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les Enluminures

Processional (Dominican use)

In Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on parchment
France (Rouen), c. 1520-1530; c. 1525-1550; 1674

TM 1031

i (paper) + iv (four added leaves, parchment) + 67 folios on parchment, page numbers added in the 17th-century, 1-132, followed by an unnumbered leaf, complete (collation a4 [added unnumbered leaves] i8 ii2[+1, pp. 21-22, a singleton, after 2] iii8+3[-7, with a bifolium and a single leaf, pp. 35-40, added after 6] iv2 v-vi4 vii2 [1, pp. 63-64, single, glued to an added singleton, pp. 65-66] viii8 ix6[pp. 83-94, added] x-xiv4 [pp. 95-[134], added), written in black ink in a gothic bookhand on nine long lines with nine lines of music with square notation on four-line red staves on most pages (justification 193-174 x 110-108 mm.), red rubrics, capitals touched in yellow, original leaves with two-line black calligraphic initials with yellow wash, two-line brushed gold initials on alternating grounds of brick red or blue, two-line monochrome modelled gray/violet initials on liquid gold ground, usually infilled with flower sprigs, TWELVE LARGE HISTORIATED INITIALS, initials are elaborately shaped and colored in liquid gold, against grounds of red and blue, the biblical scenes in full color and highlighted with liquid gold, TWO FULL-PAGE ILLUMINATED BORDERS, one with Renaissance architectural forms and the other containing the standing figures of saints between flower sprays against a liquid gold ground, later, remodeled leaves (parts of pp. 19-22, 35-40, 65-67, and all of pp. 83-134) of similar format (text-only pages with up to twenty-eight long lines) with two-line red initials, borders, pp. 1 and 41, slightly trimmed and rubbed, historiated initials, pp. 1, 73, and 78, rubbed, pp. 19 and 77 were updated by pasting the original text on a new leaf, sixteenth- or seventeenth-century dark brown leather binding, blind tooled with simple panels back and front with gilt ornaments at the corners, rounded spine with five raised bands, elaborately decorated in gilt, red leather spine label, “Procession/ avec/ miniature,” possibly rebacked or repaired with the spine laid down, marbled pastedowns, covers slightly scuffed, wear along bands, but in excellent condition.  Dimensions 225 x 158 mm.


Made for the Dominican nuns of the royal convent of St. Matthew in Rouen, this Processional is a fine example of the skill of the artists working during the last flowering of medieval manuscript illumination in northern France.  Larger and certainly more lavishly illuminated than most surviving Processionals, it is a valuable witness to the liturgy and music at this convent.  Extensive revisions by the nuns themselves make this a multi-layered artifact that will repay further study.


1. The style of the script and illumination establishes that this was made in Rouen c. 1520-1530.  The contents follow the Dominican liturgy (Huglo, 1999, tableau VII, pp. 52-53*), and in particular that of the Dominican nuns at the royal monastery of St. Mathew of Rouen (where it was still in 1674).  The texts for the dedication of a church, and parts of the texts for the washing of altar of St. Marcoul, St. Louis of France, and St. Matthew were copied by the original scribe, all proper to this convent.  It seems likely that this Processional was made by professional scribes and artists in Rouen. 

In 1261, the convent of Dominican friars in Rouen in the manor of Saint-Matthew, faubourg Saint-Sever, were replaced by the Dominican nuns of St. Matthew (later known as the Emmurées, or “emmured” sisters); their charter dates from 1269.  Both foundations enjoyed the patronage of the king of France, St. Louis (1214-1270).  After the death of St. Louis, the convent acquired a bone of his hand as a relic.  The foundation had a tumultuous history; it was ruined during the siege of Rouen by Henry V of England in 1418, and then rebuilt in 1479.  In the sixteenth century it was destroyed during the religious wars in 1562 and 1591, and rebuilt again in 1666, only to be suppressed during the French revolution in 1797.

