TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Notated Missal

In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
Southern Low Countries (Ghent or Bruges), c. 1425-1450

TM 562

ii (paper) + 280 + ii (paper) folios on parchment (very fine), modern foliation in pencil, top outer corner recto, original foliation in red roman numerals, 1-241, top margin, beginning on f. 36 with “i” and then continuing on the verso of each opening through “ccxli” on f. 278v, leaving ff. 152v and 153v, unnumbered, and with ff. 151v and 154v both numbered “cxvii,” complete (collation, i6 ii-iii8 iv6 [-1, cancelled with no loss of text] v-xvi8 xvii8 [-8, cancelled with no loss of text] xviii8 xix-xx6 xxi3 [3, f. 153, single] xxii8+1 [single leaf, f. 161, added after 7] xxiii-xxiv8 xxv6 xxvi4 xxvii-xxxvii8 xxxviii-xxxix2), formal horizontal catchwords, mostly trimmed, but extant in quires 23-25, no traditional leaf and quire signatures, but catchwords written in very small noting script on the verso of a number of leaves within quires serve as leaf signatures (for example, quires 23 and 24, ff. 167v and 170v), ruling varies, ff. 1-188v, ruled in lead with the top and bottom two horizontal rules full across and with full-length single vertical bounding lines, ff. 189-end, with single full-length vertical bounding lines (justification, 150-145 x 95-94 mm.), written below the top line in a formal gothic bookhand by at least two scribes, the second scribe beginning on f. 189, in nineteen long lines, except the Canon, ff. 154-162v, copied in a larger script in fifteen long lines, or with up to eight lines of text and eight four-line red staves with square musical notation in black on eleven folios (ff. 145-150) guide-notes for rubricator on ff. 60v and 62v, majuscules stroked with red, red rubrics, one- to two-line alternating red and blue initials, two three-line red or blue initials, ff. 7 and 36, with contrasting penwork (f. 36, with a small human face within the penwork), f. 189, large five-line parted red and blue initial, infilled with red pen work partially filled with pale green, and with red and blue pen decoration extending the full length of the text, three four-line red or blue initials, ff. 124, 145 and 154, with white highlights infilled with blue, red and green vines and flowers on gold, on a notched gold ground, extending into a bar border along the text, and decorated with black vine-scrolls with gold leaves, small gold balls, and small red, blue and green stylized flowers, ONE FULL-PAGE MINIATURE of the Crucifixion, f. 153v (described below), in astonishingly clean, almost pristine condition, blank leaves at the beginning and end darkened and stained, ink slightly worn on a few pages, slight soiling in the Canon, some cockling, original parchment repair, f. 64, lower outer corner. Bound in the 1990s by Donald Taylor of Toronto in modern red leather, paper stubs inserted between quires, gilt edges, spine with five raised bands, gilt title on label, “Liber Missalis” and date, s. XIV, on spine, clasp and catch fastening, closing back to front, in excellent condition (previously bound in early nineteenth-century green morocco). Dimensions 214 x 156 mm.

This illuminated Missal in pristine condition comes from St. Bavo’s in Ghent, a historically important Benedictine monastery. The Schoenberg Database lists only one other manuscript Missal from St. Bavo’s. The texts included in this Missal and their arrangement are distinctive and deserve study in context of other fifteenth-century Missals from the Ghent-Bruges area. Once owned by Washington Irving, this Missal has an interesting well-documented provenance in nineteenth-century America.


1. Copied in Ghent or Bruges in the first half of the fifteenth century; the style of the miniature and the decorated initials suggests that it was most likely made in the second quarter of the fifteenth century; the illuminated initials on ff. 124, 145 and 154 are quite close in style to the initial on f. 17v of the Bible dated 1436, British Library, Yates Thompson MS 16 (see Online Resources, British Library, Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts), which was illuminated by the Master of the Gold Scrolls group; further study is needed to determine the relationship of the artist of the Crucifixion miniature in this Missal with this group of artists. The text supports a date after 1389, since the Visitation is included on f. 78.

