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les Enluminures

Missale pro defunctis; Mass for the Dead and Burial Service; Noted Processions

In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment with musical notation
Northern Italy (Novara), c. 1300-1340

TM 554

I. ii (modern paper) + 39 + ii (modern paper) on parchment, modern foliation in pencil top outer corner recto, complete (collation, i-ii10 iii6, iv4 v8+1 [f. 39, single leaf added to the end of the quire]), no catchwords or signatures, ruled very lightly in lead with full-length single vertical bounding lines, ff. 23v-end, with double vertical bounding lines, ff. 1-23 (justification, 170-165 x 132 mm.), ff. 23v-28v (justification 200 x 144-140 mm.), ff. 29-39 (justification 225-193 x 150 mm.), copied in a formal rounded southern gothic bookhand in two sizes depending on liturgical function in fifteen long lines through f. 23, and then with five to six lines of text each accompanied by four-line staves (black with one red line, except for ff. 27-30v, all red), with square notation, red rubrics, majuscules within the text stroked with red, two-line initials alternately red and blue with pen decoration in the opposite color, f. 27, parted red and blue initial, equivalent to one line of text and musical notation, infilled in red, and with blue pen decoration, one miniature of the Crucifixion, f. 11v (described in detail below), overall in good condition but well-worn with many signs of use, ff. 2v, 5, 6v-7, 11, 15, 18v-19, 20v, 22v-23 with ink flaking (still legible), ff. 26-end, some stains, upper margin and lower outer margin, cockled, f. 27rv, text over-written in a later hand, f. 28v, added decoration in red. Binding was extensively restored after its acquisition by the Bergendal Collection, re-using the rather substantial early wooden boards (left uncovered), replacing the leather bands and head and tail bands, and adding a new brown leather spine, tooled in blind with three raised bands, original pastedowns and flyleaves removed and bound separately (described below), in excellent condition. Dimensions 266 x 187 mm.

Four leaves probably from an Antiphonary (removed from the binding described above)
In Latin, manuscript on parchment with musical notation
Italy (Novara), c. 1300-40

II. iii (modern paper) + 4 + iii (modern paper) folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil top outer corner recto, four leaves, removed from the binding described above by the Bergendal collection (collation two bifolium, ff. 1-2 [f. 1, formerly served as pastedown], and ff. 3-4 [f. 4v, formerly pastedown]), ruled very lightly in pen (?), with full-length double vertical bounding lines (justification, 200 x 155 mm.), written in a formal rounded southern gothic bookhand with five lines of text and five four-line staves (brown, with one red line), square musical notation, no decoration, paste on ff. 1 and 4v, some stains, but all clearly legible. Bound in red leather over pasteboard by Donald Taylor of Toronto in 1995, spine lettered in gilt, “Fragmentum O.P., s. XIV,” in excellent condition, covers bowed. Dimensions 265 x 190-185 mm.

This is a rare example of a liturgical manuscript that includes the Mass for the Dead – its prayers carefully tailored for use in Novara, Italy – copied independently as a separate liturgical libellus. Accompanying this are texts for Funeral Services and a variety of Processions (including a procession for meeting visiting prelates), with detailed liturgical directions and musical notation. The Canon begins with a miniature of the Crucifixion that deserves further study.


1. Written in Northern Italy, certainly for use in the diocese of Novara, and most likely also copied in or near Novara, in the opening decades of the fourteenth century, c. 1300-40, as indicated by the evidence of the script, illumination (discussed in detail below), and liturgical contents. Saints associated with Novara are mentioned numerous times within the prayers in the Mass for the Dead: prayer, ff. 17v-18, names the Apostles Peter, Paul and Andrew, the confessors, Gaudentius, Agabius, Julius and Julianus, and the martyr Lawrence; the Communicantes prayer, ff. 12v-13, includes Martin, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Gregory, Benedict, Gaudentius, Agabius, Julius, and Julianus, and the prayer, f. 21v, names Peter and Paul and Gaudentius. St. Lawrence of Novara (F. 30 April) is said to have introduced Christianity to Novara, and was martyred around 397; Gaudentius (F. 22 January), the first Bishop of Novara in 379, was succeeded by Agabius, bishop, 418-438 (F. 10 September). Julius and Julianus (feast, 31 January, at Novara, 9 February), both assisted St. Gaudentius in his ministry in Novara.

