TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Missal (Use of Rome; Calendar for Rodez)

In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
Southern France (Rodez? Toulouse ?), c. 1475 (after 1472)
5 historiated initials by a local artist (Rodez?)

TM 784

240 ff., wanting leaves [collation: i6, ii3 (of 4, missing iv), iii8, iv8, v10, vi10, vii10, viii10, ix10, x9 (of 10, missing x), xi10, xii10, xiii8 (of 10, missing v et vi), xiv7 (of 8, missing vii, no text missing), xv4 (of 10, missing i-iv, ix-x), xvi10, xvii6 (of 10, missing ii, iv-v, x), xviii7 (of 10, missing i-ii et iv), xix10, xx9 (of 10, missing ix), xxi10, xxii7 (of 10, missing viii-x), xxiii10, xxiv8, xxv8 (of 10, missing ix-x), xxvi8 (of 10, missing i et v xxvii10, xxviii10, xxix6], written in a gothic liturgical script in dark brown ink, text in 2 columns with 30 lines of text per column (justification: 195 x 130 mm), rubrics in red, contemporary foliation in red (Roman numerals), parchment ruled in light red ink, square musical notation on 4-line staves traced in red, numerous burnished gold initials on dark pink or blue grounds highlighted in white tracery (1- to 4-lines high), a few initials decorated with gold besants and burnished gold vine leaves on hair-line stems, 5 historiated initials (ff. 170v, 182v, 195v, 200, 204v), with illuminated bracket-borders with colored acanthus leaves, gold besants and vine leaves, flowers, fruits and leaves on reserved grounds. Bound in a tanned calf binding of the 18th century, spine sewn on 5 raised bands, gilt lettering on spine “Missale Romanum”, edges stained in red (Leather lacking at head and foot of spine; boards scratched and scuffed, binding in need of restoration but stitching sturdy; first leaf rubbed; some leaves rubbed but generally in good legible condition; some flaking to historiated initial f. 195v). Dimensions 205 x 286 mm.

This Missel for the Roman Rite includes a calendar and a few masses for local use in the diocese of Rodez. Rodez was one of three dioceses in France that followed the Roman Rite. The Missal preserves five very fine historiated initials, painted by a local artist from Rodez or perhaps the nearby larger center of Toulouse, that bears stylistic comparisons with one of the artists who painted three miniatures in a Book of Hours now in Rodez (Rodez, BM, MS 138). Liturgical manuscripts for the use of Rodez are scarce (less than twenty survive from the fifteenth century).


1. Roman Missel copied for use in Rodez. This is confirmed by the unambiguous presence of the Feast of the Dedication of the Church of Rodez included in the Calendar (f.3): “Dedicatio ecclesie ruthenensis” (1 May). In addition, the Calendar presents a number of saints venerated specifically in Rodez or in Southern France (see Text below). One should signal in particular Saints Amans, Naamas, Clair, Dalmas (Dalmacius), Grat. In addition the Masses for the Sanctorale (Proprium sanctorum) includes two masses for saints worshiped in Rodez, and not found in a Missal for the sole use of Rome: these are Naamas and Amans (f. 208). There was in Rodez the important Benedictine abbey of Saint-Amans whose church was second in importance to the Cathedral.

A terminus post quem date of 1472 is advanced here because the Calendar reflects the Calendar reforms passed in 1472 by Bishop Bertrand de Chalencon. Had the Missal been copied before 1472, surely the traditional Roman Calendar would have been copied rather than the newly adopted Calendar for Rodez (see Desachy, M., Incunables albigeois…, 2005, pp. 98-99).

2. A number on the first flyleaf (later 18th c. hand ?), perhaps a shelfmark: “No. 49.”

3. France, Private Collection.


ff. 1-6v, Calendar, in red and black, with the following noteworthy Rouergat or Rodez saints: Medardi and Marii (8 June); Geniès (25 Aug.), Naamas (2 Nov.), Dalmazy or Dalmas (two churches are placed under the patronage of this saint; 13 Nov.), Amans (Bishop of Rodez, 4 Nov. duplex maius), Clair (Bishop from the Albigeois, 1 June); Grat (Grathus apud Ruthenos) (16 Oct.). Direct confirmation of use for Rodez is suggested by the entry “Dedicatio ecclesie ruthenensis” [Dedication of the Church of Rodez] (1 May). On Rouergat saints, see J. Delmas, Les Saints en Rouergue (2 parts), Espalion, Musée du Rouergue, 1986-1987; also see the publication Un livre d’heures à l’usage de Rodez (2003), pp. 28-30. In addition to the saints honored in Rodez, the following saints are particularly honored in southern France: Radegonda (13 Aug.), Foy (6 Oct.), Trojécie (8 June); Gilles (1 Sept.); Guéraud (Geraldus) (13 Oct.); Martial (30 June); James (25 July); Saturnin (Sernin) (29 Nov.); Vincent (22 Jan.); Leonard (7 Nov.).

