencensus entry, last known location of this manuscript, and Schoenberg Database ID: SCHOENBERG_1887). The pencil entry in the inside front cover, which reads Adam I. 41, and below M.MDEE (80), pertains to this sale: i.e. Sammlung Adam, first part of the sale, cat. no. 41, in 1980, although the letters M.MDEE remain undeciphered. The pencil marks on the inside rear cover (A 129, 113 in a circle, HA. 555, and the single number 6) presently resist identification.


ff. 1-38, Eyn koirte maneir we sich eyn mynsch zo dem sacrament der bicht bereiden sal Gait vp eyn heymliche stat ind slait alle vsserliche bekumernyssen vs vrem hertzen ind gifft vch zo vlyssiger ouerdenchungen vrs suntlichen leuens ind keirt vch zo gode mt oitmodiger inteckungen ee ir zo dem preister gayt Sprecht irst den ypnum Ueni creator ind dar na dise gebeder, incipit, “O leue here Ihesu xpe Ich arme sundersche dancken dir alle dynre lde du myr bewist …”;

Prayers for recitation before and after confession, principally addressed to Christ with emphasis on his suffering and crucifixion. Christ is apostrophized as the “highest priest” (“ouerster preister”, f. 7), and in the instructions for confession itself (ff. 16-17), the penitent is enjoined to consider the crucified Christ himself to be present in the person of the priest.

The prayers are intended to be recited in a monastic context: in the instructions for confession, Latin prayers (beginning with the text of Ps. 13, 4-5) are presented for recitation during procession into the confessional (“in dat bichtz huse”, f. 16). The prayer to Augustine names him as the penitent’s holy father, with forgiveness to be sought on account of the frequency with which the penitent has disobeyed the rule and statutes (“vr regel ind statute”, f. 12); in a prayer post-confession to Mary the penitent expresses sorrow for having sinned against her vow, and her observance of her rule and order (f. 28v). The prayers to multiple saints have Anna first, and include saints associated particularly with Cologne, like Cecilia and Eberigisil. The last of these prayers to names Elizabeth as the penitent’s patroness (“myn .l. patroynersche S. Elisabet,” f. 37).

ff. 38-40, Dyt synt de vij bloitsturtunge de eyme m. alre nutzlichste synt yntgayn de vij doit sunden. list myt andacht, incipit, “Ich anbeden dich alre .s. here Ihesu xpe ind dyn .h. besneitunge ind vsturtzunge dyns h kyntlichen bloitgens Ich .b. dich leue here vergiff myr wat ich mystayn han in der eirsten doitsunden…”;

A sequence of prayers in which the seven bloodlettings of Christ are invoked sequentially in supplication for forgiveness of the seven mortal sins.

ff. 40-41, rubric, Dit synt S gregorius pater noster ind man verdeynt da mt xl m iair ind xl m dage afflais, incipit, “O leue here Ihesu xe ich anbeden dich an dem h crutz hangende ind eyn dornen kroyn vp dyme h houfft dragende Ich .b. dich .l. here dat dyn .h. crutz…”;

Gregory the Great, Adoro te in cruce pendentem, in German translation, here in the version with nine invocations: see Ruh, 1981, cols 241-42.

ff. 41-44, rubric, Eyn suuerlich rosenkrentzgen van vnser leuer vrauwen van vij pater noster ind lxx Aue marien ind de vij bloitsturtzunge ind wanne ir dit list en hoifft ir de vij bloitsturtzunge ut zo lissen als he vr steit Ind ir moicht dit alre bequemelichste lissen wanne ir (f. 41v) zo bichten sijt gewest ind vch eyn rosenkrentzgen vur penitencie besat is. eirst list pater, incipit, “O leue here Ihesu xe dit j pater noster ind Aue maria offeren ich dir zo loue ind eren dynre .h. besneittungen ind dancken dir der vsturtzungen dyns .h. bloitz…”;

Rosary of prayers addressed to Mary, in which the seven sorrows and seven joys are alternately invoked, and presented as suitable prayers if a penance of rosary recitation is enjoined in confession.

