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les Enluminures

Liturgical Rites and Prayers used by a Bishop

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Central France, c. 1040-1075

TM 834
  • 154 800 €
  • £129,700
  • $175,000

i (paper) + 49 + i (paper) folios on parchment (pronounced difference between hair and flesh sides), modern foliation in ink, top upper margin, 1-6, 6bis, 7-48, complete (collation i8 [+ one leaf added after 6, f. 6bis] ii-vi8), no catchwords or signatures, ruled in hard point with the top two and bottom two rules full across, full length vertical bounding lines, double in the outer margins, prickings remain in the three outer margins of most folios (justification 185 x 113 mm.), written in black, brown and light brown ink, copied mainly by one scribe with additions by five others; scribe one, ff. 1-32, 33-38v, 40-44; scribe two, f. 32rv; scribe three, ff. 38v-40; scribe four, ff. 44v-45; scribe five, ff. 45v-46; scribe six: f. 6bis and ff. 46-48v, on the top line in a Carolingian minuscule script in one column of up to 19 lines, each scribe commonly used e-caudata (ę), ‘æ,’ and ‘st’, ‘ct’ and ‘rt’ ligatures and vary between ‘y’ and ‘i’, scribe one often includes elongated descending minims on the bottom line; ff. 1v, 2, 8 and 11v, with staffless neumes in diastematic Aquitanian musical notation, rubrics in red or pale red, a few guide letters for initials, majuscules touched in red within the text, 2- to 3-line initials in text ink or in red, many with penwork foliate decoration or red ink coloring (for example, ff. 10v, 11v, 17), some with abbreviations inside (for example, “O/mps,” for “omnipotens,”  ff. 22 and 44v, “D/s” for “Deus,” f. 24v), large initial ‘O’ with an eight-part roundel in red ink, f. 10v,  f.1 stained, small tear f. 26; cockling throughout which is significant in places, but overall in good condition, front flyleaf is beginning to separate from the binding.  Bound in eighteenth-century brown leather over pasteboard, back sewn on five thongs, speckled red and brown paint on fore edges, spine label lettered in gilt “VETVS/ ORDO/ ECCLE/ MSS,” good overall condition, covers warped, splitting along the joints near the bottom and with slight loss of leather at the bottom of the spine.  Dimensions 240 x 150 mm.

Twelfth-century manuscripts are now very rare on the market, and manuscripts earlier than that are almost unobtainable.  This manuscript, most likely copied in the Auvergne, today in Central France but then not yet part of the kingdom we call France, is copied in a beautiful, stately Carolingian minuscule, includes Aquitanian diastematic (staffless) musical notation, and compelling red initials.  Of great significance for its text (Pontificals from the eleventh century are few in number), this represents an exceptional opportunity to acquire a complete manuscript dating before the twelfth century.


1. Written in Central France in the middle or third quarter of the eleventh century, c. 1040-1075, for use in a monastery or a local diocese, possibly in the Auvergne.  The manuscript is copied in a good Carolingian minuscule, with numerous early features; both e-caudata (ę) and ‘æ’ are used, there are numerous ligatures (‘st’, ‘ct’, ‘rt’, ‘Nt’), ‘g’ is open at the bottom, ‘pp’ is written separately, and ‘m’ is copied either without finishing strokes, or with a finishing stroke on the last minim only, “et” (and) is abbreviated with an ampersand, which is also used internally.     

Evidence of script, decoration, and later provenance makes an origin in the Auvergne likely, perhaps even at the Abbey of La Chaise-Dieu (Haute-Loire, Brioude), or one of its dependent priories.  It was certainly owned by the Collegiate Church at Saint-Julien of Brioude in the fifteenth century (see below).

The service for the profession of monks and the transition into cenobitic life on ff. 40v-42 (beginning with a ritual interrogation between abbot and monk) was an important text for use in a Benedictine monastery.  Numerous abbots from La Chaise-Dieu also served as bishops. The second abbot of La Chaise-Dieu, Durand (1067-1078), later became bishop of Clermont from 1077 to 1095.  Abbot Pons de Tournon (1094-1102) was bishop of Le Puy (Puy-en-Velay) from 1102 to 1112.  Abbot Aymeric (1102-1111) was bishop of Clermont from 1111 to 1150. 