The Calendar for the use of Rodez underwent a well-documented reform under the episcopate of Bertand de Chalencon in October 1472. There is a copy of a Breviary now in Rodez that was printed in Albi (Johannes Neumeister, 1482) for use in Rodez (Rodez, BM, M 60). The Roman Calendar was modified by hand with added saints Radegonde, Foy, Quitterie, Trojécie, Geniès, Naamas, Dalmas and Amans and there are supplementary manuscript leaves before the Proper of the Saints that provide details on the reform undertaken by Bishop Bertrand de Chalencon. The present Calendar was copied evidently after the reform (Desachy, 2005, pp. 98-99).

ff. 7-9v, Exorcism of salt and water, rubric, Incipit exorcimus in dominicis diebus et primo exorcismus salis; incipit, “Exorciso te creatura salis...”; rubric, Post aspersione oratio; explicit, “[...] et redemptorem dominum nostrum ihesum christum qui tecum”;

ff. 10-107v, Selected mixed Masses for the Temporale [Proprium de tempore] (and a few for the Sanctorale), beginning with the second Sunday in Advent (missing leaf with mass for the first Sunday in Advent and the beginning of the Mass for the second Sunday in Advent), rubric, Dominica in adventu domini introitus, followed by the third to sixth Sundays in Advent, Stephen, John the Evangelist, Thomas, Christmas day, Epiphany, Lent, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Easter, Resurrection;

ff. 108-111, Gloria and Creed (missing beginning), noted;

ff. 111-118v, Prefaces (missing ending), noted;

ff. 119-122v, Canon of the Mass (missing beginning and ending), with first rubric, Hic accipiat hostias; last rubrics, Hic frangit hostiam; Deinde frangit unam partem in duas partes;

ff. 123-164, Masses for the Temporale [Proprium de tempore] (missing beginning and ending), for Ascension, Pentecost

ff. 164-209v, Masses for the Sanctorale [Proprium sanctorum] (missing beginning and ending), beginning with Saturninus; diverging from the Roman Missal, there are masses for Naamas (f. 208); Amans (f. 208). These saints are not usually found in a Missel for the use of Rome and have been included because of their importance for the diocese of Rodez. This is another confirmation that the Missal although for the general use of Rome, was destined for liturgical use in Rodez. There is a leaf missing before f. 208 (where one finds the masses for Naamas and Amans) and there were most likely a few other “ruthénois” saints and perhaps even a historiated initial.  

ff. 210-240v, Masses for the Common of the Saints [Commune sanctorum] (missing beginning and ending).

This manuscript is a Missal that follows the Roman Rite, but that presents liturgical elements that prove it was copied for specific use in the diocese of Rodez (France, Rouergue, modern department of Aveyron). Although lacking some leaves (it is missing isolated leaves and also the greater part of the Canon of the Mass, most likely originally preceded by a miniature or historiated intial), it is nonetheless an important addition to the scant number of books for the confirmed liturgical use of the diocese of Rodez. The diocese of Rodez in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was bordered by that of Cahors to the north-west, that of Albi to the south and Mende to the north-east. The diocese corresponds more or less to the historical region of Rouergue bounded on the north by Auvergne, on the south and southwest by Languedoc, on the east by Gévaudan and on the west by Quercy. Its historical capital is Rodez.

This Missal was apparently copied during the episcopate of Bertrand de Chalencon (1457-1494) who was a member of powerful the Chalancon-Polignac family, and an important prelate, patron of the arts and local builder (see C. Barrau, “Deux ‘flamboyants’ commanditaires: les évêques de Rodez Guillaume de la Tour et Bertrand de Chalencon (XVe siècle)”, in Le commanditaire, l’artiste et l’œuvre: histoire de la création artistique en Rouergue et dans ses marges (XVe-XVIIIe siècle), Société des Lettres, sciences et Arts de l’Aveyron- Rodez, 2013). Bertrand de Chalencon was also a reformer (see his reform of the Calendar for the diocese of Rodez) and a patron in particular of the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Rodez.