Novara is in Piedmont in Northern Italy about forty kilometers west of Milan. It was an important commercial and trading center during the Middle Ages, which for much of its history was part of the Duchy of Milan. Although it seems quite certain that this manuscript was made for use in the diocese of Novara, its exact origin remains uncertain. Given the level of liturgical detail included it is possible that further research should be able to determine for what community this manuscript was made, a fact that adds to the interest of the miniature. are given with both masculine and feminine forms (for example, f. 2v, “seruo tuo uel ancilla tua,” and f. 3, feminine forms superscript). The mention of the “brothers” on f. 20v, an office celebrated by “fratribus in choro,” has been interpreted previously as indicating that this is a Missal used in a Benedictine monastery; it seems more likely however that this may have been used in a secular foundation, perhaps a Cathedral Church or house of Canons.

Carefully copied in a very formal southern gothic bookhand by a skilled scribe, although one who made a number of errors, which are corrected by a red line through middle of words; on f. 12, “comendauerunt” was copied twice, other errors on ff. 7v, 13v, and 23 (this error cancelled in text ink). Although there is a change of hand and layout between f. 28v and f. 29 (quires three and four), the evidence suggests that these texts were always part of a single volume (cf. the very similar pen initials on ff. 20v and 27v).

2. f. 1, fourteenth-century (?) note, “Deus i<?>ulg.”

3. Sold by Hoepli and Kundig, Geneva, November 20, 1947, lot 79 (their description laid in).

4. Sold at Sotheby’s, December 11, 1984, lot. 43, when it was purchased by Joseph Pope.

5. Belonged to Joseph Pope (1921-2010) of Toronto, investor banker and prominent collector of medieval manuscripts, who acquired it from Sotheby’s in 1984 (see above); Bergendal Collection MS 68 (described in Pope, 1999, and online, “Bergendal Collection”; brief description in Stoneman, 1997, p. 192-193; an account of the collection is given in Pope, 1997).

1. Based on the similarity in the type of script and layout, it seems quite likely that these four leaves share a common origin in Novara, c. 1300-40 with the main manuscript described here; their text suggests the manuscript may have originated for use in a secular church or in a Dominican house where in addition to the Genealogy from Matthew’s Gospel (Mt 1:1-16) chanted as part of Matins during the Christmas Vigil, the Genealogy from Luke (Luke 3:23-28) was chanted on the Vigil of Epiphany (Hughes, 1982, pp. 62, 173, 177); this practice was not a feature of the Franciscan or Roman liturgy. (The genealogy of Luke was however chanted during the office for the Sunday after Epiphany according to monastic use, so the evidence is difficult to interpret; see Gyug, 1990, pp. 140-141).

2. Once served as the pastedowns and flyleaves of the manuscript described above; removed and bound separately in 1995 as Bergendal MS 105 (Pope, 1999, and listed online; brief description, Stoneman, 1997, p. 205).


ff. 1v-8, [f. 1, blank], Incipit ordo pro defunctis sepelliendis. Primo procedendum est cum cruce et aqua benedicta ad domum ubi corpus quiescit et ibi sacerdos incipit cantare, R., Incipit, “Subuentite, V. Suscipiat te christus, Quo cantato sacerdos roget pro eo, Pater noster …,” f. 5v, … Et cum sepellitur corpus dicit infrascriptas orationes, incipit, “Oremus fratres karissimi pro spiritu cari nostri quem dominus de laqueo huius seculi liberare dignatus est … [feminine forms suprascript] …”; f. 8,Reuertendo in ecclesia cantatur, R., incipit, “Si bona suscepimus de manu domini …, Oremus, Absolve domine animam famuli tui ab omni uinculo [feminine forms suprascript] …”;

Funeral Service, including the blessing of the body in the house, procession to the church, blessing of the body in the church, and prayers at the grave.

ff. 8v-18v, Missa pro defuncto [superscript: a] ipso die, incipit, “Requiem eternam dona eis domine et lux …”;

ff. 18v-20, Quando pro septimo uel tricesimo seu anniuersario die fit processio primo crux precedat cum turribulo …ad eius sepulcrum cantando, R., incipit, “Qui suscitatsti …”;

Procession on the seventh and thirteenth day after burial, or on anniversary of death, (prayers in the cemetery and in Church).

ff. 20v-23v, Sequenti die post festum omnium sanctorum fit officium pro omnibus fidelibus defunctis celebratis uero matutinis an aurora congregatis fratribus in choro incipiatur prima et interim sacerdos ebdomnedarius preparet se induendo uestibus sacris … Oremus, incipit, “Deus uenie largitor …”;

Procession preceding the Mass on All Souls Day, with detailed liturgical directions, mentioning the altar of Mary on f. 21, and naming Mary, Peter and Paul, and Gaudentius in the prayer on f. 21v.