ff. 44r-v, rubric, Dit gebt ht gemaicht der .h. lere Sent bernardinus ind wer it mt andacht ruwen ind gebuchden kneen sprecht / weir der m. in dem stait der ewig / verdoympnus de pyne sal eme werden gekeirt in pyne des vegevurs off zitliche pyne. sprecht mt andacht, incipit, “O goit Ihesu O mylde Ihesu O s. Ihesu O Ihesu eyn son der reynre yonfferen marien vol myldicht ind barmhertzicht…”;

Prayer to Christ for mercy, attributed here to Bernardino of Siena; appears to end incompletely.

ff. 45-61v, rubric, Dit is eyn oiffunge van viij dagen zo bereidungen des hilgen sacramentz krutlichen der nt vil zijtz en hait de lange aicht dage zo lissen off ir moicht it ouch veranderen als de slechte hogezijt moicht ir dese lissen ind de gr. festen de anderen de he na volgen, incipit, “Des eirsten dages so bawart vr hertz in nauwer hoiden van allen vnnutzen gedancken besonder in dem deynst gotz ind vren gebede Uren mont van allen mosichen idelen lichtuerdigen worden van aichterclaiffen ind murmereren…”;

Cycle of prayers for nine days, the first eight to prepare for the reception of the Eucharistic sacrament that takes place on the ninth day (ff. 60-61v). Three prayers are offered for each day, to Christ, to Mary, and to one of the nine angelic hierarchies.  The fourth day instructs the petitioner to strew the room with aromatic flowers and herbs (“dt huse bestrouwen mt wailruchende blomen ind gekrude”), and presents allegories of different flowers in the prayer to Christ.

ff. 62-115, rubric, Aicht dage sult ir vch vr bereiden zo der yntfenckenis des h sacramentz Tzo dem j sult ir eyn geistlich husgen bouwen mt gebede ind anheuen dat leuen ind liden xi zo ouerdencken ind halt vch dise viij dage in alre andacht Ee ir anhifft list dit gebet mt anda., incipit, “O Alre gemynste .s. here Ihesu xe myn got schepper ind verloisser ich arme sundersche vallen dr zo vose mt alre oitmodicht myns hertzen…”;

A cycle of prayers for recitation over eight days in preparation to receive the eucharistic sacrament. Each day requires the penitent to undertake a different task associated with domesticity: so to build a spiritual house of prayer; or to make Christ a shirt of snow-white linen sewn with gold and silver thread, and trousers of royal purple; or to paint the house and decorate it with silk tapestries. Christ is configured as the bridegroom, for whom the penitent bride undertakes the domestic duties of a housewife-to-be, approaching the nuptial ceremony of the Eucharist. The prayers are these duties, structured around a sequential consideration of the Passion narrative. The cycle culminates in a ceremony of marriage as the penitent nun receives the sacrament at the point of its origin from the blood of Christ shed on the cross. The final prayers upon reception of the sacrament are presented as making a wedding ring by which the nun renews her monastic profession, i.e. her marriage to Christ.

This cycle of prayers combines bridal mysticism with the contemplation of Christ’s Passion and preparation for sacramental reception of the Eucharist, inflected throughout with emblematic allegories of domestic life.

ff. 115-125v, rubric, Her na volget eyn geistliche wirtzschaff de vnsen leuen heren seir angeneme is ind he hait sy seluer sent mettiltis geoffenbairt wilch ir bereiden moicht wanne ir dat .h. sacrament intfangen wilt, incipit, “Dat eirste gericht sal syn honch in eynre silueren schoittelen Da by bezeichent is de soisse myne xpi de in gezogen hait vs dem schois syns vaders in dat reyn licham synre leuer moder List disen Exultate iusti in domino rectos decet collaudacio…”;

Prayers in thanksgiving for different aspects of the life of Christ, for recitation in preparation to receive the Eucharist, and presented as a series of six dishes and three fine wines with which to serve Christ.  The rubric frames this set of prayers as a ‘spiritual meal’ revealed by Christ to “saint Mechthild”, i.e. Mechthild von Hackeborn; it is adapted and expanded from her Liber specialis gratiae, pars 1, c. 14, pp. 46-47.