La Chaise-Dieu was founded in 1043 by Robert Turlande, a canon of the chapter of Saint-Julien de Brioude, diocese of Clermont; the new Abbey was dedicated in 1052.  The Abbey was an important one throughout the Middle Ages; it was suppressed in 1790.  Very few early manuscripts of any type survive from this foundation, and liturgical manuscripts are particularly rare (Huglo, 1977, and 2010, lists only two, one ninth, and the other twelfth century, neither copied at La Chaisse Dieu).

There are some similarities with the minor initials in a checkerboard pattern here (e.g., f. 36v) and initials in an eleventh-century manuscript from Puy-en-Velay (sold at Dorotheum, January, 2015), and with manuscripts copied farther to the South, including at the Benedictine Abbey at Moissac (in particular, the dotted initial on f. 25v with the initials in Chicago, Newberry Library, MS Case 1; and see Dufour, 1972, p. 75).

2. The service for the consecration of a cemetery on f. 32rv was likely added at the end of the eleventh century or early in the twelfth century. This reflects the popularization of rituals for the consecration of cemeteries in the early twelfth century, especially in Burgundy.  This development has been documented in the wake of the year-long travels of Pope Urban II that culminated in the Council of Clermont in 1095.  In addition to Cluny and Clermont, Urban II also visited both Brioude and La Chaise-Dieu (Rosenwein, 1999).  Other additions include the blessing of candles on an inserted folio (f. 6 bis), neumed chant for “Ambulate sancti dei ingredimini …,” in the top margin of ff. 17v-18, and prayers for absolution and other occasions on ff. 44v-45, ff. 45v-46, and ff. 46v-48v.

3. Belonged to the Collegiate Church of Saint-Julien of Brioude (Auvergne) in the fifteenth century.  A statement copied in the fifteenth century in a formal gothic bookhand, beginning with a red initial, on a parchment leaf, folded in quarters, and pasted inside the front board so that the text reads vertically to the main text, says that this manuscript was given to the canons of Saint-Julien in memory of Jean Ardier, preceptor of the canons of St. John of Brioude, in 1474:  “Hunc presentem librum pontificale vocatum dedit ecclesie almi martiris juliani brivatensis pro obitu suo frater iohannes ardierii ordinis sancti iohannis iherusalem preceptor domorum sancti iohannis brivate canoniaci ac sancte anne de la bastide qui prius fuit corarius huius alme ecclesie supra dicte. Anno domini Mo CCCCo LXXIIIIo et die prima mensis may.”  A later hand added on the outside of the leaf in French,”Liure des ceremonies episcopales.”

Jean Ardier was commander of a fortress at Chanonat (Puy-en-Dôme) and was a member of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem (later known as the Knights Hospitaller or Knights of Malta) until his death in 1473/74 (Chassaing, 1888, p. LVII).  A priory at Chanonat is recorded in 1157 as a dependency of the abbey of Port-Dieu, itself dependent on the abbey of La Chaise-Dieu.  The Knights Hospitaller established a command at the priory in the late thirteenth century and later fortified the foundations.

In the twelfth century the collegiate church of Saint-Julien of Brioude held jurisdiction over the Benedictine abbeys of Saint-Germain-Lembron, Saint-Marcellin de Chanteuges, Saint-Julien de Tours and Sainte-Marie de Pébrac.  Of these, the abbey of Saint-Marcellin de Chanteuges and Sainte-Marie de Pébrac were dependencies of La Chaise-Dieu. 

4. Eighteenth-century annotation in black ink on verso of front fly leaf, “Incipit ordo ad ecclesiam consecrandam ex Romano editus a Beato Gregorio” (a transcription of first rubric); eighteenth-century note in French at bottom margin of f. 1, “Ce mss est tout au moins du X. siecle et tres beau voies la table a la fin”; an index to the contents of this volume was copied on the rear fly leaf in the same period, “Index hujus ordinis decimi saltem saeculi,” omitting the prayers on ff. 46-48v.

