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les Enluminures

Noted Hybrid Missal (Use of Rome)

In Latin, imprint on paper with added decorated manuscript sections on parchment, all with musical notation
Venice, Nicolaus of Frankfurt, 1484 (imprint); Low Countries, c. 1485-1500 (manuscript)

TM 915

In-8o format, 312 + i (parchment) folios [11 parchment manuscript leaves, and an imprint on paper with 301 leaves], modern foliation in pencil, upper outer rectos, first 9 leaves, 1-9, and part III, inserted manuscript leaves,1-9, lacking one printed leaf following f. 8 in part I and two printed leaves, sig. r4 and sig. r5, else complete (collation ff. 1-9v, i10 [ff. 1-9v, a printed leaf lacking between ff. 8 and 9; outer bifolium, ff. 1 and 9, parchment]; II. a-q8 r8 [sig. r4 and sig. r5 lacking; with III. ff. 1-9v, manuscript quire inserted after sig. r3, i10 [one leaf canceled before f. 1, with no loss of text)]), s-y8 1-158), layout varies: I. ff. 1-9v, imprint (ff. 2-8v) printed in Gothic type in black and red, with printed red initials and painted blue initials, placed within manuscript bifolium, with one leaf (f. 9) ruled in ink with full-length horizontal and vertical bounding lines (justification 117 x 73-74 mm.), written in a heavy Gothic bookhand with some hybrida characteristics on twenty long lines, red rubrics, capitals highlighted in red, one- to two-line red initials, annotations to imprint portion in at least one fifteenth-century hand; II. sig. a1 recto-sig. r3 verso, sig. r6 recto-sig. 15-8 verso, printed in Gothic type of two sizes in black and red in two columns, square musical notation written in dark brown ink on four-line staves printed in red in two columns, black capitals highlighted in red, full-page woodcut with added highlights, printed red initials, paraphs and initials painted in blue, slightly yellowed with damp spots in a few small areas, faded text touched up by hand throughout, running headers and marginal numbering added in light brown ink in eighteenth-century(?) hand (sig. t7 recto-sig. 8-8 verso), annotations in at least one other early hand; III. following sig. r3, ff. 1-9v, ruled in brown crayon with full-length vertical bounding lines (justification 108-109 x 67-73 mm.), written in dark brown ink in a heavy Gothic bookhand in two columns of sixteen lines, square musical notation on four-line staves of red or brown ink, red rubrics, capitals highlighted in red, one-line crosses in red or blue, one- and two-line initials in red or blue, five-line parted blue initial with red pen decoration and infill of red penwork and brown wash (f. 1), fore-edge tabs throughout II and III, made from parchment and thread of various hues, small hole in sig. a1 with slight loss of text, some small water stains and slight soiling without loss of legibility, otherwise in very fine condition.  Early (possibly contemporary) brown leather binding blind-tooled with two concentric rectangular frames of three fillets and blind-stamped with foliate or floral designs (now barely visible), over wooden boards, spine with three raised bands, traces of two fore-edge clasps, back to front, with leather straps lacking, both boards and first quire completely unattached, second quire quite loose and three subsequent quires slightly loose, leather of upper board and spine torn and mostly raised, wood of lower inner corner of upper board damaged and broken away, housed in a fitted brown box.  Dimensions 155-156 x 105-106 mm.

Music posed special problems for early printers.  Here is a fascinating example of a hybrid music book, part incunable, part manuscript, printed in Venice and adapted in the Northern Netherlands.  The volume preserves its original Venetian woodcut; the musical notation is hand written on printed staves, and painted initials are added. Early in its history, a manuscript quire replaced the printed Canon of the Mass, further customized by an addition of a manuscript bifolium.  Still preserved in an early binding, this is a volume of special interest to scholars studying the history of the book.


1. Printed in Venice in 1484 by Nicolaus of Frankfurt (colophon on sig. 15-7 recto).  The Missal follows the use of Rome and this, as well as the prominence of Franciscan feasts in both the calendar and the Sanctorale, indicates that it was made for the use of Franciscans.

Judging from evidence of script and decoration, the manuscript additions to this volume were probably made within decades of the imprint’s publication, c. 1485-1500, likely in the Low Countries.  Although it is possible that the most substantial addition, the Canon of the Mass (ff. 1-9v in part III), could have been added to replace printed leaves worn out from heavy use (the Canon generally being the most heavily used part of the Missal), we suggest it may have been added to provide a Canon that was easier for a priest to use (see Text, below).  The other addition (f. 9 in part I), which provides alternate prayers to be said at the Mass for the feast of Saint Bernardino of Siena, (canonized 1450) suggests ongoing Franciscan use of the manuscript.  A roughly contemporaneous hand also added the feasts of the Franciscan Saint Bonaventure and his octave (14 July, 21 July, canonized 1482) and the Division of the Apostles (15 July) to the calendar.

2. A fifteenth- or sixteenth-century inscription in Dutch, “In dye tyt der geen[?] geden sprack dye heer tot synnen <…>” (f. 1v of I) indicates that this volume was in use in the Low Countries by the end of the fifteenth century or early sixteenth century.

3. Belonged to Fredericus Vehr, vicar of Rheinberg; his ownership inscription on f. 2v of I: “Fredericij Vehr Vicarius Bercensis me vtitur iusto titulo [Fredericus Vehr, vicar of [Rhein]berg uses me by fair title].”  One Casparus Fredericus Vehr studied at Leiden University at the end of the seventeenth century (see Album studiosorum, 1875).  The same Fredericus Vehr might have served as a vicar in Rheinberg, in North Rhine-Westphalia, not far from the Low Countries.  It is possible that he added the running headers and marginal notes in the Temporale and Sanctorale.


I. ff. 1-9v, a manuscript bifolium (f. 1, f. 9) wrapped around a printed calendar:

f. 1rv, blank parchment leaf with later inscription;

[f. 2, blank]; f. 2v, [Printed directions for reading the facing table using the golden number and dominical letter for a given liturgical year] incipit, “Si quis vult scire septuagesimam cineres et reliqua festa mobilia …”; f. 3, table giving the dates of Septuagesima Sunday, Ash Wednesday, Easter, and the feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost, as well as the number of Sundays following Pentecost in different liturgical years; [f. 3v, blank];

ff. 4-8v, Printed calendar with many important Franciscan feasts including the Five Friars Minor (16 January), the Translation of Anthony (15 February), the Translation of Bernardino (17 May), the Translation of Francis (25 May), Anthony (13 June), Impression of the Stigmata (17 September), the Translation of Clare (2 October), and Francis (4 October);

f. 9, In festo sancti barnardini [sic] confessor ordinis minorum Ad missam omnia dicuntur de communi vnius confessoris non pontificis orationes et Alleluia vt hic habetur, incipit, “DEus qui ecclesiam tuam noua semper prole … in prodigijs omnipotentis floruit.  Alleuia”; [f. 9v, blank];

Added prayers to be said as part of the Mass for the feast of Saint Bernardino of Siena.

II. Printed Missal with III., added manuscript Canon:

sig. a1 recto-sig. r3 recto, Temporale, from the first Sunday in Advent to Holy Saturday, followed by the Ordinary and noted Prefaces for particular seasons and feasts;

Tabs mark the prayers and readings for the Masses of Saint Stephen, Saint John the Evangelist, and the Holy Innocents (sig. b4); the Ordinary of the Mass, from the beginning to the Orate fratres (sig. p8); the first of the noted Prefaces, to be sung from the Vigil of the Nativity through Epiphany (sig. q2); and the noted Prefaces to be sung at major feasts (sig. q8).

III. ff. 1-9v, [added manuscript quire], Ordinary of the Mass, from the Canon to the Final Prayer and Dismissal;

Tabs mark the Consecration (f. 2) and the noted Communion (f. 5).

sig. r6 recto-r7 verso, Ordinary of the Mass, from the noted Communion to the Final Prayer and Dismissal;

sig. r7 verso-sig. 1-7 verso, Temporale, from Easter Sunday through the twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost;

Tabs mark the prayers and readings for Easter Sunday Mass (sig. r8) and for the Mass for the feast of Corpus Christi (sig. v8).

sig. 1-7 verso-sig. 8-8 recto, Sanctorale, from Saint Andrew (30 November) to Saint Catherine (25 November);

Tabs mark the prayers and readings for the Mass for Saint Andrew (sig. 1-8); for the Masses of Saint Agatha, Saint Peter’s Chair, or Saint Matthew (sig. 3-3); for Saint Mary Magdalene or Saint James (sig. 5-6); for Saint Francis (sig. 8-1); and Saints Simon and Jude or the feast of All Saints (sig. 8-3).

sig. 8-8 recto-sig. 15-7 recto, Common of the Saints, followed by Masses for the dedication of the church and altar, votive Masses (including, among others, Masses for the Holy Trinity, Hoy Spirit, Holy Cross, and Blessed Virgin, as well as for peace, rain, health, friends, the emperor, and the king and against persecutors, temptation of the flesh, bad thoughts, pagans, sterility, and plague), Masses for the dead, and the hymn Dies irae;

Tabs mark prayers and readings for Masses celebrating the feast of one martyr (sig. 9-5), the feast of multiple virgins (sig. 11-5), additional prayers and readings for Masses between Septuagesima Sunday and Easter (sig. 12-2), and the first of the Masses for the dead (sig. 14-1).  There are traces where tabs have now been lost marking the beginning of the Common of the Saints (sig. 8-8) and several subsequent items within it.

sig. 15-7 recto, incipit, “Impressum venetijs arte et impensis Nicholai de Franckfordia.  Anno domini M.cccc lxxxiiij.  Deo gratias”; [sig. 15-7 verso-sig. 15-8 verso, blank].

Printed in Venice in 1484 by Nicolaus of Frankfurt; for this edition see Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke, 1968- [in progress], M24037; ISTC im00696300, with complete references to other printed sources (Online Resources).


One full-page woodcut:

sig. r3 verso, Crucifixion, with the Virgin Mary and John standing at the foot of the cross and two angels catching the blood from Christ’s wounds in three goblets, with added red paint highlighting the wounds of the crucified Christ and the cheeks and lips of each face.

Manuscript additions enrich this early printed Roman Missal, edited by Philippus de Rotingo, a fifteenth-century Franciscan friar known for his editions of ecclesiastical works, and printed in 1484 by Nicolaus of Frankfurt, a German printer and supplier of books active in late fifteenth-century Venice (1473-1516).  Nicolaus first worked in Venice from 1473 to 1476 with Franz R. von Heilbronn, but by the time he printed this Missal, the first of six editions of Missals he published, he had established his own printing press.  Nicolaus had earlier printed Philippus de Rotingo’s edition of the Roman Breviary, in 1481.  There are only sixteen other known copies of this edition, nine imperfect, all in European repositories (see “Missale Romanum” in Online Resources).  Our copy has been finished by hand with painted paraphs and initials, as well as with musical notation written on printed staves.

Missals are liturgical books that include the texts necessary to celebrate the Mass, including the prayers for the celebrant, as well as the biblical readings, read or chanted by the sub-deacon or deacon, and the texts sung by the choir (in this case mostly without musical annotation apart from the Prefaces and parts of the Canon).  As is stated in the opening rubric, this is a Missal following the Use of the Roman Court (secundum consuetudinem romane curie), the use followed by the Franciscan order since the thirteenth century. 

This Missal is of particular interest because of its many and varied signs of use. The Canon of the Mass was inserted on a manuscript quire relatively soon after the Missal was published.  It could have been added to replace the leaves (sig. r4-sig. r5), now missing, on which the Canon was once printed.  The Canon consists of the texts said by the celebrant at every Mass, regardless of the time of year or the feast being celebrated, so its rapid wear and subsequent replacement are not surprising; indeed, the reverse phenomenon – printed Canons in manuscript Missals, replacing worn-out manuscript Canons – was also present in the fifteenth century (White, 2016).  Here, however, other possibilities suggest themselves.  For one thing, the manuscript Canon supplies significantly more text than was lost from the printed book.  Perhaps the book’s earliest owner (a celebrant himself?) preferred the manuscript’s format for regular use, with its significantly larger script and vivid crosses and rubrics visually breaking up the text on the page?  Other early additions, including additions to the printed calendar and the leaf bearing variant prayers to be said at the Mass for the feast of Saint Bernardino of Siena (f. 9 of I), indicate the book’s ongoing use and, perhaps in the case of the latter, an effort to keep it liturgically up to date.

Centuries later, someone was still using this Missal, possibly the vicar Fredericus Vehr who left his ownership inscription on one of the opening pages (f. 2v of I).  A seventeenth- or eighteenth-century hand added running headers to the second part of the Temporale and the entire Sanctorale, as well as some additional marginal notations.  These, like the fore-edge tabs, would have made it easier for the owner to navigate the capacious volume and swiftly find Masses for different points in the liturgical year.


Album studiosorum academiae Lugduno-Batavae, MDLXXV-MDCCCLXXV, The Hague, 1875.

Harper, John.  The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy from the Tenth to the Eighteenth Century: A Historical Introduction and Guide for Students and Musicians, Oxford,1991.

Hindman, Sandra.  Pen to Press, Paint to Print: Manuscript Illumination and Early Prints in the Age of Gutenberg, Catalogue 14, Paris and Chicago, 2009.

Hughes, Andrew.  Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A guide to their organization and terminology, Toronto, 1982.

Palazzo, Eric.  A History of Liturgical Books from the Beginning to the Thirteenth Century, trans. Madeleine Beaumont, Collegeville, 1998.

Walsby, Malcolm and Natasha Constantinidou, ed.  Documenting the Early Modern Book World: Inventories and Catalogues in Manuscript and Print, Leiden, 2013.

White, Eric Marshall. “Fust & Schoeffer’s Canon Missae and the Invention of the Hybrid Book,” Columbia University, 9 March 2016.  [talk delivered as part of the 2015-2016 Book History Colloquium at Columbia University]

Online Resources

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

“Missale Romanum.  Ed. Philippus de Rotingo,” Incunabula Short Title Catalogue

Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke, 1968- [in progress] online, M24037

Robinson, Paschal. “Franciscan Order,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 6, New York, 1909

Thurston, Herbert.  “Missal,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 10, New York, 1911