ff. 126-131v, rubric, Myt disen gebederen sult ir vr sele zeiren wanne ir zo dem h sacrament wilt gayn Ind ir moicht sy lessen wanne ir wilt bynen den aicht dagen off dem hogenzijtlichen auent, incipit, “O Alre gemynste here Ihesu xpe Ich begere ind bidden dich myt der meister demodicht myns hertzen durch de vrij leiffde in der du de edel nature hais angenomen…”;

Prayers to Christ (ff. 126-128) and Mary (ff. 128-131v), in which the penitent requests to be clothed with a particular garment, or decorated with a particular piece of jewellery, each worn by Christ and/or the Virgin, and each of which derives from their accumulated merits. In the first prayer, for example, the penitent notes that as Christ clothed himself at the incarnation in the snow white velvet of the Virgin’s flesh, in order to save mankind, so she requests to be clothed in a snow white underdress of holy innocence in forgiveness of her sins. The rubric explains that these prayers are for recitation in preparation to receive the Eucharist, or during Holy Week.

ff. 131v-237v, rubric, Den hogenzijtz auent des morgens moicht ir anheuen dat liden xpi koirtlichen zo ouerdencken off ir it bynen den aicht dagen nt bedaicht in hait Ind wanne ir koympt an sulche articulen da vns Ihesu syn bloit vsgesturt hait sult ir vr sele weschen van der vnreynnicht vrre sondenDisen seluen dage sult ir vch zo gode keiren na alle vrme vermogen Ind bereiden vch zo dem h sacrament Na vesperen off da vur bedenckt we ir vch na vrre bicht gehalden hait Sprecht den gemeynen confiteor ind bidt vnsen leuen heren vmb vergiffenys alre sonden Ind dar na moicht ir dise nageschreuen gebede lissen Ind wilche vch zo lanck geuallen moicht ir stayn laissen, incipit, “O leue here Ihesu xpe eyn vader alre barmhertzicht Ich arme sondersche dancken dynre vederlicher goiden de du myr bewyst hais in mencher wise…”;

Prayers for the eve prior to sacramental reception. The initial rubric explains that on the eve of the ecclesiastical feast the penitent should mentally recapitulate the events of Christ’s suffering. If short of time, then she should set aside all other prayer in order to do so, because this act of mental recapitulation is the greatest thanksgiving to God possible. The prayers that follow are for the evening prior to sacramental reception of the Eucharist: an introductory prayer after vespers (ff. 132-133v); prayers addressed to each of Christ’s four crucified limbs, his heart, and his head crowned with thorns (ff. 133v-137v); two prayers acknowledging sinfulness and seeking forgiveness (ff. 137v-138v), and the penitent is then instructed to recite six prayers in which Christ’s sacrifice is offered to God the Father, with the short text of Ps. 117 in Latin (“Laudate dominum, omnes gentes”) to come after each of the first five (ff. 138v-140), followed by three recitations of the Lord’s Prayer and Ave Maria before a final prayer closes the sequence (ff. 140r-v). Two further prayers suitable for recitation prior to sacramental communion (ff. 140v-142v) precede a new rubric (ff. 142v-143), explaining that as the evening proceeds, the penitent should now call upon Mary and all the saints to aid in preparation for reception. The corresponding prayer (ff. 143-144v) includes petitions to particular saints, starting with the penitent’s saint of particular devotion, Anna.  The next two prayers (ff. 144v-146) ask Mary and all the saints to assist the penitent to receive Christ worthily in the sacrament, and for Mary to intercede with Christ to that end. Then the penitent is instructed to return to prayers of thanksgiving and supplication to Christ (ff. 146-148v), prior to recitation of a prayer structured as ten vernacular Ave Marias, each responding to a particular Marian virtue, with a final invocation of her aid (ff. 148v-150). This text stands in the tradition of the Goldenes Ave Maria, but is quite different to those known to Burghart Wachinger (Wachinger, 1981, cols 80-84). The penitent is then to pray to God, Mary and all the saints to ask for their steadfast aid (ff. 150r-v).

