TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Processional and Responsorial

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Spain, Basque Country (Province of Alava?) or Rioja?, c. 1500-1525

TM 648

81 folios, preceded by 4 flyleaves and followed by 4 flyleaves, missing text after the tenth quire and after the singleton at the end, missing also a leaf between ff. 40 and 42 (collation i6, ii10, iii6, iv10, v6, vi9 [of a quire of 10, wanting 3, f. 41], vii6, viii10, ix8, x8 [missing a quire after this one], xi1 [a singleton, originally a quire of 4 or 6?, wanting at the end]), contemporary foliation in red Roman numerals, written in a rounded liturgical script, in brown ink, square musical notation in brown ink on five-line staves traced in red ink (justification: 150 x 95 mm), rubrics in bright red, initials in blue or red (one stave high) with red or purple calligraphic pen flourishing, other cadels also a single stave high, some highlighted in green and pale yellow(a few with human profiles, e.g. f. 7v, 38). Bound in rigid vellum binding (late 19th or early 20th c.), smooth spine, inscription on the spine: “Processionale Barcinonense” [Processional for Barcelona]. Dimensions 185 x 130 mm.

This example of a comprehensive Processional includes the processions for the Sundays throughout the liturgical year as well as for special feast days and for Rogation Days. Classified as Responsorial Processionals because of technical details in their text, they are one of the most widely disseminated types of Processionals, mostly dating after c. 1500. The present copy can be tied to Spain, probably to the Basque region in the province of Álava where St. Prudence is particularly honored. Traces of use use well into the seventeenth century are found in the margins.


1. Copied and decorated for use in the Iberian Peninsula, likely in the Basque Region rather than in Barcelona (Catalunia), as the title added on the spine suggests (Processionale Barcinonense). A date of circa 1500-1525 would fit with the script and ornementation (cadels). There is a later nineteenth century collector’s note (see below) that indicates the manuscript was purchased in the province of Álava. This of course does not necessarily mean the manuscript was produced in the early sixteenth-century for use in the Province of Álava, but the presence of a number of saints venerated in the Basque Country, (in particular in the province of Álava), indeed supports a Basque Álava origin for this Processional.

The Álava or Araba (in Basque), officially Álava, is a province of Spain and a historical territory of the Basque Country, heir of the ancient Lord of Álava. Its capital city is Vitoria-Gasteiz. It borders the Basque provinces of Biscay and Gipuzkoa to the north, the region of La Rioja to the south, the province of Burgos (in the community of Castile and León) to the west and the region of Navarre to the east. 

In the litany, one notes Saint Prudence (Feast 28 April), patron saint of the the province of Álava (see W. Webster, “Prudence et les Basques”, in Bulletin hispanique (1903), vol. 5, pp. 231-248). There is a Basilica dedicated to Saint Prudence of Armentia in Vitoria-Gasteiz. Other noteworthy saints in the litany are Vincent, Sebastian, Martin, Gaudiose, Justa and Rufina (venerated in Sevilla, but whose patronage spread accross the Iberian peninsula including the Basque country). There is a Church dedicated to Saints Justa and Rufina in Erriberagoitia (Ribera Alta, town of Villaluenga, province of Álava). Saints Vincent, Sebastian and Martin (of Tours) were all venerated in the Basque region, with a number of churches dedicated to those saints. 

Another path to be explored is the possible origin of this codex to be found in the vicinity of the important Benedictine and then Cistercian abbey of San Prudencio de Monte Laturce, located at the border of the Álvala (Basque) region and the Rioja just south of the province of Álava. San Prudencio de Monte Laturce was a daughter house of San Martin de Albelda (also Rioja region, bordering immediately south of the Álava Basque region).

2. A name of a seventeenth-century owner is copied twice in the margins of f. 81v: “Mayo 23 – Mossem Juan Gascon anno 1666 (?)” and f. 82v: “Juan Gascon anno 1663.” Another inscription reads “Blas Laborda infante de choro” [Blas Laborda, choirboy] (f. 4v). A few pen trials pepper the manuscript, with the names “Amara” (f. 30) and “Defensor” (f. 31v); a face drawn in the margin (f. 55v)

3. Jules Bonhomme, priest and collector of liturgical books, his annotation on the recto of the second paper flyleaf : “Acheté dans la province d’Alava. Bonhomme. 1885.”  He was a musicologist and author of numerous liturgical studies including Principes d’une véritable restauration du chant Grégorien (Paris, 1857) and the introduction to Les principaux chants liturgiques conformes au chant publié par Pierre Valfray en 1669 traduits en notation musicale (Paris, 1875).