5. Private Collection, France.


ff. 1-22 [Dedication of a Church], f. 1, Incipit ordo ad ecclesiam consecrandam ex Romano editus a beato Gregorio, incipit, “Ponantur reliquie in feretro composite in altera ęcclesia pridie quam nova…, … deinde pontifex incipiat de sinistro angulo ab oriente scribens per pavimentum cum cambota sua super cineres. A B C D E F G H I.  Canendo antiphonam A. Fundamenta templi huius [with neumes] cum psalmo Fundamenta eius in montibus sanctis [with neumes] …, [f. 20v], Lectio libri apocalipsis iohannis apostoli …; f. 21, Sequitur sancti evangelii secundum lucam ….;

The dedication of a church (including blessing for liturgical implements, furnishings, and vestments); see the dedication of the church in the Sacramentary of Saint-Denis, BnF MS lat. 2290, ff. 140-150v (Deshusses, 1992, vol. 3, no. 452, pp. 200-204; and also Andrieu, Ordines romani, vol. 1, 1931, p. 281, and Andrieu, Le pontifical romain, 1938, vol. I, pp. 176-195); texts on ff. 1v, 2, 8, and 11v include very early musical notation consisting of neumes copied above text (without a staff).

ff. 22-31v, [Blessings], Bened(iccio) de sancta trinitate, incipit, “Omnipotens trinitas unus et uerus deus pater et filius et spiritus sanctus.  det uobis eum desiderare...”; and continuing with blessings for the days of the week (ff. 22-24); the common of saints (ff. 24v-26v), for the dead (f. 27), for the end of a synod (f. 27), for ordinations for ecclesiastical offices: f. 28, Benediccio vestis viduae, …; f. 28v, Benediccio vidue, …; f. 28v, Post hec ponas pallium super caput eius et dicas, …; f. 29, Oratio ad capillaturam, …; f. 29, Oratio ad clericum faciendum, …, 29v, Alia, …; f. 29v, Dum tondis eum dicis antiphonam, …; f. 29v, Oratio post tonsuram, …; f. 30, Alia, …; f. 30, Ad barbas tondendas, …; f. 30v, Oratio post rasam barbam, …; and for going on pilgrimage:  f. 30v, Benediccio ad sportam, “Domine ihesu christe filius dei uiui qui recto incedentes itinere pius es adiutor..”; f. 31, Ad baculum; and concluding, f. 31v, Benediccio de sancta maria, …;

f. 32rv, [added by hand two at the end of the quire] Primitus cum aqua benedicta. episcopus cum suis clericis circumdet totum cimiterivm cum antiphona, Asperges me domine ysopo.  Postea. Miserere mei deus.  Postea letanie de inde dicat pontifex. Dominus vobiscum. Et cum spiritu tuo. Oremus, incipit, “Benedicere digneris omnipotens deus piissime et misericordissime  …  et electis omnibus habere mereantur. Per”; [ends top f. 32v; remainder blank];

Blessing for a cemetery; Andrieu, Le pontifical romain, 1938, vol. I, p. 286.

ff. 33-38v, Reconciliacio loci sacri ubi sanguis fuerit effusus aut homicidium perpetratum. primitus. iii. Aspergat aquam benedictam in circuitu. et inter et dicat has oraciones, incipit, “Dum indultorem criminum deum sordium mundatorem …; … f. 38v, Oratio pro aspersionem aque, …;

The reconciliation of a church after the spilling of blood or a murder (including proper texts for the Mass); Andrieu, Le pontifical romain, 1938, vol. I, p. 64.

ff. 38v-40, [added by hand three], B(enediccio) palmis, incipit, “Omnipotens sempiternę redemptor qui de celis ad terram descendere dignatus est ...”;

Blessing of the Palms; Andrieu, Le pontifical romain, 1938, vol. I, p. 26.

ff. 40-44, incipit, “Conversi quando promittunt regula stant ante altare et interroget eos abba …, [ff. 43v-44], Alia, incipit, “Sanctæ spiritus qui te dominum hac deum revelare mortalibus dignatus es … per eum qui uiuit et regnat per omnia”; [ends incomplete on last line of f. 44];

The profession of a Benedictine monk, lacking title; Andrieu, Le pontifical romain, 1938, I, pp. 295-300, Ordo ad faciendum monachum; see also pp. 174-176. 