2. Not long after it was acquired (c. 1525-1550), it was customized, perhaps by the nuns themselves, by rewriting several rubrics and adding numerous leaves.  Some of the original leaves were even removed, trimmed, and then pasted down on the new pages (pp. 19 and 77).  Among the texts added at the end of the volume are processions for Saints Roch and Adrian, both observed at St. Matthew.

3. It was still owned by the nuns of St. Matthew in 1674, when the first four folios were added, including a title page that identifies the manuscript as a Dominican Processional “Pour le Chantre du Royal Monastere de S. Mathieu dit les Emmurées ... Rouen. 1674.”  Page numbers were also added at this time, as well as short additions to the text and rubrics (often translating the Latin), see for example pp. 32-34.

4. The top of p. 78 is now blank, but traces of glue remain that suggest that a small print or other object was once inserted there.

5. Belonged to M. Ribard, rue Morand, of Rouen, probably Jacques Paul Vincent Adrien Ribard (1728-1813); his label inside the front cover.

6. Belonged to Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872); his label “4393” appears on the spine and his inscription “4393,” verso of the first flyleaf.  Phillipps was an English antiquary and book collector renowned for having amassed the largest nineteenth-century collection of manuscripts.  Fittingly self-described as a “vello-maniac,” he collected over 100,000 manuscripts and in doing so nearly bankrupted himself and his family.  The present manuscript was purchased by Phillipps from Royez, Paris (pencil notes, front paper flyleaf, f. i verso).

7. Deposited as Loan MS 36/18 with the British Museum; sold on behalf of the family, heirs of Sir Thomas Phillipps.


ff. i-iv verso, added in 1674: [f. i, blank]; ff. ii, [title page], incipit, “Processional a l’usage de lordre sacré des ff. prescheurs.  Pour la Chantre du Royal Monastere de S. Mathieu dit les Emmurées, du mesme Ordre.  Les Roüen. 1674”; f. ii verso-iv, Rubrique des Processions, incipit, “En l’Ordre des ff. Prescheurs on ne fait que six Processions ... ; En la Purification de N. Dame, incipit, “Apres la Benediction des Chandelles ... ”; Au dimanche des Rameaux, incipit, “On fait la mesme chose …”; 

ff. iv verso, table of contents;

Listing the contents in French, followed by the page number; this same hand added page numbers in the top outer corner of the following leaves.

pp. 1-7, incipit, “Lumen ad reuelationem …”; incipit, “Ave gratia plena …”; incipit, “Adorna thalamum …”; incipit, “Responsum accepit simeon …”; “Hodie beata virgo …”; [concludes with a prayer], Oratio, incipit, “Erudi quesumus domine plebem …”;

Procession for the feast of the Purification of the Virgin.

pp. 7-17, [rubric possibly added], Au dimanche des rameaux …, incipit, “Pueri hebreorum …”; … “Collegerunt pontifices …”; “Ave rex noster fili dei …”; “Gloria laus et honor …”;, “Ingrediente domino …”;

Procession for Palm Sunday.

pp. 18-21, Au Jeudy saint en la messe apres auoir chante … puis le preste retourne acheuer la messe, incipit, “In monte oliueti …; [p. 19, rubric an early addition], Pendant quon chante ce Respons … apres la reprise du Respons on chante lantiene de S. Mathieu patron de cette eglise, incipit, O beate Mathee … ; [p. 20, original scribe], A l’Autel de S. Marcoul. Respons, incipit, Circum dederunt me … ;

Washing of the Altars on Holy Thursday mentioning the grand altar dedicated to St. Matthew, patron of the church, and St. Marcoul; rubrics, pp. 18 and 19 were rewritten by the second scribe; pp. 19-20, is a new inserted folio, with text by this second scribe, but also re-using the original leaf (cut down in size, and pasted onto the new leaf).

pp. 21-32, Apres cet office on vat au Chapitre … la prieure … ua a la sacristie pendant que les seurs se disposent au lauer .., incipit, “Dominus iesus postquam cenauit …,