ff. 1-2v, Procession for the aspersion of Holy water, rubric, Ad aspersionem aque dominicis diebus; incipit, “Asperges me...”;

ff. 2v-9v, Processions from Advent to Nativity, rubric, Dominica prima adventus domini responsorium; incipit, “Aspiciebam in visu noctis...”; final rubric, Dominica quarta adventus domini;

ff.9v-14, Processions from Epiphany to Septuagesima (Ninth Sunday before Easter) rubric, Ad dominica prima post octavas epiphanie usque ad dominicam LXX...;

ff. 14v-28, Processions from Septuagesima to Palm Sunday (including Lent; not including Palm Sunday), rubric, A dominica in LXX usque ad dominicam in ramis palmarum exclusive; for Sexagesima (second Sunday before Ash Wednesday), rubric, Dominica in sesagessima (f. 16v); for Quinquagesima (Sunday before Ash Wednesday), rubric, Dominica in quinquagessima (f. 17v); rubric, Dominica prima in quadragessima (f. 20); rubric, Dominica in passione (f. 26);

ff. 28-54, Procession for Palm Sunday, rubric, Dominica in ramis palmarum cantata prima...; rubric  Sabbato sancto finitis lecionibus et orationibus: sit paratus sacerdos...(f. 49); followed by Kyrie and litany; noteworthy saints include: Stephen, Vincent, Gaudiose, Prudence, Justa and Rufina (ff. 50-51v);

ff. 54-72, Procession for Easter, rubric, In die sancto pasche finita tercia...; In die resurrectionis domini nostri ihesu christi responsorium (f. 55v); Procession for Rogation Days, rubric, Dominica in albis octava pasche responsorium. Et dicitur omnibus diebus dominicis usque ad ascensionem; rubric, Feria secunda in rogationibus ad processionem in letaniis...(f. 60); rubric, Qua finita cantetur alia de resurrectione vel de beata... (ff. 61-61v);

ff. 72-74v, Procession for Ascension, rubric, In festo ascensionis domini in exitu antiphona; incipit, “Non prohis rogo tantum...”;

ff. 74v-76, Procession for Pentecost, rubric, In die sancto penthecostes responsorium;

ff. 76-77v, Procession for Trinity, rubric, In festo sanctissime trinitatis in processione responsorium;

ff. 78-81v, Procession for the Feast of Corpus Christi, rubric, In festo corporis christi responsorium; with Pange lingua (f. 80) [wanting ending];

ff. 82-82v, Procession for the second Sunday after Trinity last rubric, Dominica .ii. post trinitatem responsorium. Et dicitus omnibus diebus dominicis usque ad adventum; incipit, “Preparate corda vestra domino...” [wanting ending].

This is a noted Processional, a portable book of small format that contains the chants of the ritual processions prescribed by the Roman missal for Candlemas (2 February), Palm Sunday and Rogation days (the three days preceding Thursday of the Ascension). A Processional also includes chant for the processions that preceded Mass chanted on Sundays and feast days. Unlike the Gradual or the Antiphonal, a Processional is not an “official” service book, but rather a book for the personal use of singers. The processional antiphons found in the Gradual were transfered to a smaller book that could be carried during procession, the liber processionarius or processionale.

There are different types of Processionals (described and distinguished by Huglo, 1999). This particular Processional and the texts and music included fits the type described by Huglo in Table IV (Huglo, 1999): the Processional-Responsorial is indeed the most widely distributed type of Processional, with the manuscripts dating for the most part after 1500. Distinguishing characteristics between Castillan, Catalan and Basque liturgies and processions has not yet been fully mapped out. In his study on Processionals, Huglo signals only some 40 Processionals in Spanish institutional holdings (Huglo, 1999, vol. I). To be fair, there are a supplementary 35 Processionals that are described in vol. II (Huglo, 2004, vol. II). Still, 75 extant Processionals is relatively few in comparison to France, for instance (with a count of 206 Processionals of French origin in Huglo, 2004, vol. II).


Crépin-Leblond, T. et alia. Un air de Renaissance. La musique au XVIe siècle, Paris, 2013.

Gy, P. M. “Collectaire, rituel, processional”, Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques 44 (1960), pp. 441-69.

Hughes, A. “Medieval Liturgical Books in Twenty-Three Spanish Libraries. Provisional Inventories”,Traditio 38 (1982), pp. 365-384.

Huglo, M. Les livres de chant liturgique, Typologie des sources du moyen âge occidental, 52, Turnhout, Brepols, 1988.

Huglo, Michel. “Processional”, in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 20, London, 2001, pp. 388-393.

Huglo, M. Les manuscrits du Processional, Volume I, Autriche à Espagne, Répertoire international des sources musicales B XIV (1), Munich, 1999.

Huglo, M. Les manuscrits du Processional, Volume II, France à Afrique du Sud, Répertoire international des sources musicales B XIV (2), Munich, 2004.

Janini, J. Manuscritos liturgicos de las Bibliotecas de Espana. Vol. II, Aragon, Cataluna y Valencia, Burgos, 1980.

Palazzo, Eric. A History of Liturgical Books from the Beginning to the Thirteenth Century, translated by Madeline Beaumont, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1998.

Plummer, John. Liturgical Manuscripts for the Mass and Divine Office, New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, 1964.

Rodriguez Suso, Carmen. La monodia liturgica en el Pais Vaso. Fragmentos con notacion musical de los siglos XII al XVIII, Biblioteca musical del Pais Vasco, Bilbao, 1993.

Online resources

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

General introduction to liturgical processions; (New Catholic Encyclopedia, “Processions”)