ff. 44v-45, [hand four, lacking title, ordo for absolution], incipit “Omnipotens sempiterne deus respicere dignare de altissimo regna tui solio... quod ipse patres”; [ends incomplete on f. 45, line three, with most of the remaining folio blank; text may have been erased; Deshusses, no. 357];

ff. 45v-46, [hand five, lacking title, ordo for confirmation], incipit, “Omnipotens sempiterne deus qui regenerare dignatus…” [Andrieu, Le pontifical romain, 1938, I, p. 247; Deshusses, no. 376];

ff. 46-47, [hand six, added prayers for absolution beginning on line 11, lacking title], incipit, “Dominus ihesus christus qui dixit discipulis suis...” [Andrieu, Le pontifical romain, 1938, vol. II, p. 493]; f. 46v, incipit, “In ea auctoritate et potestate confidentes qua deus omnipotens in beato petro apostolorum principem tribuit dicens …” [Martène, 1737, IV, ch. XVII, ordo X, col. 153]; f. 46v, incipit, “Vice sancti petri apostolorum principis cui a domino collata et potestas ligandi atque solvendi cuius …  ominium peccatoru tuorum.  Quicum//“ [ends incomplete on f. 47, leaving majority of the parchment blank, but with traces that might be erasures visible; Martène, 1737, IV, ch. XVII, ordo X, col. 153];

ff. 47v-48v, [hand six, incomplete service for the consecration of a church, in the same hand as the blessing of candles, f. 6bis], f. 47v, [beginning imperfectly], incipit, “//Fide catholica perseverent ...” [Andrieu, Le pontifical romain, I, 1938, p. 184]; f. 47v, [lacks title], incipit, “Vere dignum et iustum est aeternae deus. Adesto precibus nostris... “ [Andrieu, Le pontifical romain, I, p. 184]; f. 48v, incipit, “Vere dignum et iustum est aeternae deus. Ut propensiori cura et attenciori famulatu tibi servitutis officia ... ad qui ramus sempiternam. Per.” [Andrieu, Le pontifical romain, 1938, I, p. 191].


f. 10v, initial ‘O’ with octopartite roundel, alternating lobes colored in red ink (similar initials and roundel decoration are found in ninth-century manuscripts, such as the Gellone Sacramentary, Paris, BnF, MS lat. 12048, f. 226v; and roundel decorations, in the Autun Sacramentary, Berlin, Staatsbibl. Phillips 105, f. 98, suggesting that this manuscript, or at least the dedication of the church, could have been copied from a Carolingian exemplar). 

ff. 2v, 11v, 18v, 23, 28, 33, 35, 35v, 36, 38, initials with penwork foliate tail; f. 16, and on many others, initials dotted with red ink.

A Pontifical is the liturgical book that includes the ceremonies reserved specially for a Bishop.  The earliest Pontificals date from the tenth century, and the manuscript described here is thus an early example of the genre, of considerable interest to scholars studying the liturgy.

The evolution of the Pontifical was a long and gradual process.  Very early on the book for the celebrant (whether a bishop or a priest) was the Sacramentary, which could include, in addition to Mass prayers, prayers for the other sacraments and rites such as the dedication of a church, blessings, and other texts.  These prayers were supplemented in the seventh and eighth centuries by small booklets which described in detail how various liturgical rites were to be celebrated; they were mostly Frankish in origin, but since they usually claimed to reflect the liturgical customs of Rome, they are known as the Ordines Romani (edited Andrieu, 1931-1974).  In the mid-tenth century, someone, perhaps a monk in Mainz, combined the liturgical directions found in the Ordines and the prayers from Sacramentaries, resulting in the earliest Romano-Germanic Pontifical, a large collection of the liturgical directions and necessary prayers for episcopal rites, blessings, as well as numerous monastic prayers and offices, and even didactic treatises (ed. Vogel and Elze, 1963).  The Romano-Germanic Pontificals were the direct ancestor of the Roman Pontificals of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, which were in general better organized, and increasingly included only the texts relevant to bishops, and these Pontificals were in turn related to the Pontifical compiled (c. 1293-1295) by William Durand, bishop of Mende (ed. Andrieu, 1938-1941), and ultimately the first printed edition by Agostino Patrizi de Piccolomini and Johannes Burkhard (Rome 1485).