ff. 24-26v, incipit, “Libera me domine de morte eterna …” with versicles; f. 25, Hymnus quando datur oliue, incipit, “Magnum salutis gaudium …” and f. 26v, Tractus, incipit, “Laudate dominum omnes gentes …”;

Noted procession for the Dead (cf. the procession found on ff. 37v-39, with a different musical setting; hymn is from the Palm Sunday service; and the tract from Lenten Masses, including Holy Saturday.

ff. 27-39, Noted Processions:

ff. 27-30, In ramis palmarum processione, incipit, “Occurunt turbe cum floribus et palmis ..; f. 27v, Reuertendo ad ecclesiam, incipit, “Prima autem azimorum …”; f. 29, Ad introitum ecclesie, R., incipit, “Ingrediente domino in sanctam ciuitatem …”;

ff. 31-35, In processione consecrationis ecclesie, incipit, “Orantibus in loco isto dimitte …”; f. 33v, R. Ante portam ecclesie, incipit, “In hymnis et confessio …”; f. 34v, R. In introitu ecclesie, incipit, “Fundata est domus domini …”;

ff. 35v-37, In processione ad o[b]uiam prelati R., incipit, “Ecce uirum prudentem …”;

ff. 37v-39, In processione pro defunctis, incipit, “Liber me domine de morte eterna …”; f. 38, incipit, “Qui suscitasti lazarum …”; f. 38v, incipit, “Redemptor meus uiuit et in nouissimo …” [f. 39v, blank].

Processions for Palm Sunday, for the Consecration of a Church, On the way to meet a prelate, and for the dead.

II. Former pastedowns and flyleaves, now bound separately:
ff. 1-2v, incipit, “David autem rex genuit … De qua natus//” [Matthew 1:6-16];

f. 3, Noted Office Reading, probably for Epiphany (unidentified Homily), “//[C]um ergo sancta plebs deo seruiens toto corde natiuitatem domini et epiphaniam eius se gaudeat … fratres karissimi pasca nobis sacratissimum nun//” [f. 3v, blank];

f. 4rv, “//[Helma]dam qui fuit her … Iude qui fuit//” [Luke 3:28-34].

Four leaves with noted texts from the Divine Office, probably from an Antiphonary or possibly a Breviary, given the inclusion of the homily on f. 3 (the genealogy from Matthew, although it was chanted at Matins, is sometimes included in Missals); their text suggests the manuscript originated for a community following secular or Dominican use (see full discussion in provenance, above).


Miniature of the Crucifixion, f. 11v, at the Canon of the Mass (“Te igitur”), 90 x 66 mm., equivalent to seven lines of text, showing Christ in a purple loin-cloth on a blue cross, with Mary and John, on deep blue ground, framed in orange, green, and yellow with white highlights.

The Crucifixion is strikingly similar to the Crucifixion in the Missal copied in Novara, c. 1300, now Novara, Archivio Capitolare, Cod. CVI, f. 28 (reproduced in Romano, 1997, p. 253), and to a Crucifixion copied in Vercelli, c. 1290-1300, Vercelli, Biblioteca Capitolare, cod. CCXVI/206, f. 22v (Romano, 1997, plate 2); similar pen decoration is found in a manuscript dated to 1290-1300, Vercelli, Biblioteca Capitolare, Cod. LXVIII/96, f. 101 and 114v, (Romano, 1997, p. 344).

More generally, the style of the Crucifixion may be compared with a group of late thirteenth-century Missals from Umbria, whose style shows the influence of Ciambue: Deruta, Pinacoteca Comunale MS s. s. f. 119v, Crucifixion, Salerno, Museo del Duomo, Vatican Library, MS Reg. lat. 2048 (Manion and Vines, 1984, figs. 12, 13, 14), and less closely, the related Missal, probably from Perugia, St. Paschal’s College, Box Hill Victoria, Codex S. Paschalis (Manion and Vines, 1984, pp. 28-39, and Manion, Online Resources).

This is very interesting example of a liturgical libellus, a collection of texts of various types, gathered together in a small, practical volume, to serve a single liturgical function – books such as these presumably were copied in large numbers as practical liturgical volumes, but only rarely survive (see Gy, 1990, esp. pp. 111 and 120, and Palazzo, 1993, pp. 189-191). In this case, most of the texts in the volume are associated with rites surrounding death and burial.