The next group of prayers precede the set for recitation after compline are introduced as a prayer that, in its recitation prior to sacramental reception, exceeds the potential grace accrued by any good work (ff. 150v-152v).  The second is a petition to receive three spiritual balms: rosewater distilled from Christ’s heart, the red wine of his blood, and the sweetness of Christ’s heart itself (attributed here to Mechthild von Hackeborn, ff. 152v-154r; dependent on her Liber specialis gratiae, pars 3, c. 26, pp. 228-29).  Followed by two sets of three prayers to accompany recitations of the Lord’s Prayer and of Ps. 117 to secure Christ’s aid in order to receive the sacrament worthily, and a prayer to Christ addressed as highest priest and true bishop (ff. 155v-156v; explicitly for a conventual nun). A rubric indicates that the penitent should turn in prayer to Mary, who is addressed in the fifth through seventh prayers (ff. 156v-159).  The eighth and final unit is a set of three short prayers to beseech Mary’s aid, each to followed by the Ave Maria (ff. 159r-v).

The prayer cycle then returns to the chronological sequence: an extended rubric (ff. 159v-160) instructs the penitent to elevate her heart to God during the evening collation; to meditate on the intimate contact with her bridegroom after Compline; and to remain in thought with him during the night in her cell. A prayer is then recited to prepare her to pass the night safely (ff. 160-161).  At Matins, she is to recite the Office, think over the events of the Passion, and, if time permits, recite five further prayers to prepare for sacramental reception (ff. 161-164). Should time still remain, a prayer to the saints (ff. 164-165v) should be recited, followed by a series of invocations to Christ (ff. 166-167v), three prayers to Mary (ff. 167v-170), and another, short prayer to Christ (ff. 170r-v). The penitent is told to contemplate the Passion again during Prime.  During the early mass she is to imagine a voice speaking the words “Ecce sponsus venit, exite ouiam [sic] ei” (Mt. 25:6), and then proceed towards Christ with a short prayer (ff. 170v-171).  Falling at Christ’s feet, she should recite the general confession with the priest, followed by a further eight prayers to Christ, Mary, and finally the Holy Spirit (ff. 171-174v). Instructions and prayers are offered in rapid sequence for the elevation of the host (ff. 174v-175) and the exit from the choir stalls, the latter of which is equipped with five lengthy prayers to the Father, Christ, and Mary (ff. 175-178v). Should time permit, the events of the Passion are to be called to mind and a prayer to Mary recited on bended knee (ff. 178v-179). As the priest speaks the words of confession, the penitent should recite a confessional prayer to admit those sins committed since the last actual confession, and a further series of prayers to Christ and Mary as the moment of reception draws ever closer (ff. 179-180). A long rubric attempts to reduce the penitent’s fear of reception as the moment arrives, followed by a short sequence of final prayers to prepare for reception (ff. 180v-181v).

The moment of reception arrives, and the penitent is instructed not to keep the host in her mouth for too long in the hope of spiritual benefits, but to swallow it and then pray immediately to Christ. A prayer to greet Christ as bridegroom (ff. 181v-182v) is followed by a set of eight short prayers to welcome him into the soul (ff. 182v-183v), and two further prayers to ask Christ never to depart as the priest moves around with the sacrament (ff. 183v-184v). The next group of prayers allow the penitent to participate mentally, if not actually, in the offering of Christ’s blood (ff. 184v-186v). The penitent must again call to mind the Passion, as Christ stated at the Last Supper that the mass was instituted in his memory, by means of an appropriate prayer (ff. 186v-187v). Then, because God is most likely to grant requests made immediately upon reception of the sacrament, the penitent is directed to recite seven prayers to seek seven gifts, starting with the forgiveness of sins (ff. 187v-190v); Mary’s intercession is sought to secure those gifts (ff. 190v-191v).

