TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Legendary or Passional

In Latin, manuscript on paper
[Germany (Bavaria), Würzburg-on-Main, circa 1465-1470]

TM 57

237 folios, preceded by [2] blank folios, half of upper [I] and back [II] flyleaves covered with notes copied in a tight abbreviated script (biblical content), mostly in quires of 12 (i10, ii8, iii12, iv10, v12, vi12, vii12, viii12, ix12, x12, xi12, xii12, xiii12, xiv12, xv12, xvi12, xvii12, xviii12, xix12, xx16), on paper with watermarks close to Briquet 11800-11802 “Monts, Montagnes”: Würzburg, 1472 and Würzburg, 1465-1469 and Briquet 14874 “Tête de bœuf”: Würzburg, 1461-1490, text complete, written on up to 30 long lines (justification: 100 x 155 mm), in brown ink in a abbreviated cursive script in two hands, numerous marginal annotations and addenda throughout (at least 4 other different hands), rubrics in red, paragraph marks in red, occasional hands pointing in the margin in brown ink, some initials in red, running titles and headings in red, ruled in light plummet, some catchwords, quire signatures. Bound in a CONTEMPORARY BINDING of half pigskin over wooden boards, second half of boards covered with parchment pastedowns (4-line staves and hoefnagel neumes from a fifteenth-century music manuscript) spine sewn on 3 thongs, title in ink: Legenden manuscript, remains of brass clasp, some wormholes affecting the boards but generally sound. Dimensions: 150 x 220 mm.

An interesting testimony for German martyrology securely localized in the diocese of Würzburg and containing many local references. Almost certainly made during the tenure, and perhaps at the mandate, of the well-known bishop Rudolf von Schereberg (reigned 1466-95), who is regarded as the second founder of the diocese of Würzburg, the present Passional in fresh condition also preserves a fine contemporary binding.


1. Written in and for the use of Würzburg, based on the inclusion of local saints, the dedication to the church of Würzburg, and the watermarks from southern Germany. Included are the following saints: Saints Boniface (ff. 64v-66), Affra (ff. 116-118v), Kunegunda (ff. 147v-148), but above all saint Kilian (feast 8 July), all of whom are saints particularly venerated in Würzburg-on-Main (Bavaria). Kilian, an Irish monk, was apostle of Franconia and patron saint of the Würzburg: he is quoted extensively on folios 91v-95 and again on folio 118v and in the margin of folio 173v (see Réau, Iconographie de l’art chrétien…, tome III [Iconographie des saints], vol. II, pp. 780-781). That these saints received particular veneration in Würzburg can be confirmed by reference to Missals for the use of Würzburg printed before 1570, where these last four mentioned are found in the calendar and Saint Kilian is also found listed in the Libera nos prayer at the end of the Canon. Actually both Saint Boniface and Saint Kilian are "red letter days" in these early printed missals from Würzburg (Missals described in Alès, Description des livres liturgiques…, n° 247, Würzburg, G. Reyser, 1484, and n° 248, Würzburg, G. Monerii, 1509). The Dedication of the Church of Würzburg occurs on f. 173v: In dedicacione maiorum ecclesie Herb[ipolensis]). “Herbipolensis” (“City of Herbs”) is the Latin form for Würzburg. The Cathedral of Würzburg, dedicated to saint Kilian, is one of the major Romanesque Cathedrals in Germany. Würzburg provenance is further secured by the watermarks that all point to paper produced in Southern Germany, and even in Würzburg itself. The approximate date of copy is inferred from paper and script.

2. Private Collection


ff. 1-53v, Rubric, De sanctis ab adventu Domini usque ad pasca in vigilia sanci Andree apostoli occurit natale sanctorum Saturnini Crisanti Mauri et Darie virginis ubi in primis vel agitur de ferialiter de martiribus cum collecta; Incipit, Sanctorum martirum tuorum Domine Saturnini … (f. 53v,“Ex breviario. Nota si festum Ambrosii in diem…”);