Manuscripts for the confirmed use of Rodez and its diocese are scarce or have not yet been correctly identified. There are fewer than twenty surviving liturgical manuscripts for use in the diocese of Rodez of the 1440 manuscripts known in the 1450s (see Lemaitre, 1984).  Amongst the brief list of confirmed books for the liturgical use of Rodez, there are two fourteenth-century Missals: Rodez, BM, MS 19; Bibliothèque de l’évêché de Rodez, Missal (no shelfmark). A fifteenth-century missal is described in Leroquais, Sacramentaires et missels manuscrits, III, pp. 215-216: this is Lyon, BM, MS 5124 (dated 1479). The first printed Missal for the use of Rodez was printed in the sixteenth century: Missale secundum usum ecclesie Ruthenensis, s.l.n.d. [Lyon, c. 1540]. There are later liturgical manuscripts as well. One should also signal the lavish Missal-Breviary (use of Rodez) in Clermont-Ferrand, BM, MS. 59 (c. 1470s).  In 2001, the city of Rodez acquired a Book of Hours for the use of Rodez, with a calendar clearly for use in Rodez, very close to the calendar found in the present Missal. The interesting aspect of the Calendar in the Rodez Book of Hours is that it is redacted in Occitan (see Un livre d’heures à l’usage de Rodez, 2003)), whereas the Calendar in our Missal is in Latin. There are two other Books of Hours for the use of Rodez: Paris, BnF, MS nal 3196 (c. 1430-1460) and Glasgow, Mitchell Library, MS 308857. The fact that one can list quite briefly the known codices for confirmed liturgical use in Rodez corroborates the scarcity of this Missal.

Rodez is the first diocese to have adopted the Missal and Breviary that followed exclusively the Roman Rite (in 1293), before Albi (1296): “Item quod in choro ecclesie Ruthenensis servietur ordo Romane ecclesie, secundum rubricas breviarii et missalis juxta dicte Romane ecclesie consuetudinem quam sequantur in choro cantantes etiam et legentes” (see P.-M. Gy, “La Cathédrale et la liturgie dans le Midi de la France” quoted in La cathédrale (XIIe-XIVe siècles), Toulouse, 1995 (Cahiers de Fanjeaux, 30), p. 225). Still by the sixteenth century, only three French dioceses had adopted exclusively the Roman Rite (Rodez, Albi and Avignon) (Desachy: “Or à cette époque, seuls trois diocèses français ont adopté le rit romain: Albi, Rodez et Avignon” (Desachy, 2004)).

We cannot say with certainty for which Church (or for the Cathedral) this manuscript was copied. It could be for the Church of Saint-Amans in Rodez, given the importance of the saint in the Calendar and the added Mass in the Proper of Saints. But Amans was venerated in Rodez in general and could also very well have been honored in other parishes of the diocese. The rediscovery of the excised leaves might reveal more details and allow for a better identification. Still in itself, a Missal from Rodez is a rarity and its refined historiated initials are to be included towards our better knowledge of manuscript production in Southern France and in the Rouergue in particular.


Certain leaves have been excised (exact number of leaves that actually contained illumination is difficult to assess). Currently, the Missal contains five historiated initials:

f. 170v, Presentation in the Temple;

f. 182v, Saints Pierre and Paul;

f. 195v, Assumption of the Virgin;

f. 200, Nativity of the Virgin (reclining woman (Anne, mother of the Virgin) with bare breasts, new-born is swaddled; a man (Joachim) in the back-ground with his index and thumb raised);

f. 204v, Archangel Michael killing the dragon.

There must have been other historiated initials in this manuscript, and in all likelihood a Crucifixion facing the Te igitur (Canon of the Mass) or even a double page with Crucifixion facing God enthroned or a Trinity. 