The Mass for the Dead in this volume, copied in a large, easily read script, with a beautiful miniature of the Crucifixion, is especially noteworthy. Only two other manuscripts we could call a “Missale pro defunctis,” or a Missal including the Mass for the Dead, or the Requiem Mass, as its only Mass, are known to this writer. Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale, MS IV 1045, is an early fourteenth-century manuscript, probably copied for the Benedictine Abbey in Liège. In his description of the manuscript, Dogaer noted that it was copied with only ten lines of text in a very large hand, and that no similar manuscripts are found in Leroquais (Dogaer, 1984). The Schoenberg Database includes a single example (Schoenberg Database, no. 940), an early sixteenth-century Missal from Northern France with only twenty-five folios, which was sold at Sothebys, June 20, 1989, lot 54 (the description notes that this manuscript may have been removed from a Missal, or possibly may have always been an independent “slim volume”).

Certainly made for use in Novara in Northern Italy, this is a manuscript that includes many signs that it was actually used. It begins with texts for the Funeral Service, usually found in a Ritual or a Processional, including detailed texts (not noted) for the processions associated with death and burial -- to the house of the dead, back to the Church, and to the Grave yard. The text for the Mass for the Dead, more often found in a Missal, follow these initial texts, and is in turn followed by processions on the anniversaries of the death and All Souls Day (commemorating all the Dead). The amount of liturgical detail here makes these texts especially interesting. Together, they constitute a convenient volume, copied in a distinctive large, clear script.

The manuscript also includes noted hymns and a tract (which would have been found also in a Missal or Gradual), and a number of noted liturgical processions (often found in Processionals, or Ordinals), for Palm Sunday, for the Consecration of a Church, for meeting a prelate, and finally, for the dead. Books such as this one, including the texts necessary for one type of liturgical occasion, copied in a convenient small format, must have been easy to use and easy to carry (and this manuscript may in part answer the question raised by many missals complete in one volume – since they are often copied in a very small script, were they often supplemented by practical volumes that were easier to read?).


Dogaer, Georges. “A Missale pro Defunctis, Liège, early fourteenth century,” in Fine Books and Book Collecting. Books and Manuscripts Acquired from Alan G. Thomas …, eds. Christopher de Hamel and Richard Linenthal, Leamington Spa, James Hall, 1981, pp. 6-8.

Février, P.-A. “La mort du chrétienne,” Segni e riti nella chiesa altomedievale occidentale, Spoleto, Presso la sede del Centro, 1987, 2:881-942.

Gy, P.-M. “Typologie et ecclésiologie des livres liturgiques médiévaux,” La Maison Dieu 121 (1975), pp. 7-21.

Gy, P.-M. “Collectaire, ritual, processional,” Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques 44 (1960) 441-69 (reprinted in La liturgie dans l’histoire, Paris, Cerf, 1990, pp. 91-126).

Gyug, Richard Francis, ed. Missale ragusinum; The Missal of Dubrovnik (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Canon. liturg. 342), Toronto, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1990.

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

Hughes, Andrew. Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office. A Guide to Their Organization and Terminology, Toronto, 1982, first paperback edition, 1995.

Huglo, Michel.“Processional,” The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie, London, 1980, vol. 15, 278-281.

Huglo, Michel. Les manuscrits du processionnal. Répertoire international des sources musicales B.XIV.1, Munich, 1999-2004.

Manion, Margaret M., and Vera F. Vines. Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts in Australian Collections, Melbourne and New York, Thames and Hudson, 1984.

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

Paxton, Frederick S. Christianizing Death: the Creation of a Ritual Process in Early Medieval Europe, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1990.

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

Pope, Joseph. One Hundred and Twenty-Five Manuscripts. Bergendal Collection Catalogue, Toronto, 1999.

Pope, Joseph. “The Library that Father Boyle Built,” in A Distinct Voice: Medieval Studies in Honor of Leonard Boyle, O.P., ed. by Jacqueline Brown and William P. Stoneman, Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 1997, pp. 157-162.

Romano, Giovanni, ed. Pittura e miniatura del Trecento in Piemonte, Turin, Fondazione CRT and Banca CRT, 1997 (especially Galli Michero, Lavina M. “La pittura del Trecento a Novara e nel suo territorio,” pp. 247-317).

Stoneman, William P. “A Summary Guide to the Medieval and Later Manuscripts in the Bergendal Collection, Toronto” in A Distinct Voice: Medieval Studies in Honor of Leonard Boyle, O.P., ed. by Jacqueline Brown and William P. Stoneman, Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 1997, pp. 163-206.

Online resources

Bergendal Collection (see MS 68, description with image of Crucifixion)

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

General introduction to liturgical processions
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12446b (New Catholic Encyclopedia, “Processions”)

Liber Usualis, Burial Service

Margaret Manion, “The Codex Sancti Paschalis,” The La Trobe Journal 51-52 (1993)
St. Paschal’s College, Box Hill, Victoria, Codex Paschalis (on deposit, State Library of Victoria)