Although the manuscript could have been made in either Ghent or Bruges, both important centers for manuscript production at this date, there is, however, no doubt that it was made for use at the Benedictine monastery of St. Bavo in Ghent (Cottineau, 1936-7, 1245-1247; Monasticon belge, 1988; Bracke, Oosterbosch, and Klein, 1999). This is quite clear from f. 139rv, which includes a Mass for “the saints of this place,” naming Bavo, Landoald, Macarius, Amantius, Livin, Adrian, Brice, Vinciana, Landrada, and Pharahildis “atque ceterorum quorum reliquie in presenti requiescunt in ecclesia merita gloriosa.” St. Landoald, a companion of St. Amand, was the founder of the abbey; St. Amantius, was also a companion of St. Amand; St. Bavo, was converted by St. Amand; and St. Vinciana, was the sister of St. Landoald. Saints Livin and Macarius were both venerated in Ghent; St. Landrada, was the daughter of St. Wandregesil, and St. Pharahildis was the patroness of Ghent. These saints, all with relics at St. Bavo, as well as other saints venerated in the Southern Netherlands in general, and Ghent in particular, are also found in the litany, beginning on f. 15v, and in the text of the Missal; the litany also includes Saints Benedict and Maurus, as one would expect in a Missal from a Benedictine House; a Mass for St. Benedict is found on ff. 53-54.

The Benedictine Abbey of St. Bavo in Ghent, diocese of Tournai, was founded c. 630; it was one of the wealthiest and most important Benedictine Abbeys in the Middle Ages. In the fifteenth century, Raphael de Mercatellis (1437-1508; abbot from 1478), the renowned humanist scholar, served as abbot. In 1539/1540, the Abbey was forcibly closed for its part in the rebellion against Charles V; the abbot, monks and the possessions of the abbey, including its library, were transferred to what later became the cathedral of St. Bavo. The library remained intact until 1680, when it was emptied to make room, and most of its books were sold.

The monastery had a rich and well-documented library, especially in the late Middle Ages (see Bracke, Oosterbosch, and Klein 1999, pp. 48-99; including extensive inventories by the priors Michael an der Stoct, ca. 1395-1400, with 312 items, and Oliver de Langhe, c. 1450, with 618 items. His booklist included twenty-six Missals and other Mass books, one of which may be the manuscript described here, although no certain identification is possible (p. 96).

This Missal survives in remarkably clean, indeed almost pristine condition, but nonetheless includes a few small signs of active use, including a nota mark on f. 45v (alongside the communion prayer following secret for Barbara (“Simile est regnum celorum hominum negotiatori ...”), corrections, for example on ff. 44v, 45, 48, and 61v, (formally supplying omissions in the margin or between the lines), and marks from tabs on ff. 159-160, and 177.

2. Added prayer on f. 152v, in a sixteenth-century hand, for the emperor Charles V (1500-1558), who was born in Ghent and baptized at St. John’s Church (later to become the Cathedral of St. Bavo).

3. Belonged to the noted American author, Washington Irving (1783-1859), best known for his short stories, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle.” He traveled widely in Europe, and it was presumably in Europe that he acquired this manuscript (perhaps coincidentally his first book, the Sketch-Book, was published under his pen-name, Geoffrey Crayon of Ghent).

4. Irving gave this manuscript to his friend, Gouverneur Kemble (1786-1875) of New York, a United States congressman (recorded in earlier descriptions; evidence in previous binding?).

5. Belonged to members of the Kemble family until it was sold to J. C. Meghby (penciled notes on former flyleaf).

6. Belonged to the Reverend Dr. Roderick Terry (1849-1933) of Newport Rhode Island, a collector of Washington Irving memorabilia (bookplate removed when the book was rebound); his collection was dispersed by his son in a series of sales by Anderson Galleries, New York in 1934-1935; cf. Schoenberg Database no. 5224, Anderson Sale, November 7, 1911, lot 258.

7. Belonged to Henry S. Borneman of Philadelphia (1870-1935); sold at Parke Bernet on November 2, 1955, lot 820.

8. Modern notes in pencil, inside front cover: “15073,” and inside back cover, “63XRP.”

9. Sold at Sotheby’s, London, July 3, 1984, lot 52 (illustrated in de Hamel,1986, p. 192, pl. 197), where it was purchased by Joseph Pope.

10. Belonged to Joseph Pope of Toronto (d. 2010), investor banker and prominent collector of medieval manuscripts, where it was Bergendal Collection MS 65 (described in Pope, 1999, and online, Bergendal Collection; brief notice in Stoneman, 1997 p. 191; an account of the collection is given in Pope, 1997).


[ff. 1-2v, blank but ruled]; ff. 3-6v, Hec continet hoc liber, incipit, “Exorcismus salis et aque, Item ordo ad uisitandum infirmum … De sancto sebastiano, etc.” Sequitur misse, incipit, In dominica prima aduentus domini, i; Dominica secunda, lxx … Pro defunctis, cxxxix, Item alie pro defunctis diuersimode” [Ends mid f. 6; remainder and f. 6v, blank];

Contents of the volume; the manuscript includes original Roman numerals that number the openings beginning on the present f. 36 (see above). This list of contents begins with a summary of the texts on the opening leaves (which were not foliated when the manuscript was made), listed in the order found in the manuscript, followed by a detailed list of the contents of the Missal, arranged in liturgical order and keyed to the original Roman numerals numbering the openings. This list of contents begins with the Temporale with the first Sunday in Advent, and includes the names of major feasts in red (Purification, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost), followed by De aliquibus sanctis, and Sequitur communes misse (Votive masses and the Common of Saints). In other words, this is an index to the volume that re-ordered its texts according to the traditional order of a Missal.

ff. 7-9, Exorcism of salt and water;

ff. 9-27vv, Ordo ad uisitandum infirmum, order of visiting and anointing the sick, ending, f. 15v, Statim infirmus obire inceperit dicitur ab astantibus hic letania, …, litany, includes Livin, Adrian, Leodegar, Lambert, among the martyrs, and Bavo, Landoald, Macarius, Amandus, Amantius, Ausbert, Wulfram, Gudwal, Folquinus, Benedict, Maurus, and Wandregesil among the confessors, and Vinciana, Landrada, and Pharahildis among the virgins, f. 20, prayers said at the grave [Ends mid f. 27; remainder and f. 27v, blank];

and liturgical rites for visiting and anointing the sick and dying, followed by the litany for the dead and the burial service; prayers and rubrics are generally for monks (for example, masculine forms used in prayers, ff. 11, 13v, 14v, etc., rubric, f. 21, refers to the abbot) but feminine forms are added in a small formal hand between the lines in prayers on ff. 21v-22v and f. 27, and the last prayer is pro sororibus, collecta, incipit, “Quesumus domine pro tua pietate miserere anime famule tue …”

ff. 28-35v, Sequitur oratio beati thome de aquino ante clebrationem misse, incipit, “Omnipotens et misericors deus. Ecce accedo ad sacramentum corporis …”; f. 29, Sequitur oratio beati thome de aquino post celebrationem misse, incipit, “Gratias tibi ago piisime deus quod me ad officium sacerdotale elegisti …”; f. 30, Inuocatio beati macharii contra epidmie pestem. Antiphona, incipit, “Sanctisssime archipresul machari qui pro christo tanquam pauper …”; … Oratio, incipit, “Domine ihesus christe fili dei uiui pone passionem crucem …”; incipit, “Gratias tibi ago domine ihesu christe cuius gratia sum …”; incipit, “Sancta maria uirginum sanctitssima dei genitrix et omnes sancti beatorum …”; [ff. 34v-35v, blank].

of Thomas Aquinas for before and after Mass, and suffrages of Macarius (against the plague), Christopher, Anthony, and Sebastian, followed by three prayers.

ff. 36-99v, Selected Masses from the Temporale and Sanctorale, beginning with the first Sunday in Advent, followed by three Masses for the Christmas season, f. 37v, Christmas day, f. 40v, Stephen (December 26), John the Evangelist (December 27), and then a series of masses from the Sanctorale: f. 44v, Barbara (December 4), f. 45v, Pharahildis (7 December), f. 46, Nicholas (December 6), f. 48v, Conception of the Virgin, f. 50, Purification, f. 52v, Amandus (February 6), f. 53v, Benedict (March 21), f. 55, Annunciation; followed by f. 56, Easter, f. 57v, Ascension, f. 60, Pentecost, f. 62v, Trinity Sunday; then resuming the Sanctorale with f. 65, Macarius (9 April), f. 66v, Landoaldus (18 March), f. 67v, John the Baptist, f. 69v, Peter and Paul, f. 71v, Landrada (8 July), f. 72, Mary Magdalene (22 July), f. 75, Assumption (15 August), f. 78, Visitation (2 July), f. 80v, Vinciana (11 September), f. 82, Bavo (1 October), f. 83, All Saints, f. 85v, Martin, f. 86, Livin, f. 88, Chrysogonos (24 November), f. 89, Catherine (25 November), f. 91, Anthony (17 January), f. 93, Holy Innocents (28 December), f. 95, Epiphany, f. 97v, St. Andrew (30 November) [Ends mid f. 99; remainder and f. 99v, blank];

Feasts from the Temporale and Sanctorale, mixed, generally arranged in the order of the calendar, but with a few exceptions, for example the Visitation (2 July) follows the Assumption (15 August), and Andrew (30 November) is at the end, following a number of feasts from December and January.

ff. 100-123v, Nota quod dominus Clemens papa composuit presentem missam in remedium epydimie et instituit quod quinque diebus continuis legi deberet cc lx dierum indulgentias concedens omnibus uere penitentibus eam cum candela audenti … Introitus, Recordare domine …; f. 102, Sciendum est quod sex misse possunt celebrari pro liberatione anime in purgatorio existentis in modum qui sequitur .. ; f. 105, selected masses from the Temporale, beginning with four Sundays in Advent, four Sundays in Lent, Passion Sunday, and Palm Sunday.

The first Mass, “pro remedium epydimie” (as a remedy against the plague) attributed to Pope Clement VI (pope from 1342-1352), is also found in Valenciennes, BM, MS 122, a Missal from Ghent, probably from the first quarter of the fifteenth century, and in Tournai, Musée du grand séminaire, cod. 23, a Missal produced in Bruges (?) c. 1405-1415 (see Online Resources below, description by Lebigue, who notes that this mass was widespread and cannot be used to localize a Missal). Followed by six Masses said for souls in purgatory on different days of the week and selected Masses for the Temporale.

ff. 124-130v, Masses of the Holy Trinity, Holy Spirit, Holy Cross and Virgin Mary [f. 130rv blank].

ff. 131-136v, In noua solempnitate corporis domini nostri ihesu christi, Corpus Christi (Thursday after Trinity Sunday), and f. 134, Michael [ends mid f. 136; remainder, and f. 136v, blank];

ff. 137-138v, Gloria and Creed [ends mid f. 138; remainder and f. 138v, blank];

ff. 139-145v, Missa de sanctis locis istius, incipit, Propitiare quesumus domine nobis famulis tuis per sanctorum confessorum tuorum …; f. 139v, Mass for All Saints; f. 140, for Peace; f. 140v, Missa generalis; f. 141v, Missa communis [ff. 143-144v, blank];

Mass for “the saints of this place” [includes Bavo, Landoald, Macarius, Amantius, Livnin, Adrian, Brice, Vinciana, Landrada, and Pharahildis] “atque ceterorum quorum reliquie in presenti requiescunt in ecclesia merita gloriosa.”

ff. 145-152v, Prefaces, through f. 150, noted; f. 152, collect, secret and post communion prayers added in a formal hand, probably shortly after the manuscript was made; f. 152v, prayer for Charles V added in a later hand on a folio that was originally left blank, incipit, “Et famulum tuum karolom electum romanorum imperatorem cum popuo sibi commisso …”;

[f. 153, blank] ff. 153v-162v, Canon, beginning with a full-page miniature of the Crucifixion; prayers, ff. 159-161, noted [f. 162v, blank];

ff. 163-188v, Common of Saints, Masses for the dead, for the Virgin and the Holy Spirit [ff. 187-188v, blank];

ff. 189-280v, Temporale, beginning with Christmas Masses at midnight and dawn, and continuing through Epiphany, Lent, ferial days after Easter, Sunday after Ascension, ferial days after Pentecost, and then Sundays after Pentecost, concluding with the twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost.

This manuscript is a Missal, the liturgical book used by the priest celebrating mass that includes all the prayers and readings spoken or sung during Mass. Missals, in other words, include in one volume the texts for the Mass that are also found in a number of separate liturgical volumes: Sacramentaries, that included the prayers said by the celebrant; Gospel books and Lectionaries used by the deacons and subdeacons for the biblical readings; and a variety of books including Graduals used by the Choir.

The Canon of the Mass is found here in the middle of the Missal, as was customary (ff. 153v-162v). These texts were said by the celebrant at every Mass, regardless of the time of year or feast being celebrated. The most important texts in a Missal, they were often introduced by an image of the Crucifixion. During Mass, the Priest kissed the image of the Crucifixion; here a smaller golden cross is provided for that purpose in the lower margin of the miniature (see de Hamel,1986, p. 192, pl. 197).

The order of the text of this Missal is idiosyncratic. Most Missals are arranged with two concurrent cycles, known the Temporale (the feasts that commemorate the life of Christ beginning with Advent, and including the movable feasts associated with Easter), and the Sanctorale (feasts for saints’ days, and other fixed celebrations), both in the order of the liturgical year, followed by the Common of Saints and Votive Masses; the Canon, and other unvarying prayers, are commonly in the middle of the book. Here the first series of Masses on ff. 36-99 include various feasts for the Temporale and Sanctorale combined, arranged roughly in liturgical order (with some exceptions); these seem to include what were probably the most important feasts of the liturgical year at St. Bavo. The arrangement of the texts that follow, including votive masses, Masses for the Common of Saints, and the remaining Masses of the Temporale, is more difficult to discern. Textual units are clearly defined by the quire structure and the presence of blank leaves at the end of the sections, but the logic of the order presented remains a puzzle. As noted above, this Missal survives in a very clean, almost pristine state. Given the apparent oddity of the order of its contents, it is possible it was not intended for actual liturgical use (as Lebigue suggested was the case of Tournai, Musée du grand séminaire, cod. 23, Online Resources), despite the few additions and other signs of possible use noted above. The matter deserves further study, especially since the inclusion of the table of contents at the beginning of the manuscript did in fact re-create the correct liturgical order of the contents.

