TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Passionarium (Passional) [Passiones. Benedictiones. Lamentationes et reliqua]

In Latin and Spanish, decorated imprint on paper
Palencia, Diego de Cordoba, 1536

TM 723

Small in-folio (Royal 2° format), [4] + 116 ff., preceded by 3 paper leaves and followed by 4 + 2 paper leaves, complete (collation: sig. A4, a-o8), foliated in red in Roman numerals, printed in red and black, some vertical rubrics, title printed in red and black within a woodcut border incorporating the arms of Francisco de Mendoza, Bishop of Palencia, the same border repeated at intervals in the text; elaborate woodcut border at colophon; running headline throughout within woodcut scrolls; musical notation on six 5-line red staves; numerous printed initials in red or reserved on black filigree ornemental grounds (height of staves); numerous cadels on black grounds; 7 large Hispano-Mauresque woodcut initials and smaller initials printed in red and black; four leaves with painted illuminated and lettered borders (consecutively dark red (f. 15); blue (f. 34v); green (f. 50v) and black (f. 66v)); each section introduced with a large historiated initial showing Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane with three sleeping apostles (the historiated initial on f. 15 is highlighted in color). Bound in a contemporary Spanish binding of blind-tooled sheep, the front covers with a 17th century baroque painted Crucifix, the back cover with a monogram “IHS”, gilt-painted illusionistic cornerpieces, back sewn on 4 raised bands, traces of edges stained in red (A few paper restorations, binding a bit stained and worn, else in good condition). Dimensions 376 x 259 mm.

This is a copy of the first book printed in Palencia, of the utmost rarity with only three other copies recorded and in a fine original binding. It contains the choral music for the Passion and the Lamentations of Jeremiah to be used during the Easter Season to commemorate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The historiated initials and borders are attributed to designs by Juan de Vingles, a sixteenth-century Spanish book illustrator, and the copy is further elegantly enhanced in color in the borders with white lettering.


1. Printed in Palencia by Diego de Cordoba in 1536, as stated in the colophon (sig. o8v) which reads: “Impressum Palentie per Didacum de Cordova tipographum diligentia et industria reverendi domini Alfonsi Fernandi de Madrid: archidiaconi del Alcor: Canonici Palentini.”

Palencia is situated in north-west Spain, in the region of Castile and Leon. The present work is apparently the first imprint published in Palencia: indeed the printing press was set up relatively late compared to the first imprint from Spain, the Sinodal de Aguuilafuente, printed in Segovia, in 1472. Before the present 1536 imprint, there was an earlier single leaf printed in Palencia (but not a complete codex), an episcopal bull granted by the bishop Antonio de Rojas to the members of the Cofradia de San Antolin, with blanks to inscribe the names of the different members (see San Martin Payo, Catalogo del Archivo de la Catedral de Palencia, 1983, p. 22). In the study by M. Del Carmen Trapote, Panorama de la imprenta en Palencia, siglos XVI-XVIII, the author states: “El libro mas antiguo del que consta documentalmente fuese impreso en Palencia y del que se conservan ejemplares en la Biblioteca de la Catedral, es el titulado Passiones, Lamentationes et reliqua...” (M. Del Carmen Trapote, pp. 195-196).

Little is known of the printer Diego de Cordoba, whose output seems to have been limited to no more than three liturgical books, all commissioned by the bishops Francisco de Mendoza and Luis Cabeza de Vaca, both bishops of Palencia (respectively 1534-1536; and 1537-1550). This imprint is recorded in Palau y Dulcet (1959), no. 214430 and a copy is found in Madrid, Biblioteca nacional, R/31300. There are two other known copies, one in the monasterio de Poblet, the other in the Archivo de la Catedral de Palencia.

2. Cristobal de Capillas (unidentified), with his manuscript gilt inscription in Spanish on black painted panel mounted on the first back flyleaf, after the colophon leaf: “Este libro es de Cristobal de Capillas. Mando que sede a S. Catherina de Sena.” [This book belongs to Cristobal de Capillas. I ask that it remains in St.-Catherine of Siena]. On verso of panel the monogram IHS also gilt-painted.