A new rubric instructs the penitent to read whatever stirs her devotion most during the high mass, and offers various prayers suitable for recitation after communion from which she might choose (ff. 191v-203v). They include a set of prayers to Christ’s wounds (ff. 195v-197v), advertised in its rubric as five wounds, but actually seven: alongside the standard set of hands, feet, and heart are included Christ’s head crowned with thorns and his shoulder. The prayer to Christ’s shoulder wound is in this instance specifically crafted for recitation by an enclosed nun, beseeching mercy for her sisters and all who live in enclosure by holy obedience (on this wound, see Köpf, 1997, cols 745-46).

Three prayers accompany the instruction to elevate one’s heart in ardent devotion at the elevation, giving thanks for the sacrament that has been received (ff. 203v-205). The penitent is then to meditate on the Passion or read some other suitable text for the remainder of the mass, and after mass to pray to her guardian angel (ff. 205r-v). The next series of prayers accompanies her through the meal in the refectory (ff. 205v-209v), including prayers to be said when washing and drying hands before eating, and prayers to be recited internally, not spoken aloud, whilst eating and drinking. Prayers of thanksgiving, in Latin and German, to Christ and to Mary conclude the meal (ff. 209v-211), and the penitent is instructed to consider whether she has eaten or drunk beyond the absolutely necessary, because to have done so would hinder the influx of grace concomitant with sacramental reception (ff. 211r-v). Prayers then follow to accompany the grace at the end of the meal (f. 211v) and the distribution of alms to the poor, which is the occasion for prayers to aid poor souls in purgatory (ff. 211v-212). The mealtime prayers are concluded with three that offer the meal in supplication to Christ, Mary, and all the saints (ff. 212-213). Three prayers to Christ as bridegroom follow, though their particular function in the sequence is unspecified beyond their being suitable post-communion prayers (ff. 213-215v).

The next sequence of prayers accompanies the nun in seclusion in the afternoon, and aims to stimulate a more intimate connection with Christ. The first prayer invites Christ into the garden of the soul (ff. 215v-216v). It was known to Schmidtke from this manuscript, and called the Goslarer Gartengebet, after its location in the Sammlung Adam in Goslar (edited by Schmidtke, 1982, p. 542, but with incorrect folio numbers, ff. 115v-116v instead of 215v-216v). The Goslarer Gartengebet is accompanied by a lengthy rubric, which did not form part of Schmidtke’s edition, in which the penitent is instructed to plant a vine rootstock in her heart, this being the cross on which to imagine her bridegroom Christ crucified. The prayers that follow are interrupted by short responses from Christ speaking to the soul (ff. 216v-218v). Next, the penitent should ask her bridegroom for wedding gifts to cancel out her vices with which she distresses him, e.g. humility to counteract pride (ff. 218v-219v); twelve prayers unspecified beyond their suitability for recitation after sacramental reception follow (ff. 219v-222v). A new rubric directs the penitent to recite four long prayers to Mary (ff. 222v-226), then she receives three options: to recapitulate the events of the Passion; to read something else that will stimulate her devotion; or to recite three prayers (ff. 226-227).

The evening meal is accompanied by its own set of prayers, including short prayers on behalf of other souls (ff. 227-231v), and two longer prayers, the second a more extended spiritual almsgiving, asking to disburse grace from Christ’s treasury to various categories of person: these begin with “hardened sinners, pagans, Turks and heretics,” and extend through political leaders and the convent sisters to those who serve the convent and, ultimately, the poor and outcast (ff. 233v-236).  Prayers for recitation during compline (ff. 236r-v) and on retiring to bed (ff. 236v-237v) conclude the day; the penitent is instructed to spend half an hour in silent contemplation before sleep, with which the day ends.

ff. 238-248, Aicht dage lanck sult ir na dem hilgen sacrament feste halden Ind ir moicht eynen ederen dage dise gebeder eyn lissen na dem gezeichent steit Des eirsten dages list dit mt andacht, incipit, “O soisse gemynde here Ihesu xpe we sere haistu mich gemynt Dattu gesteren so goderteirlichen zo myr komen bijs in de vnreyne vnbereite wanunge myns hertzen…”;