This Missal includes contemporary Roman numerals that number the openings, in the middle upper margin on the verso, or the left-hand side of the double-page opening. The majority of manuscripts (and indeed even most fifteenth-century printed books) does not include folio numbers, which keep track of each leaf, or, as is common today, page numbers, which number both sides of the physical leaf independently. The folio numbers, or more properly, opening numbers, in this Missal were used by the scribe to reassemble the texts of the Missal (see above) in the correct liturgical order, as well as to provide cross-references within the text to avoid duplication.


Full page miniature of the Crucifixion, f. 153v, with Mary and John the Evangelist, and with roundels of the symbols of the four Evangelists at each corner, and an additional large gold cross in the middle lower margin, with a full border of black ink-sprays with colored leaves and gold flowers.

Quite apart from matters of style and other content, the salient features of this Crucifixion miniature are the symbols of Evangelists at each corner, and the extra devotional cross in the lower margin. These features are also found in Lille, Médiathèque municipale, MS 626 (Missal of Jean de Lannoy, by Ghent Privileges Master, Ghent or Tournai, between 1458-1460 (Clark, 2000, p. 349, color fig. 15); the miniature in the Missal described here is much simpler than the Lille miniature, and lacks the detailed background that distinguishes the Lille manuscript; the border decoration of the two is also different. Based on the available description, these features are also found in the Tournai missal described by Lebigue (see Online Resources).

As noted above, this manuscript may be related to the manuscripts associated with the Masters of the Gold Scrolls (active ca. 1410-1450, often associated with Bruges but not definitely localized), although its place within this large and rather diffuse grouping deserves further study; on the Masters of the Gold Scrolls, see Dogaer, 1987, pp. 27-37, and Smeyers, 1999, pp. 234-241.


Bracke, Wouter, Michel Oosterbosch, and Jan Willem Kleim, eds. Corpus catalogorum Belgii: The Medieval Booklists of the Southern Low Countries. Volume 3, Counts of Flanders, Provinces of East Flanders, Antwerp and Limburg, Brussels, 1999.

Clark, Gregory. Made in Flanders: the Master of the Ghent Privileges and Manuscript Painting in the Southern Netherlands in the Time of Philip the Good, Turnhout, Brepols, 2000.

Cottineau, L. H. Répertoire topo-bibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, Maçon, 1936-7.

De Hamel, Christopher. A History of Illuminated Manuscripts, Boston, David Godine, 1986.

Derolez, Albert. The Library of Raphael de Marcatellis, Abbot of St. Bavon's, Ghent, 1437-1508, Ghent, E. Story-Scientia, 1979.

Dogaer, Georges. Flemish Miniature Painting in the 15th and 16th Centuries, Amsterdam, 1987.

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

Monasticon belge. Tome VII, Province de Flandre orientale, premier volume, eds. G. Berings, G. A. Declercq, Ch. Lebbe, and H. Van Simaey, Bruges, 1988, (“Abbaye de Saint-Bavon à Gand,” ), pp. *11-*67.

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. Jacqueline Brown and William P. Stoneman, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1997, pp. 157-162.

Smeyers, Maurits. Flemish Miniatures from the 8th to the mid-16th Century: the Medieval World on Parchment, translation by Karen Bowen and Dirk Imhof, Turnhout, Belgium, Brepols, 1999.

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. Jacqueline Brown and William P. Stoneman, Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 1997, pp. 163-206.

Online resources

Bergendal Collection of Medieval Manuscripts

History of St. Bavo

History of the City of Ghent

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

Jean-Baptiste Lebigue, “Les livres de la messe. Le missel,” in Initiation aux manuscrits liturgiques, Paris-Orléans, IRHT, 2007 (Ædilis, Publications pédagogiques, 6)

British Library on the Mass

Thurston, Herbert. “Missal,” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 10, New York, Robert Appleton Company, 1911

British Library, Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, Yates Thompson, MS 16

Lebigue, Jean-Baptiste. “Missel festif selon les usages de Gand et Tournai (Tournai, Musée du grand séminaire, cod. 23),” in Catalogue de manuscrits liturgiques, IRHT, 2006-2009, Ædilis, Publications scientifiques, 7