Holy Thursday Mandatum, or foot-washing; the text here generally with the text of the Dominican Processional (Huglo, 1999, tableau vii, p. *52); liturgical directions (in the second hand) mention the prioress and sisters.

pp. 33-40, Au Uendredi saint pour l’adoration la [crosse] …, [added] Les Religieuses se tiennent debout le visage vers l’autel, incipit, incipit, “Popule meus …, “Agyos otheos …”;

Adoration of the Cross on Good Friday; pp. 35-40 are added folios copied by the second scribe.

pp. 40-44, Au S. Jour de Pasques, Et les deux suiuans apres …, incipit, “Christus resurgens …”;

Procession for Easter Sunday; prayers in the original hand use the masculine gender.

pp. 44-49, In die ascensionis domini.  Ad processionem …;

Procession for the feast of the Ascension.

pp. 49-54, In festo corporis christi.  Ad processionem …; [concluding], In adoratione corporis chrsti, incipit, “Ave verum …”;

For Corpus Christi; text was erased at the bottom of p. 54, and possibly in the top half of p. 55, now blank.

pp. 55-60, In dedicatione ecclesie. Ad processionem …;

For the Dedication of a church (proper to St. Matthew in Rouen, and in original hand).

pp. 60-66, In festo sancti dominici.  Ad processionem …; [concluding with prayer in hand two], Oremus, incipit, “Deus qui ecclesiam tuam beati dominici …”;

For St. Dominic; texts on pp. 65-66 are in the second hand; top of p. 67, now blank, may have been (thoroughly) erased.

pp. 67-73, En la feste de l’Assomption de la tres sainte vierge marie, …;

pp. 73-77, De sancto ludouico.  Ad processionem, ….;

For St. Louis; text on p. 77, copied by the first scribe, was pasted onto a new parchment leaf; lower margin p. 77 and top of p. 78 are blank (with traces of erased script visible).

pp. 78-83, En la feste de St. Mathieu apostre et Euangeliste …;

For St. Matthew (rubric in hand two, but text through p. 82 in hand one).

pp. 83-132, all copied by the second scribe:

pp. 83-88, En la commemoration des fidelles trespasses, …; [All Souls]; p. 89, En la feste de S. Adrian martyr, …; [St. Adrian]; p. 93, En la feste de St. Roch confesseur, … [St. Roch];

pp. 97-105, En loffice de receuoir une religieuse a profession ou de  luy donne le voyle, …;

Offices for taking the veil (for entry into the Convent, for nuns).

pp. 105-111, For the burial of the dead;

pp. 112-130, Office of the Dead, Dominican Use.

pp. 131-132, Antiphon of Saint Barbara;

pp. 133-134, [added later (not included in the 1674 table of contents, s. xviii?], Chants in honor of the Virgin.


The subjects of the twelve historiated initials are as follows:

p. 1, the Presentation in the Temple, surrounded by a full-page gold architectural Renaissance border;

p. 7, the Entry into Jerusalem;

p. 18, the Agony in the Garden;

p. 22, Christ washing Peter’s feet;

p. 41, the Resurrection with a full-page scatter border with small figures including: a Bishop, St. Dominic, the Virgin Mary, three smaller ecclesiastical figures, top margin, trimmed, a saint with book and staff, Anne teaching the Virgin to read; St. Dominic again; St. Francis, St. Roche, and St. Martin;

p. 44, the Transfiguration;

p. 49, the Parable of the Great Banquet (Luke 14:15-24), showing a richly dressed man alongside a banquet table, set for dinner, sending his servant out to invite people (we thank Roger Wieck for his assistance in identifying this unusual iconography);

p. 55, the Dedication of a Church (Bishop asperging);

p. 61, Saint Dominic;

p. 67, the Assumption;

p. 73, Saint Louis;

p. 77, an Apostle.