Prayers for the full week after sacramental reception of the Eucharist, including a sequence of three invocations of praise (ff. 238-239), each to be accompanied by the Lord’s Prayer, and said to have been revealed by Christ to Mechthild von Hackeborn (“als vnse leue here s mettiltis ht geoffenbairt”, f. 238); loosely based on her Liber specialis gratiae, pars 3, c. 24, pp. 227-28.  The prayers for the final day are in Latin, beginning with “Ad te fontem misericordie accedo peccatrix” (ff. 245-246), attributed elsewhere to Thomas Aquinas but regarded as inauthentic (Grabmann, 1949, pp. 370-72), and followed by a litany (ff. 246-247v) and collects (ff. 247v-248).

ff. 248-255,  Hie begeynt de lange gulden lettanie van dem liden xpi de man gern sal lissen in doitz noiden ind ee man zo dem hilgen sacrament geit want vns l here Ihesus xps ht sy seluer geoffenbart eynre hilgen cloister jonfferen de genant was magdalena van friburch ind sprach begers du myr myn wonden zo saluen so bede dis lettanie, incipit, “Here erbarme dich mynre Xpe erbarme dich mynre Here erbarme dich mynre ind verleue vns kraff inwendich ind vsswendich dir zo denen na dyme alren .l. willen…”;

Magdalena von Freiburg, Goldene Litanei vom Leben und Leiden Jesu Christi; unedited, known from a total of 22 manuscripts (Online Resources), is consistently attributed to the notorious Poor Clare Magdalena von Freiburg (d.1458), also known as Magdalena Beutlerin and Magdalena von Kenzingen, after her paternal surname and place of birth respectively. It is not mentioned in her Verfasserlexikon entry (Dinzelbacher and Ruh, 1983, cols 1117-21), and its authenticity has yet to be the subject of a systematic study. In this version, the list of saints upon whose merits the penitent calls includes Augustine, addressed as “our beloved father,” in first place amongst the confessors, Eugenia and Cecilia as the first two of the virgins, and Anna as the first of the holy women and widows, with several other saints venerated especially in Cologne, like Eberigisil, and Ursula with the 11,000 virgins.

ff. 255-260v, Dit is dat gulden rosekrentzgen van dem hilgen sacrament dat ir ouch vr dem hilgen sacrament lissen moicht off ir de zit hait, incipit, “O goit Ihesu almechtige got der da spisses alle creaturen in hemel ind in erden bouen alle den dyn mt dyme alren hillichsten vleisch ind bloitz vur wilche du mois geloifft ind gebenedit syn in ewicht…”;

Fifty prayers, mostly very short, entitled the “Golden Rosary of the Holy Sacrament,” in praise of Christ as eucharistic food, here presented as an optional spiritual preparation for sacramental reception of the Eucharist.

ff. 260v-262v, Etzliche suuerliche vermaynungen zo dem hilgen sacrament, incipit, “O mynende sele woltu myrcken de wort de S ambrosius schrifft So weir it eyn gr. wonder dattu nt alzit eyn gr. verlangen en haitz na xpo der dt leuendige broit is…”;

Seven dicta attributed to St Ambrose, each pertinent to the Eucharist, with additional quotations from the Psalms, the Gospel of John, the Acts of the Apostles and Bernard of Clairvaux.

ff. 262v-355v, Hie begeynt koirtlichen dat leuen ind liden xpi in gebedtz weijsse sulch eyn m schuldich is zo ouerdrachten mt andacht ind hertzlichen geuoillen wanne he zo dem h sacrament sal gayn off he dat intfangen hait Want vns leue here seluer ht gesaicht so duck ir it doit sult ir it doyn in myn gedaichtenys Ee ir anhifft keirt vr hertz mt alre deuocien zo vnsen leuen heren ind bidt in vmb genade ind hulpe ind sprecht, incipit, “O leue here Ihesu xpe ich bidden dich mt alre oitmodicht myns hertzen verleue myr genade ind bystant dit werck also zo begynen ind verlucht myr myn hertz ind verstentenys…”;

Life and Passion of Christ, presented as a comprehensive sequence of prayers. The final quire is lost, and so the text ends incomplete, mid-way through the account of Christ’s Ascension. This manner of narrating the life of Christ as a sequence of prayers in the second person, in which Christ has his life ‘re-told’ to him by the penitent, had a long-standing late medieval tradition in Latin and the Dutch and German vernaculars (Hamburer and Palmer, 2015, vol.1, pp. 450-58).  A similar (the same?) sequence is to be found in Darmstadt, UuLB, Hs. 1891, f. 315v et seq., one of the set of manuscripts from St. Cäcilien in Cologne to which this manuscript very likely belongs.