Notwithstanding, the five historiated initials that have been preserved are very minute and delicate, with fine facial traits, saturated colors, long and pale bodies (e.g. Nativity of the Virgin Mary), adopting almost theatrical gestures. Little is in fact known about local workshops in Southern France, their artists and their relation to workshops based in larger cities such as Toulouse: “Nous n’avons malheureusement que très peu d’informations sur les peintres enlumineurs en Rouergue au XVe siècle. Un testament nous donne toutefois le nom d’un artiste du temps, Maitre Artus. Dans son legs du 26 mars 1502, Jean de Banis, pretre, docteur en droit canon, prieur de Ceignac et de Frons, dote la chapelle qu’il souhaite voir édifier dans l’enceinte du cimetière de Ceignac, lui léguant notamment unum missale de pargameno quod mihi illuminavit magister Artus lo mestre de auro et asuro” [We have unfortunately very little information on illuminators from the Rouergue in the fifteenth century. A will supplies us with the name of an artist, Maitre Artus. In his will dated 26 March 1502, Jean de Banis, a priest and doctor in canon law, prior of Ceignac and Frons, endowed a chapel he wanted erected in the cemetery of Ceignac, and donated a “missal made of parchment that was illuminated for me by Master Artus, the master of gold and azure”] (Un livre d’heures à l’usage de Rodez, 2003, p. 22).

The artist of the present five historiated initials has not been identified. but bears some comparison with one of the two artists that illustrated the recently acquired Book of Hours now in Rodez (Rodez, BM, MS 138; purchased in 2001). This artist is responsible for three of the twelve miniatures in the Rodez Book of Hours: the Crucifixion, Descent from the Cross and the Entombment. This artist (quite distinct from the other artist in the Rodez Book of Hours) is in all likelihood a local artist (as suggested by François Avril according to the publication on the Rodez Book of Hours (see Un livre d’heures à l’usage de Rodez, 2003; see discussion relative to the two distinct hands in this Book of Hours). There is little doubt that the Rouergue region and Rodez in particular was a region of great artistic patronage, where artists were brought in by important and powerful prelates such as Bertrand de Chalencon, and later François d’Estaing or Georges d’Armagnac (all three Bishops of Rodez). Scholarship has described the dynamic and creative period of artistic production between the end of the Hundred Year War to the beginning of the Wars of Religion as “Rouergue flamboyant” or “grand siècle” (see Lemaitre, 1988 et Bousquet, 1981). Our knowledge of manuscript illumination in the Rouergue and the relations to larger centers especially Toulouse still needs further study, and the present codex is an additional witness to the corpus of “ruthénois” works of art.  We are pleased to add this manuscript to the list of illuminated manuscripts for the city of Rodez.


[Bibliothèque municipale de Rodez]. Un livre d’heures à l’usage de Rodez, 2003.

Bonal, A. Histoire des évêques de Rodez, Rodez, 1935.

Bousquet, J.  “Le ‘grand Siècle’ de Rodez”, in H. Enjalbert, ed., Histoire de Rodez, Toulouse, 1981.

Couderc, C. Le bréviaire de François d’Estaing et les plus anciens livres liturgiques des diocèses de Rodez et de Vabres, Besançon, 1929.

Gy, P.-M. “La cathédrale et la liturgie dans le Midi de la France”, La cathédrale (XIIe-XIVe siècles), Cahiers de Fanjeaux, 30,Toulouse, 1995.

Desachy, M. ed. Livres et bibliothèques en Rouergue (XIVe-XVIIIe siècle), Rodez-Paris: Ecole des chartes, 2000 (Revue du Rouergue, n° 63).

Desachy, M. “L’entourage de l’évêque de Rodez François d’Estaing (1504-1529): la cour d’honneur de l’humanisme toulousain”, published online :

Desachy, M. Cité des hommes. Le chapitre cathédral de Rodez (1215-1562), Rodez, Editions du Rouergue, 2005.

Desachy, M. Incunables albigeois. Les ateliers d’imprimerie de l’Aenas Sylvius (av. 1475-c.1480) et de Jean Neumeister (1481-1483), Rodez, Editions du Rouergue, 2005.

Lemaitre, N. Le Rouergue flamboyant. Le clergé et les fidèles du diocèse de Rodez. 1417-1563, Paris, 1988.

Lemaitre, J.-L. “Les livres liturgiques des paroisses du Rouergue au milieu du XVe siècle”, L’encadrement religieux des fidèles au moyen âge et jusqu’au Concile de Trente. Actes du 109e Congrès national des Sociétés Savantes, Dijon, 1984, Paris, 1985, pp. 379-390.

Lemaitre, J. L., Manuscrits du chapitre et de l’évêché de Rodez, Rodez, 1985.

Leroquais. V. Les sacramentaires et missels manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France, Paris, 1924

Mouysset, S. Le pouvoir dans la bonne ville. Les consuls de Rodez sous l’Ancien Régime, Rodez-Toulouse, 2000.

Online resources

On Rodez:

On the Cathedral Notre-Dame (Rodez)

On the Church of Saint-Amans (Rodez)