Despite the importance of the Romano-Germanic textual tradition for the text of later Roman Pontificals, many tenth and eleventh century manuscripts represent independent, local traditions.  Although further study is needed, it is almost certainly the case that the manuscript described here reflects a local tradition.  It includes six quires that roughly divide the prayers into two sections (quires 1-4, through f. 32v, and quires 5-6).  This division perhaps reflects the development of so-called “Primitive” Pontificals that developed from small books (libelli) with discursive selections of prayers for specific uses.  This format exists in parallel to the more structured examples of the Romano-Germanic Pontifical that were still new in France in the mid-eleventh century (Rasmussen, 1998; Palazzo, 1998; Hamilton, 2002).  In the eleventh and twelfth centuries Pontifical were not infrequently copied in monasteries.  Monasteries in this period were often the source of liturgical texts and frequently created copies for the diocese with which they were affiliated.

The service for the dedication of a church, ff. 1-22, follows the model of the Gregorian Sacramentary, a widely disseminated book of the Roman rite used throughout the Carolingian empire and attributed to Pope Gregory I (ed. Deshusses, 1992).  The content of the following sections of this Pontifical, but not the structure, or the order of the texts, are related to the so-called “Roman Pontifical of the twelfth-century” (ed. Andrieu, vol. I, 1938). 

Pontificals were never as common as Missals and Breviaries, and early manuscripts such as this one are very rare indeed.  They include not only the text of the prayers, and often music, but also complete liturgical directions or rubrics (since they are often written in red), instructions that tell the participants how to perform the liturgy correctly.  This combination of preserving both liturgical texts and very complete descriptions of the liturgical ceremonies makes them an invaluable source for liturgical historians.


Andrieu, Michel.  Les ordines romani du haut moyen âge, vol. 1: Les manuscrits, Spicilegium sacrum Lovaniense: Études et documents, fasc. 11, 23, 24, 28, 29 (Louvain, 1931, 1948, 1951, 1956, 1961; rpt. 1965, 1971, 1974).

Andrieu, Michel.  Le Pontifical romain au moyen-âge: vol. 1: Le Pontifical romain du XIIe siècle, Studi e testi 86, vol. 2: Le Pontifical de la curie romain au XIIIe siècle, Studi e testi 87; vol. 3: Le Pontifical de Guillaume Durand, Studi e testi 88; vol. 4: Tables alphabétiques, Studi e testi, 99 Vatican City, 1938; 1940, 1941.

Chassaing, Augustin.  Cartulaire des Hospitaliers (Ordre de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem) du Velay, Paris, 1888.

Deshusses, Jean.  Le sacramentaire grégorien, ses principales formes d'après les plus anciens manuscrits, Fribourg, 1992.

Dufour, Jean. La bibliothèque et le scriptorium de Moissac, Geneva, Paris, 1972.

Gaussin, Pierre-Roger.  L'abbaye de la Chaise-Dieu (1043-1518), Paris, 1962.

Hamilton, Sarah.  The Practice of Penance, 900-1050, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2002.

Huglo, Michel. “Les livres liturgiques de la Chaise-Dieu,” Revue Bénédictine 87 (1977), pp. 289-348.

Huglo, Michel, and Barbara Haggh.  “L'office de saint Julien de Brioude,” in Brioude aux temps carolingiens: Actes du colloque international organisé par la ville de Brioude, 13-15 septembre 2007, Le Puy-en-Velay, 2010, pp. 413-414.

Kay, Richard.  Pontificalia: A Repertory of Latin Manuscript Pontificals and Benedictionals. Lawrence, Kansas, 2009.

Martène, Edmond.  De antiquis ecclesiae ritibus editio secunda, Milan, 1737.

Leroquais, V.  Les Pontificaux manuscripts des bibliothèques publiques de France, Paris, 1937.

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

Rasmussen, N.-K.  Les Pontificaux du Haut Moyen Âge: Genèse du livre de l'éveque, texte mis au point par Marcel Haverals, Spicilegium Sacrum Lovaniense, Etudes et documents 49, Louvain, 1998.

Rosenwein, Barbara.  Negotiating Space: Power, Restraint, and Privileges of Immunity in Early Medieval Europe, Ithaca, NY, 1999.

Vogel, Cyrille, and Reinhard Elze.  Le Pontifical Romano-Germanique du Dixieme Siècle, Studi e Testi 227, Vatican City, 1963.

Online Resources

PRG Database: A tool for navigating Le Pontifical Romano-Germanique

Richard Kay, Pontificalia, KU-Scholar Works

Abbey of la Chaise-Dieu

Gellone Sacramentary, Paris, BnF, MS lat. 12048

Sacramentary of Saint-Denis, Paris, BnF, MS lat 2290

TM 83