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Ordo ad inun/gendum infirmum &/ ad communicandum at/que ad mortuum sepeli/endum. Secundum/ Cisterciensis or/dinis consu/etudinem [Ordo for the anointing and communion of the sick and for burial of the dead, Cistercian Use]; Noted Texts for the Office of the Dead and Requiem Mass(manuscript)

In Latin, imprint on paper and manuscript on parchment
Coïmbra, Johannes Alvarus [Juan Alvarez or João Alvarez], 1555 and Portugal (?), c. 1550-1575

TM 668

44 folios (imprint) + 22 folios (manuscript), leaves prececded by 5 paper flyleaves (1 + 2 bi-folia) and followed by 3 paper flyleaves, both imprint and manuscript apparently complete (collation imprint: A-E8, F4; collation manuscript: i6, ii-iii4, iv2), imprint printed in red and black in Roman type, printed music on 4-line red staves with square musical notation; manuscript copied by two hands, the first (ff. 1-6v; ff. 21v-22) an upright humanist script imitating Roman type; the second (ff. 6v-21v) a rounded gothic textura script, rubrics in red, square musical notation on six 5-line red staves (justification 110 x 75 mm), some initials as simple cadels, initials in red with some on red or brown ink filigree grounds, a few initials with added purple or red penwork with bestiary, grotesques or human faces (see ff. 3v, 13v, 17v, 18v, 20), one larger openng initial 2-staves high traced in brown ink with red snake traced in the letter on a ground of red and brown penwork (bird, rinceaux and floral motifs). Bound in contemporary mid-sixteenth century (apparently French) binding of brown calf over pasteboards, boards tooled in blind with multiple frames traced in blind and four fleur-de-lys at outer angles, ropework tools in intermediary frame and again four fleur-de-lys at angles of central frame, a simple fleuron at the center of inner frame, back sewn on 3 thongs, single fleur-de-lys on spine, remnants of ties (now wanting) (Some internal soiling, a few paper leaves in imprint with foxing; worn at head and foot of spine). In a fitted articulated box. Dimensions 140 x 95 mm. 

Interesting association of a rare imprint from Coïmbra and a manuscript with complementary contents. The printed Ordines offers Cistercian rituals and services including visitation of the sick and the rites for the dying. The manuscript that follows is contemporary with the imprint and includes only the chants for these same occasions, delicately decorated with calligraphic penwork typical of liturgical manuscripts in Portugal of the period. An insription in Portuguese records its ownership in the late sixteenth century by a woman, perhaps a Cistercian nun.  


1. Printed in Coïmbra by Juan Alvarez [João Alvares] in 1555, as stated in the colophon (sig. F4v). Appended to the imprint is a manuscript portion, apparently copied at about the same time as the imprint. Although the present imprint was printed explicitly for Cistercian use (see title-page), it is not known for which Cistercian foundation this hybrid book was intended or first used. There were certainly Cistercian foundations in and around the vicinity of Coïmbra (for instance the Alcobaça Monastery, one of the first foundations of the Cistercian Order in Portugal; or Mosteiro Santa Maria de Celas, in the district of Coimbra, a female Cistercian foundation). However, there is no internal indication in this imprint pointing to a specific Cistercian foundation.

Located in central Portugal, Coïmbra was renowned for its university, one of the oldest in Europe, founded in 1290 and installed in the first half of the sixteenth century in the Alcaçova Palace. It was there in the Palace that the University Press was installed in 1537.   Printing was introduced quite late in Coïmbra. In 1546, presided by the friar and rector Diego de Murça, the University Council of Coïmbra gave the printer Joao Alvares power of attorney to travel to Lisbon in order to collect “all the printing material for the university.” Through the practice set up by João Alvares, the University thus possessed a valuable set of printing material and devices. From 1542 onwards, the printers João de Barreira and the present João Alvarez were granted the privilege of exclusive right to print for the University.  João Alvarez referred to himself in his colophons as “Typographus Universitatis” or “Typographus Regius.”

2. Inscription on upper pastedown in Portuguese (late 16th or early 17th c.): “Este livro he de Donna Antonia de Magahari...” The manuscript was thus owned by a woman, Antonia de Magahari, perhaps a Cistercian nun. Other inscriptions in the same hand are found on f. 22 (manuscript section) and on the recto of the first back flyleaf: “O die soror nostra desesit...” [O day on which our sister has passed...]. This inscription again suggests the manuscript and imprint was used in a female monastic environment, likely Cistercian given the expressed use of the imprint. Although bound in France, the codex was clearly used in Portugal, given the annotations found on the flyleaves (French paper stock).

3. North American Private Collection.


sig. A1, Title-page: Ordo ad inun/gendum infirmum &/ ad communicandum at/que ad mortuum sepeli/endum. Secundum/ Cisterciensis or/dinis consu/etudinem. 1555.

sig. A2-A7v, Ordo for the visitation and unction of the sick (Quo ordine inungantur infirmi...);

sig. A8-A8v, Ordo for communion of the sick (Ordo ad communicandum infirmum);

sig. B1-E2, Ordo for the burial of the dead (Ordo ad inhumandum fratrem mortuum);

sig. E2v-E6, Ordo for the processions for anniversaries of the dead (Quo ordine fiunt processiones in anninersariis (sic) solemnibus defunctorum);

sig. E6-F4v, Ordo for the blessing of monks or nuns (Ordo benedicendi monachos vel moniales), including the Blessing of the veils (Benedictio velaminis, sig. F3);

Noteworthy are the masculine and feminine versions of the prayers supplied in parentheses for the masculine version and printed in red for the feminine version, allowing for the eye to rapidly apprehend the differently gendered versions of the prayers. 

sig. F4v, Colophon, “Conimcricae. Excudebat Ioannes Alvarus typographus Regi. Finis. MDLV.”

Imprint recorded in Anselmo, Bibliografia das obras impressas em Portugal no século XVI, Lisbon, 1926, no. 71, p. 19; Lemos, Maria Luisa. Impressos musicais da Biblioteca Geral da Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, 1980, p. 59 (three copies in Coimbra); Catalogo dos impressos de tipografia portuguesa do século XVI, Lisbon, no. 363 (two copies in Lisbon).

ff. [I-II] (front paper flyleaves), Hymns (later 17th c. hand), on paper (watermark is an exact match with Briquet, no. 12820 (Pot à une anse accompagné d'un nom entier “Matthieu Simonet”): Beauvais, 1540; Paris, 1551-1552; paper of French stock is earlier than hand, and is contemporary with the French binding): “Sancta Maria incurre miseris...”; 

ff. 1-22, Noted texts, incipit, “Subvenite sancti dei occurrite angeli...”; rubric, In prima vigilia antiphona (f. 8); incipit, “Dirige domine deus meus in conspectu...”; rubric, In secunda vegilia (sic) antiphona (f. 10v), incipit, “In loco pascue ibi me collocavit...”; rubric, In tercia vigilia antiphona (f. 13); incipit, “Complaceat tibi domine ut eruas me...”; rubric, In laudibus antiphona (f. 16); incipit, “Exultabunt domino ossa humiliata...”; rubric, Ad benedictus antiphona (f. 17); incipit, “Ego sum resurrectio et vita...”; rubric, Invitatorium (f. 17v); incipit, “Regem cui omnia vivunt...”; (f. 21v, Gradual), In memoria eterna erit iustus ab auditionem mala non timebit.”

Noted texts for the Burial Service, Office of the Dead, and Requiem Mass.

This imprint contains a small selection of Ordines for a number of rituals such as the visitation, anointing and communion of the sick, the burial and anniversaries of the deceased as well as for the blessing and vows of monks or nuns. This Ordo is printed for use within Cistercian foundations as stated on the title-page: “Secundum Cisterciensis ordinis consuetudinem.”

An Ordo (plural Ordines) is a type of ritual or ceremonial book containing directions for the performance of one or a number of liturgical Offices. It served as a reference manual for the cantor, the master of ceremonies or hebdomadarian who had the responsibility for assuring the celebration of liturgy. Usually in a given Ordo, one finds only the incipits of the readings, prayers and chants: the full form had to be sought in the relevant Mass or Office Book. The term is usually applied to a larger group of documents than the selection found here, the Ordines romani, whose manuscript tradition begins in the eighth century. These Ordines – a few of which are here gathered separately – are sometimes found in other books such as Sacramentaries and later Pontificals and Rituals. Sacramentaries provide the priest's texts at other occasions besides Mass, supplying the texts for ordinations, the consecration of a church and altar and many exorcisms, blessings, and consecrations. Eventually “special” books were arranged and through the Middle Ages a vast number of handbooks for priests having the care of souls were written. Every local rite, every order (as here the Cistercians) almost every diocese, had such books: many were compilations for the convenience of one priest or church. Such books were called by many names: Manuale, Liber agendarum, Agenda, Sacramentale, Ordines, sometimes Rituale. This little collection of ordines and its added manuscript, was copied in a conveniently small format, and could certainly have been carried in one's pocket or used when visiting monasteries for specific rituals such as burials or religious profession and vows.

The manuscript that follows is contemporary with the printed text, and it includes only the chants and musical notation for many of the liturgical occasions described in the printed text. These two sections have been bound together since the mid-sixteenth century. Although at first it seems unusual that an early owner wanted two copies of the same texts, it is likely that the manuscript was copied for actual use by a singer participating in the liturgy, whereas the more complete printed Ordo was used for reference.

This codex is a fine example of the association of an imprint with an appended manuscript portion, personalizing and adapting a more general imprint for a local use. The manuscript portion of the codex does not reveal textually any specific use for a given monastery, but it most certainly was copied in a Portuguese environment. The very delicate penwork in purple and pale brown ink, with a selection of birds and other beastiary is quite typical of Portuguese calligraphic penwork, often found in liturgical service-books of the second half of the sixteenth century. For instance the most talented calligraphers supplied the penwork in volumes such as the illuminated Gradual from the Convent of Nossa Senhora da Anunciada (Lisbon) (see D'Alvarenga, J. P. et alia (ed). Tesouros da Biblioteca Nacional, Lisbon, 1992, fig. 6).


D'Alvarenga, J. P. et alia, ed. Tesouros da Biblioteca Nacional, Lisbon, 1992.

Anselmo, A. J. Bibliografia das obras impressas em Portugal no século XVI, Lisbon, 1926.

Lemos, Maria Luisa. Impressos musicais da Biblioteca Geral da Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, 1980.

Palazzo, E. Histoire des livres liturgiques: Le Moyen Age, des origines au XIIIe siècle, Paris, 1993.

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.

Rouillard, Philippe. Histoire des liturgies chrétiennes de la mort et des funérailles, Paris, Cerf, 1999.

Online resources

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

Jean-Baptiste Lebigue. “L’organisation du culte. Ordines, statuts et coutumes”, in Initiation aux manuscrits liturgiques, Ædilis, Publications pédagogiques, 6, Paris-Orléans, IRHT, 2007

Jean-Baptiste Lebigue. “L’organisation du culte. Liturgie des défunts” in Initiation aux manuscrits liturgiques, Ædilis, Publications pédagogiques, 6, Paris-Orléans, IRHT, 2007