3. Boston, Arthur Vershbow (1922-2012) and Charlotte Vershbow (1924-2000), bibliophiles and collectors of illustrated books and prints. Their bookplate pasted on the front pastedown.


sig. A1, Title-page, printed in red and black;

sig. A 1v, Dedication and table of contents;

sig. A 2-b6v, Noted asperges for the benediction of holy water (Ad aspersionem aque benedicte); Gospel tones for Christmas (Evangelium nativitatis Domini), and Epiphany; Blessing of the Ashes; Office for Palm Sunday;

sig. b7-e2v, Noted Passion according to Saint Matthew [Palm Sunday]; 

sig. e2v-g2v, Noted Passion according to Saint Mark [Holy Tuesday];

sig. g2v-i2v, Noted Passion according to Saint Luke [Holy Wednesday];

sig. i2v-k7v, Noted Passion according to Saint John [Good Friday];

sig. k8-n1, Lamentations for the Lord’s Supper [Holy Thursday];

sig. n1v-o5v, Lamentations for the Parasceve [Good Friday];

On the transmission of the Lamentations of Jeremiah in Iberia, and the inextricable tie between manuscript and print ensuring this transmission, see Jane Morlet Hardie, “Salamanca to Sydney: A Newly-Discovered Manuscript of the Lamentations of Jeremiah”, in T. Bailey and A. Santosuosso, ed., Music in Medieval Europe. Studies in Honor of Bryan Gillingham, 2007, pp. 11-22; and J. Morlet Hardie, The Lamentations of Jeremiah: Ten Sixteenth-Century Spanish Prints, IMS Collected Works, Vol. 22, Ottawa, 2003. The earliest appearances of the Lamentations seem to be in the Bible of Burgos (tenth century) and in Aquitanian sources from Huesca (see Jane Morlet Hardie, 2007, p. 13, note 7). The Lamentations here contain the texts and music for the first nocturn of Matins, and the texts for the second and third nocturns for each of the three days (Holy Thursday; Good Friday; Holy Saturday) of tenebrae.

sig. o5v-o8, Hymns for the Blessing of Easter Candles (Benedictio cerei Paschalis) [Holy Saturday]; of Baptismal Waters (Benedictio fontis); for Easter Procession; 

sig. o8v, Colophon: “Impressum Palentie per Didacum de Cordova tipographum diligentia et industria reverendi domini Alfonsi Fernandi de Madrid: archidiaconi del Alcor: Canonici Palentini.”

This imprint contains the complete music composed in sacred monophony for the Passions of Christ, together with music for the Lamentations of Jeremiah, and the Blessing of the Candles used during Holy Week. It includes the Passion of St. Matthew as performed on Palm Sunday, that of St. Mark on Holy Tuesday, St. Luke on Holy Wednesday, and that of St. John on Good Friday. The Lamentations of Jeremiah were performed on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of Holy Week. The final piece of music for the blessing of the candles takes place on Holy Saturday, completed with the music for the Blessing of Baptismal Waters and Easter Procession.

This is a good example of a “Passionarium” or “Passional”, not be be confused with the book called Passionary or Legendary which is a liturgical service-book that contains hagiographical collections and lives of the Saints ordered according to their feast days and providing the relevant readings. A Passional is a common liturgical chant book in Spain. It typically contained all or some of the texts and music for either or both the Office and/or Mass from Palm Sunday to Easter Day. Since Holy Week is such an important period of commemoration in Spain, and its attendant rituals are so rich and complex, it made sense to isolate this material in a given book, a single easily transportable volume (see J. Morlet Hardie, 2007, pp. 12-13).

Passionals of this sort enjoyed immense popularity in the Iberian peninsula (both in Spain and in Portugal), with a number of editions printed throughout the sixteenth century. Amonsgt the earlier Passionals, see for instance a Passionarius printed in 1502 in Zaragoza (see Martin Abad, Post-incunables ibéricos, 2001, p. 412); a Passionarium Burgenses, printed in Burgos (c. 1505-1508) (see Martin Abad, Post-incunables ibéricos, 2001, pp. 412-414; there is an example of this imprint in the Hispanic Society of America, HC 380/851).

The present extremely rare imprint was printed in Palencia, ordered by the Bishop Francisco de Mendoza, but in fact assembled by Alonso Fernandez de Madrid (1475-1559), a canon of the Cathedral of Palencia from 1497 onwards.  Renowned from a young age for his preaching and intellectual gifts, Alonso Fernandez de Madrid served the Bishop Francisco de Mendoza y Cordoba and his successor Luis Nunez Cabeza de Vaca as vicar-general and archdeacon. Alonso Fernandez de Madrid was responsible for the translation of Erasmus’s Enchiridion completed at the start of 1525. He is responsible for the present service-book Passiones, Benedictiones, Lamentationes, et reliqua which he edited for his cathedral (see R. W. Truman, “Alonso Fernandez de Madrid” in Contemporaries of Erasmus, Toronto, 1985, pp. 24-25).

The imprint is illustrated with borders and cuts associated with the engraver Juan de Vingles who signed IDV or a crowned heart, although none of the cuts found here contain the monogram IDV. There is however in this imprint a cut reproduced in E. Thomas, 1949, pl. 7, attributed to Juan de Vingles, engravor and illustrator. The historiated initials, marking the major liturgical sections, present all the same cut with Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane with three sleeping apostles.

References: Palau y Dulcet, no. 214430; Burger, Die Drucker und Verleger in Spanien und Portugal von 1501-1536, Leipzig, 1913, p. 20 (on Diego de Cordoba); recorded in Fernandez de la Cuesta, 1966, “Elenco de impresos liturgicos musicales. Siglos XV y XVI”, p. 24.

Inserted bi-folium, bound between the first and second paper back flyleaves; containing a text coipied in two columns in a cursive later seventeenth-century script: “Signification del numero y mysterio de las çinco missas” [Meaning of the number and mystery of the five masses]. The text is inlaid within a painted border and punctuated by a few representations of Arma Christi (drops of blood, nails, crown of thorns). On the verso of the first leaf of bi-folium, there is a composition with central monograms “IHS” and “Maria” surrounded by four gold fleur-de-lys at angles and an inscription in Latin and Spanish “Apexi mii portes iusticiae” and “Abries me las puertas de la justicia.”

Text of the inserted bi-folium (in Spanish):
Rubric, Signification del numero y mysterio de las çinco missas; incipit, “Estas çinco missas se puedan aplicar a si sinzera y llana mente a las cinco llagas de christo...”; explicit, “[...] en quanto el tiene por bien que darse con nosotros conforme a lo que el dize ecce ego vobiscum sum usque as consumationem secula”; second heading, De los sacramento[s]; incipit, “Cosa admirablees ver y considerar estas grandezas...”; explicit, “[...] y le contenplamos que es un principio de la vida eterna ad quam nos perducat.”


Anglès, H. and J. Subira. Catálogo de la Biblioteca nacional de Madrid ... Il impresos. Libros liturgicos y teoricos musicales, Barcelona, 1949.

Anninger, A. Spanish and Portuguese 16th Century Books in the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts, Cambridge, The Houghton Library, 1985.

Braun, Warner and Kurt Von Fischer, “Passion”, in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 29 vols., ed. Stanley Sadie, New York, Macmillan Publishers Limited, 2001.

Braun, Werner, Kurt Von Fischer, and Karlheinz Schlager, “Passion”, in Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart: allgemeine Enzyklopädie der Musik, 2nd ed., 26 vols., ed. Friedrich Blume and revised by Ludwig Finscher, Kassel, Metzler, 1994.

Fernandez de la Cuesta, I. dir. “Libros de musica liturgica impresos en España antes de 1900”, in Musica: Revista del Real Conservatorio Superior de Musica, 1 (1994).

Gonzalez Valle, José-Vicente. La tradición del canto litúrgico de la Pasión en España: estudio sobre las composiciones monódicas y polifónicas del “cantus passionis” en las catedrales de Aragón y Castilla, Barcelona, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1992.

Hardie, Jane Morlet. “Liturgical Books for Use in Spain 1468-1568: Puzzles in Parchment and Print”, Musica antiqua 9 (1991), pp. 279-319.

Hardie, Jane Morlet. “Salamanca to Sydney: A Newly-Discovered Manuscript of the Lamentations of Jeremiah”, in T. Bailey and A. Santosuosso, ed., Music in Medieval Europe. Studies in Honor of Bryan Gillingham, Aldershot, England and Burlington, Vermont, 2007, pp. 11-22.

Hardie, Jane Morlet. The Lamentations of Jeremiah: Ten Sixteenth-Century Spanish Prints, IMS Collected Works, vol. 22, Ottawa, 2003.

Martin Abad, J. and Altes i Aguilo, F. X. Catálogo de libros litúrgicos, españoles y portugueses, impresos en los siglos XV y XVI, Pontevedra,1996.

Martin Abad, J. Post-incunables ibéricos, Madrid, 2001.

Palau y Dulcet, A. Manual del librero hispanoamericano. Bibliografia général espanola e hispanoamericana..., Barcelona, 1959, vol. 12.

Smallman, Basil. The Background of Passion Music: J.S. Bach and his Predecessors. New York, Dover Publications, 1957; reprint 1970.

Thomas, H. “Juan de Vingles, a Sixteenth Century Book Illustrator”, The Library 18 (1937-1938), pp. 121-177.

Thomas, Enrique. Juan de Vingles. Ilustrador de libros españoles en el siglo XVI, Valencia, 1949 (Spanish version of the original English).

Truman, R. W. “Alonso Fernandez de Madrid” in Contemporaries of Erasmus, Toronto, 1985, pp. 24-25.

Trapote, Maria del Carmen. “Panorama de la imprenta en Palencia. Siglos XVI-XVIII”, Publicaciones de la institucion Tello Tellez de Meneses 59 (1988), pp. 189-222.

Witzenmann, Wolfgang. “Passione”, in Dizionario enciclopedico universale della musica e dei musicisti: il lessico, 4 vols., ed. Alberto Basso, Torino, UTET, 1983-1984.