ff. 54-194v, Rubric, Incipit de sanctis a Pasca usque ad adventum Domini et primo commune sanctorum a Pasca ad Penthecosten de uno martire vel uno confessore, in primis vesperis super pars feriales ante festum est celebre antiphonam; f. f. 173v, Rubric, In dedicacione maiorum ecclesie Herb[ipolensis] ecclesie semper occurit in die sancti Columbani in primis vel super pars antiphonam; f. 194v, Added Calendar (change of script): in the margin: [Freytag synodus (?) ad sancti Martini in anno 1482 [episcopum] [heydelberg…] [suo]; feasts: Othmar; Martin; Elizabeth; Pentecost; Cecilia; Clement, pope; Crisogonus; Katherine; Mercurius; Saturninus/Crisantus/Maurus/Darius; Andrew; Advent;

ff. 195–197v, Underlined in red (change of script), “In festo presentacionibus ad matutinas invitatorium votis et votibus laudantes…”;

ff. 198-236, Rubric, Incipit commune sanctorum et primo de apostolis de uno vel de pluribus in primis vesperis super pars feriales antiphonam. 214, Rubric (change of script), In festum plurimorum confessorum ad usus super prius feriales antophona; f. 236v, Underlined in red (change of script), “Commendacio angelici super psalterium excerpta de libro psalmorum scripta aureus literis per totum quam dedit Karolus imperator ecclesie Bremensi. Nam canticum psalmorum”; f. 237, Underlined in red : “Isidorius bonum est sono vocis…” ; In red, “Finis laus Deo.”

A Passional, sometimes called a Legendary, contains a collection of lives of the saints recited and celebrated in the liturgy (as opposed to a libellus dedicated to the life, miracles, and passion of a single saint) and intended to honor the saints. They vary widely in their selection of saints and of texts (containing narratives of variable length in which are recounted the life, martyrdom, translation of relics or miracles of the saints), but their order normally follows that of the liturgical year.

This particular legendary was composed for the use of the Church of Würzburg (see Provenance above), no doubt under Bishop Rudolph von Scherenberg (1466-95). He raised the diocese to a very flourishing condition, so that he was regarded as the second founder of the bishopric, successor to Saint Boniface himself, who established a diocese there in 741, when he consecrated his friend Saint Burchard as bishop. Saint Burchard (741-53) built the first cathedral church and buried there the bodies of Saint Kilian and his companions. The present legendary may have been copied under his mandate. The Breviary quoted on folio 53v (“Ex breviario…”) could be the Breviary for the use of Würzburg: an early printed copy (Spira, Peter Drach, 1477) of this Breviary is described in Alès, Description des livres de liturgie…, n° 250.

The most famous of all Passionals is Jacobus de Voragine’s Legenda Aurea or “Golden Legend,” but local Passionals exist most often for monastic use in the High Middle Ages. Compared with other types of liturgical texts—Breviaries, Missals, Epistles, Evangeliaries, and so forth-- Passionals and Legendaries are relatively rare. They provide valuable insight into local traditions of veneration.


Alès, Anatole. Description des livres de liturgie imprimés aux XVe et XVIe siècles…, Paris, A. Hennuyer, 1878.

Cramer, Thomas. Würzburg, 1937.

Emmerich, F. Der heilige Kilian, Regionarbischof und Martyrer, Würzburg, 1896.

Hughes, Andrew. Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1982.

Wittstadt, Klaus and Wolfgang Weiss. Das Bistum Würzburg. 2, Kirche und Glaube im Hoch- und Spätmittelalter Leben und Auftrag einer Ortskirche im Wandel der Zeit, Strasbourg : Éd. du Signe, 1997.

Wendehorst Alfred. Die Bistümer der Kirchenprovinz Mainz. 4, Das Bistum Würzburg. Das Stift Neumünster in Würzburg, Berlin, W. de Gruyter, 1989

[Calendrier liturgique (Würzburg, Allemagne)]. Incipit agenda. Et primo dominicis diebus ad aspergendu... (S. l.),1482. [preceded by a pastoral letter by the bishop of the diocese, Rudolph, dated 1482 [Agenda Ecclesia Herbipolensis]] (Paris, BnF, B-499).

[Breviary for the use Würzburg]. In nomine Domini Amen. Incipit breviarium de omnibus que cantanda et legenda sunt per anno circulum in choro sancti Kyliani et sociorum eius. […] Explicit breviarium novum de Tempore et de sanctis per totum anni circulum secundum chorum sancti Kyliani Herbipolensis, [Spira], [Peter Drach], [1477].

Online resources



On St. Kilian:

On Würzburg: