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les Enluminures

Missal (Use of Rome)

In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment with musical notation
Northern Italy, c. 1375-1425; added miniature, Southern Germany(?), c. 1450-1500

TM 1074
  • 22 900 €
  • £20,500
  • $26,000

i (paper) + 193 + i (paper) on parchment (clear distinction between hair and flesh sides), foliation in modern pencil in upper recto corners, complete (i-iii8 iv4 v-xvii8 xviii6 ixx-xxiv8 xxv8-1 [cancelled blank in final position]), horizontal catchwords surrounded by four radiating lines in lower margin except in quire xviii, nearly invisible plummet ruling (justification 115 x 60 mm.), some prickings outer margin, written below top line in dark brown ink by a single experienced scribe in two sizes of Gothic textualis script in two columns of 20 lines, square neume musical notation on red three-line staves on ff. 59-67, rubrics, incipit highlighting, and numerous two-line initials in red, with two on Palm Sunday (f. 50v) decorated with brown ink penwork, five-line blue initials set in frame of red filigreed penwork with trailing scrolled vines on ff. 1, 69, 73, and 162, ONE FULL PAGE MINIATURE of the Crucifixion added to manuscript (perhaps after binding) f. 68v, red ribbon tabs folded over edges of ff. 68, 73, 139, and 162, occasional small holes, uneven edges, and discoloration which occurred during production, some minor and rare text abrasion and chipping (e.g. ff. 1 and 20v), minor isolated flecking (e.g. ff. 69v-73), overall very good condition. FOURTEENTH- OR FIFTEENTH CENTURY BINDING (Italian?) of cushioned wooden boards covered in red leather tooled in blind with intersecting diagonal lines from corner to corner on front and back in a three-line frame, three tawed leather split thong supports tunneled through board edges and attached to outer boards, supports joined to quires with packed straight stitching, quires joined by kettle stitch at head and tail of spine, brown leather endbands wrapped with blue and white thread, scraps of green fabric straps (added later) on top cover held by bronze star-shaped nails, brass boss remaining at center back only, all corner bosses missing, head and tail of spine wrapped around edges with wide early-modern(?)metallic ribbon in delicate and frayed condition held in place with star-patterned brass nails, cover very worn with abrasion, worming, and holes exposing boards below, spine edges fully exposed with supports only attached at bottom front, overall intact but in fragile condition. Dimensions 235 x 170 mm.

Containing the texts for Mass, Missals were indispensable during the Middle Ages but are relatively rare today because they were often used until they wore out. Complete and in its early, possibly original binding, this Missal speaks directly to late medieval piety. It features an unusually graphic and moving illustration of the Crucifixion associated with the cult of the blood of the wounds of Christ. Its early history is mysterious – created in Northern Italy, it was illustrated in Southern Germany a half-century later.


1. Evidence of the script suggests production in Northern Italy in the latter part of the fourteenth century or early in the fifteenth century. The Crucifixion miniature on f. 68v was added c. 1450-1500, as evidenced by its style and execution. Note the frame that has been left undecorated at the inner margin, and the execution of the bottom frame – somewhat scribbled in the bottom margin as the illustrator changed his or her initial plan. Moreover, a tiny fleck of red paint had seeped onto the bottom edge of f. 67v where it is slightly longer than f. 68.

The miniature itself, while effectively emotive, was probably not executed by a professional artist. As such, its style is difficult to date and locate within the context of late medieval manuscript painting. The particular attention to Christ’s wounds, and the copious effusion of blood dripping from them, is predominantly witnessed north of the Alps in art of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (discussed in more detail below). Consequently, it is probable that this miniature was added not in Italy, where the manuscript’s text originates, but in Germany by a later owner.

2. The manuscript’s front pastedown features its title, “MISSALE MVLTAE ANTIQVITATIS” with the first word written in stylized vines decorated in red, blue, and green, and the remainder in square capitals. This was probably added by a later owner, perhaps during modest restorations of the binding that include the metallic ribbon protecting the tail endband and possibly the fabric attached to the front opening edge that had once held the manuscript’s clasps. Lack of wear and watermarks suggest the pastedowns and their attached flyleaves are more recent than the manuscript and binding. Besides an indecipherable smeared note in the bottom margin of f. 88v, and the modern pencil shelfmarks (“2388989 6 – MO” on the front pastedown, “193ff” and “1074” on the back pastedown), there is no further evidence of the manuscript’s readers or owners.


ff. 1-59, In [ihesu] nomine. Amen. Dominica prima te adventu. Introitus., incipit “Ad [t]e levavi in animam mei. … [f. 59] et justa desideria compleantur. Per [Christum dominum nostrum. Amen]”;

Temporale from the first Sunday in Advent and through to Palm Sunday. Introits, tracts, offertories, and communions are written in smaller script, while responsories, prayers, readings, graduals, secrets, and post-communions are written in larger script.

ff. 59-67, In nativitate domini prephatio, incipit, “aeterne deus. Quia per incarnati verbi mi [sic] misterium nova mentis nostrae … [f. 59v] Infra actionem, Communicantes et noctem vel diem sacratissimum celebrantes … [f. 65v] Prephatio com[m]unis, [f. 66] “Per omnia secula seculorum … [f. 67] supplici confessione dicentes”; [ff. 67v-68 blank]; 

Proper prefaces and communicantes with rubrics instructing when they should be sung according to the Temporale (Missale Romanum, 2004 edition, pp. 322-333). Prefaces are notated, and the communicantes (following “infra actionem” rubrics) unnotated. The series includes the prefaces and communicantes for Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Feasts of the Apostles, Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Feasts of the Holy Cross, and the Feast of the Holy Trinity. This section ends with the notated preface of the Ordinary of the Mass (Ordo Missae).

f. 68v, Crucifixion miniature;

ff. 69-73, incipit, “Te igitur clementissime Pater per Iesum Christum … [f. 73] te miserante propitabile. Per Christum dominum nostrum. Amen”;

Canon of the Mass. These texts are said by the celebrant at every Mass throughout the year, irrespective of the liturgical season or feast day. As here, they are often prefaced by a Crucifixion miniature.

ff. 73-138v, Dominica resurrectionis domini. Introitus., incipit, “Resurrexi et ad huc tecum sum … [f. 137] Dominica XXIIII post pentecosten … Excita quaesumus domine … [f. 138v] medicationis dono curetur. Per [Christum dominum nostrum. Amen]”;

Temporale, beginning Easter and continuing through to the twenty-fourth (and final) Sunday after Pentecost. Introits, tracts, offertories, and communions are written in smaller script, while responsories, prayers and readings, graduals, secrets, and post-communions are written in larger script.

ff. 139-161v, Incipit proprium sanctorum. In festo sancti andree. Introitus., incipit, “Michi autem nimis honorati sunt amici tui … [f. 161v] In sanctae Catherine virginis et martyris. oratio. Deus qui dedisti legem moysi … oratio cunctas iniquitates nostras expellat. Per [Christum dominum nostrum. Amen]”;

Proper of the Saints for some of the major feasts of the Sanctorale, beginning the feast of St. Andrew (November 30), and ending with St. Catherine’s feast day (November 25). The limited selection of feasts also include those of St. Thomas, the Conversion of St. Paul, Purification, the Chair of St. Peter, Annunciation, the Nativity of John the Baptist, Saints Peter and Paul, Mary Magdalen, St. Peter in Chains, St. Laurence, Assumption, St. Augustine, the Beheading of John the Baptist, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Michaelmas, and All Saints. Feasts occurring in April, May, and October are excluded, but the manuscript is complete.

ff. 162-177v, incipit, “Ego autem sicut oliva fructificavi in domo domini … post communio. Deus qui de vivis … spiritualibus amplificetur augmentis. Per [Christum dominum nostrum. Amen]”;

Common of Saints, beginning with the vigils of apostles, followed by that for the feasts of one apostle and several apostles, one pope martyr, one non-pope martyr and several martyrs, one pope confessor and one non-pope confessor (with variants for Doctors of the Church and abbots), one virgin and several virgins, and for the dedication of a church. Each Common includes variants to be substituted according to the liturgical season.

ff. 177v-189v, Missa de trinitate. Introitus, incipit, “Benedicta sit [f. 178] sancta trinitas … [f. 189] Missa generale pro omnibus defunctis, Fidelium deus omnium conditor … [f. 189v] et tuae redemptionis facias esse participes. Qui vivis”;

Votive Masses for the Holy Trinity, Holy Spirit, and Holy Cross, followed by Masses for the Blessed Virgin Mary from Advent to Christmas, from Christmas to Purification, from Purification to Easter, and from Easter to Pentecost, continues with Masses (usually including only the opening prayer, secret, and post-communion) for the intercession of saints, against persecutors of the Church, for peace, the pope, the priest himself, a sinner (in the edition “pro quacumque necessitate,” the remission of sins, and the health of the living, for the dead, including for one dead who is not ordained, burial, the third, seventh, and thirtieth day after death, one dead religious (male and female separately), dead brethren, those buried in the cemetery, the anniversary of death, a father and mother, and all the faithful dead.

ff. 189v-191v, incipit, “Non intres in iudicium cum servo tuo domine … Responsorium. Subvenite sancti dei … [f. 190] Oratio. Deus cui omnia vivunt et cui non pereunt … Responsorium. Ne recorderis peccata mea … [f. 190v] Oratio. Fac quaesumus domine … Responsorium. Libera me domine … Oratio. Absolve quaesumus domine … [f. 191] Antiphona. In paradisum deducant te … [f. 191] Oratio. Satisfaciat tibi quaesumus domine … [f. 191v] per misericordiam dei requiescant in pace. Responsorium Amen.”;

Burial rite, including movements, to be said after the Mass for the Dead in the presence of the body and tomb. The formula found here, unlike most of this Missal manuscript, does not follow that of the Use of Rome, but is not yet identified with a particular Use.

ff. 191-193, Incipit ordo ad faciendam aquam benedictam. Dicendo primo. Versiculus. Adi[u]torium nostrum in nomine domini. Responsorium. Qui fecit celum et terram. Exorcismus salis incipiant absolute Exorcizo te creatura salis per deum vivum + … [f. 193] visitet atque defendat omnes habitantes in hoc habitaculo. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Responsorium. Amen.” [f. 193v blank]

“Ordo ad faciendam aquam benedictam,” Rituale Romanum. This is the Roman Rite of Blessing and Sprinkling with Holy Water, commonly known as the Asperges. The text includes movements in rubrics.

Missals contains the texts to be said or sung by the celebrant during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, or the Mass, as well as parts to be sung by the choir and read by the deacons, according to the liturgical season. Most Missals contain very little or no musical notation; this manuscript provides the melodies for prefaces using the square notes common throughout Europe at the time and is not otherwise notated. (On the Missal, see Harper 1991, pp. 62-63.)

Most Missals are arranged with two concurrent cycles, known the Temporale (the feasts commemorating the Life of Christ, both fixed and moveable, from Advent through Easter), and the Sanctorale (feasts of saints and other fixed celebrations). The Canon of the Mass is often found in the middle of the book and preceded by a Crucifixion miniature; one is indeed added to this manuscript on a blank folio (f. 68v) perhaps left intentionally so by the scribe for this purpose. The Canon is usually followed by the Common of Saints and votive masses. This manuscript is consistent with this formula, and also includes two common rites – that of Burial and the Blessing and Sprinkling with Holy Water – often found in a Ritual.


One full page miniature, added to manuscript, perhaps after binding, f. 68v, of the Crucifixion with particular visual emphasis placed on Christ’s wounds, including copious blood droplets covering and falling from his body; the Crucified Christ flanked on the left by Mary, hair veiled and arms outstretched, and on the right St. John the Evangelist, his hands clasped in prayer; the sun and moon personified above the cross with red dots and lines radiating from them towards Christ; set in a decorative border on top and outer edge with simple and hastily applied red frame on inner and bottom edges; entire miniature drawn in brown ink and colored in red tones, yellow wash, and brown wash.

This Crucifixion miniature reflects a pious fascination in the humanity, and thus suffering, of Jesus Christ. While his wounds are commonly illustrated in contemporary Crucifixion scenes, the spectacular effusion of blood, coating and raining down from his body, and dripping down the foot of the Cross to stain the earth below, is more unusual. The medieval cult of Christ’s wounds, or “blood piety,” was particularly important in northern Europe in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (Bynum 2007, pp. 1-9, and 2002, pp. 3-14). As with visualizations, in both literature and art, of the Arma Christi, Mass of St. Gregory, and Man of Sorrows, explicit emphasis on Christ’s blood and injuries in representations of the Crucifixion became ubiquitous north of the Alps. That this phenomenon was unparalleled in Italy was even recognized by contemporaries (Bynum, 2007, p. 6).

The identity of the Mary in this miniature, with arms outstretched towards the viewer and clothed entirely in red, is unclear: throughout the Middle Ages (and indeed until the present day), at the Crucifixion, the Virgin Mary is almost ubiquitously clothed in a white gown and blue robe, her head covered by the same robe or with a veil (in contrast, she often appears in a red gown and blue robe in Madonna Enthroned, Madonna and Child, and Our Lady of Mercy iconography). She is frequently accompanied by St. John, as here, in reference to John 19:26-27. Moreover, in the late Middle Ages, her traditional stance at the Crucifixion is one of sorrow and acceptance: her head is bowed and hands clasped, or she is falling, faint with grief. In contrast, in the late Middle Ages Mary Magdalene’s typical Crucifixion iconography depicts her in a red gown or robe with long, flowing hair, and often places her grasping the foot of the Cross. In some late medieval images of the Crucifixion, as well as of the Descent from the Cross, she is shown with arms upraised towards Christ or Heaven (not particularly like the outstretched, but lowered, arms in this manuscript’s miniature). She is not, however, usually accompanied by St. John alone, as is the Virgin. In sum, this manuscript’s Mary conflates iconographical elements of both Marys, although the Virgin is perhaps more likely intended.

The execution of this miniature speaks to its purpose as a devotional focal point. While utilizing only scanty materials – it is drawn and painted entirely in tones of red and brown ink – it reflects complex aspects of late medieval eucharistic and Marian devotion.


Anderson, P. “Fifteenth-Century Bookbinding Structure in Italy and the Netherlands: A Survey of Manuscripts and Printed Books,” Book and Paper Group Annual 18 (1999), [np]. https://cool.conservation-us.org/coolaic/sg/bpg/annual/v18/bp18-01.html.

Bynum, C. W. Wonderful Blood: Theology and Practice in Late Medieval Northern Germany and Beyond, Philadelphia, 2007.

Bynum, C. W. “Violent Imagery in Late Medieval Piety,” GHI Bulletin 30 (2002), pp. 3-36.

Harper, J. The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy from the Tenth to the Eighteenth Century, Oxford, 1991.

Hughes, A. Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office, Toronto, 1982.

Jungmann, J. The Mass of the Roman Rite: Origins and Development, trans. F.A. Brunner. 2 vols., New York, 1950.

Szirmai, J. A. “Gothic bindings,” in The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding, Aldershot, 1999, pp. 173-284.

Online Resources

ChristianIconography, R. and C. Stracke; “The Crucifixion in Art”: https://www.christianiconography.info/crucifixion.html

“The Iconography of the Virgin Mary” https://www.christianiconography.info/maryPortraits.html

“Saint Mary Magdalene: The Iconography”: https://www.christianiconography.info/magdalene.html

Consuelo Dutschke and Susan Boynton, “The Liturgy and Its Books,” Celebrating the Liturgy’s Books

“Ordo ad faciendam aquam benedictam,” Rituale Romanum (Praeparatio ad missam)

“Living Blood Poured Out: Piety, Practice, and Theology,” lecture by Caroline Walker Bynum, Institute for Advanced Study, 22 February 2006, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cbi9GBtwOCg.

TM 1074