Achten, Gerard, and Hermann Knaus. Deutsche und niederländische Gebetbuchhandschriften der Hessischen Landes- und Hochschulbibliothek Darmstadt, Darmstadt,1959.

Boeff, Regine. “»zum ansehen, zum zeugnis, zum gedechtnis, zum zeychen«. Reformatorische Ikonographie auf den Büchern der Kölner Evangelischen Gemeindebibliothek und der Bibliothek des Stadtkirchenverbandes,” in Wolfgang Schmitz, ed., »das auch die guten bücher behallten und nicht verloren werden«. Die Evangelische Bibliothek in der Universitäts- und Stadtbibliothek Köln, Schriften der Universitäts- und Stadtbibliothek Köln 18, Cologne, 2007, pp. 139-83.

Dinzelbacher, Peter, and Kurt Ruh. “Magdalena von Freiburg (M. Beutlerin),” 2Verfasserlexikon 3, 1983, cols 1117-21.

Grabmann, Martin. Die Werke des hl. Thomas von Aquin. Eine literarhistorische Untersuchung und Einführung, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittelalters. Texte und Untersuchungen 22, Münster, 31949, repr. 1967.

Gückel, Irene. Das Kloster Maria zum Weiher vor Köln (1198-1474) und sein Fortleben in St. Cäcilien bis zur Säkularisation, Kölner Schriften zu Geschichte und Kultur 19, Cologne, 1993.

Hamburger, Jeffrey F., and Nigel F. Palmer, The Prayer Book of Ursula Begerin. Art-Historical and Literary Introduction, 2 vols, Dietikon-Zürich, 2015.

Köpf, Ulrich. “Passionsfrömmigkeit,” Theologische Realenzyklopädie 27, 1997, 722-64.

Mechthild von Hackeborn. Revelationes Gertrudianae ac Mechtildianae, vol. 2, Sanctae Mechtildis virginis Ordinis Sancti Benedicti Liber specialis gratiae accedit sororis Mechtildis ejusdem ordinis Lux divinitatis, ed. Benedictine Monks of Solesmes, Paris, 1877.

Ruh, Kurt. “Gregor der Große”, 2Verfasserlexikon 3, 1981, cols 233-44.

Schmidtke, Dietrich. Studien zur dingallegorischen Erbauungsliteratur des Spätmittelalters. Am Beispiel der Gartenallegorie, Hermaea. Germanistische Forschungen N.F. 43, Tübingen, 1982.

Schunke, Ilse. “Der Kölner Rollen- und Platteneinband im 16. Jahrhundert”, in eadem, ed., Beiträge zum Rollen- und Platteneinband im 16. Jahrhundert. Konrad Haebler zum 80. Geburtstage am 29. Oktober 1937 gewidmet, Sammlund bibliothekswissenschaftlicher Arbeiten 46, Leipzig, 1937, pp. 311-97.

Wachinger, Burghart. “Goldenes Ave Maria”, 2Verfasserlexikon 3, 1981, cols 80-84.

Online Resources

Cologne, Universitäts- und Stadtbibliothek, Digitale Einbandsammlung, work of Batius Koch


Handschriftencensus: Magdalena von Freiburg, Goldene Litanei vom Leben und Leiden Jesu Christi, manuscript transmission

Handschriftencensus, entry for this manuscript

Karl-und-Faber-Kunst- und Literaturantiquariat, Auktion XV. Bibliothek Dr. J. Häberlin (Frankfurt a. M.) und andere Beiträge, Munich, 1937.

Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts

TM 823