These initials are similar in style to the works attributed to the Master of Girard Acarie.  This master is named for the royal secretary and official in Normandy, Girard Acarie (d. 1557), for whom he illuminated several lavish manuscripts, including a Roman de la Rose designed for presentation to François I (1494-1547), New York, Morgan Library and Museum, M.948, around 1525 (Friesen, 1993).  Along with the Master of the Ango Hours, with whom he sometimes collaborated, the Master of Girard Acarie worked during the last years of the manuscript trade in Rouen, which enjoyed the patronage of eminent figures including Cardinal d’Amboise, Louise of Savoy, and other members of the court of François I. 

The initials in this manuscript are in general smaller and more modest than those attributed to the Master of Girard Acarie himself, but they were almost certainly done by an artist working in his circle.  For example, in the figure of Christ in the initial on p. 41, the master’s characteristic muscularity and twisted pose are evident; in the border on that same page, the volume of the draperies in the depiction of St. Anne is notable.  Generally, the initials here share the Master’s palate, with rose, blue, red-gray, and gold predominating.  The composition of the Entry into Jerusalem is almost identical to that found in the scene in Paris, BnF, MS Smith-Leoüef 39, although much simplified in our manuscript (Orth, 2016, cat. 72). One can also point to similarities between the depiction of the Agony in the Garden in our manuscript (p. 18), with the same scene in New York, Morgan Library, MS M.0147, illuminated c. 1530 by an artist working in the circle of the Master of Girard Acarie; compare especially the similar large rocky cliffs, and a figure in the foreground resting his head on his hands.

Processionals include the texts and chants necessary for liturgical processions.  As is the case here, many Dominican Processionals also include the liturgy for Death and Burial (Huglo, 1999 and 2004).  They are of special interest to musicologists, since they sometimes include texts and music not found in other liturgical manuscripts. 

Each person within a religious order (friars, monks, or nuns) had his or her own Processional, usually rather small books.  This Processional is somewhat larger and is certainly more grandly illuminated than many surviving examples.  Although Processionals were books used by both men and women religious, many of the surviving examples, particularly those with illumination, were made for nuns.  Perhaps the most famous group of illuminated Processionals are those from Poissy, which presents interesting parallels with St. Matthew’s of Rouen, since it was also a royal foundation for Dominican nuns. 


Baudry, Paul. “Le monastère des Emmurés,” Revue de Rouen, 1848, pp. 545-560.

Friesen, Margareta. Der Rosenroman für François I. New York, Pierpont Morgan Library M. 948, Graz, 1993 [full facsimile edition].

Gy, P. M. “Collectaire, rituel, processional,” Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques 44 (1960), pp. 441-69.

Huglo, M. Les livres de chant liturgique, Typologie des sources du moyen âge occidental 52, Turnhout, 1988.

Huglo, M. Les manuscrits du Processional, Volume I, Autriche à Espagne, Répertoire international des sources musicales B XIV (1), Munich, 1999.

Huglo, M. Les manuscrits du Processional, Volume II, France à Afrique du Sud, Répertoire international des sources musicales B XIV (2), Munich, 2004.

Huglo, Michel. “Processional,” in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie, London, 2001, vol. 20, pp. 388-393.

Naughton, Joan. “Books for a Dominican Nuns’ Choir:  Illustrated Liturgical Manuscripts at Saint-Louis de Poissy, c.1330-1350,” in The Art of the Book.  Its Place in Medieval Worship, eds. Margaret Manion and Bernard Muir, Exeter, 1998, pp. 67-109.

Orth, Myra.  Renaissance Manuscripts: The Sixteenth Century, Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in France, London, 2016.

Online Resources

Jean Luc Deuffic, “Un processionnal des dominicaines du monastère des Emmurées de Saint-Mathieu de Rouen,” February 9, 2008, Le manuscrit médiéval (blog)

History of the Emmurés

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

General introduction to liturgical processions; (New Catholic Encyclopedia, “Processions”)

TM 1031