TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

SAINT AUGUSTINE, Enchiridion; BONAVENTURA, Lignum Vitae and Breviloquium, and hymns

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
[Italy, 1275-1300]

TM 42

156 leaves, complete, in gatherings of 12 (1-1312), preceded and followed by an original flyleaf, each conjoint with the pastedown, catchwords, prickings survive on most leaves, written in a small early gothic script by two main scribes on 24 long lines of text ruled in lead point (justification c. 85 x 60 mm.), catchwords, headings in red, capitals stroked in red, music on pinkyellow and red staves, paraphs alternately in blue or red, two-line initials throughout, in red with blue penwork flourishing extending up and down the margin, or vice versa, larger initials on fols. 1r and 61r, the leaves with some natural flaws and some wear, the final leaf creased and smudged, but generally in very good condition throughout. CONTEMPORARY BINDING OF WHITTAWED LEATHER OVER WOOD BOARDS, the edges of the boards gently curved, the covering originally stained pink, now faded to creamy brown, remains of a strap-and-pin fastening, with a trace of red textile strap at the fore-edge of the upper cover, and a corresponding rust-stained pin-hole in the center of the lower cover, with ENDLEAVES FROM AN ELEVENTH-CENTURY MANUSCRIPT, preserving much of a multi-colored interlace initial, the original color faded, both covers somewhat worn, and some losses of the spine covering (revealing the original sewing), otherwise in good unrestored condition, in a fitted velvet box. Dimensions c. 110 x 90 mm.

Intact manuscript in original excellent condition, with contemporary pastedowns and a very rare contemporary binding, its portable size conforming with Augustine's description of his book as "something to carry around," and including early versions of various hymns and music, one in praise of Saint Francis.


1. Written doubtless for personal use, possibly for a Franciscan, perhaps in a major book-producing center in Italy, where a fine decorated eleventh century manuscript of saints' lives might be discarded for use as binder's waste.

2. Heribert Tenschert, Leuchtendes Mittlealter II, 1990, no. 11.

3. J. R. Ritman, Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, Amsterdam (A Second Selection of Illuminated Manuscripts from c. 1000 to c. 1522, London, Sotheby's, 19 June 2001, lot 11).

4. Private Collection.


ff. 1-2v, Index of chapters for Augustine's Enchiridion; rubric: Incipit capitula sancti Agustini [sic] episcopi liber Enchiridion;

ff. 2v-41, Saint Augustine, Enchiridion on faith, hope, and charity, preceded (fols. 1r-2v) by a numbered chapter list; incipit: "Dici non potest, dilectissime fili Laurenti, quantum tua eruditione delecter…"; explicit in red: "Explicit liber Enchiridion beati Agustini ad Laurentii…de fide, spe, caritate. Deo gratias. Amen"; Incunable edition: Cologne, Ulrich Zell, circa 1467 (Catalogue des incunables de la B.N., A-706; Goff A-1265). The CNRS database (In Principio) records 59 manuscripts, 19 of which begin with the above-mentioned incipit.

f. 41v, Single leaf with unidentified text: "Qui per viam pergitis hic mecum…"; "Videre spectaculum in cruce pendentis…"; [ending] "…Fili dulcor unice, fili dulcor" [Probably parchment used for its blank recto side];

ff. 42v-59v, Saint Bonaventura, De Ligno vitae; rubric: Incipit liber de ligno vite a fratre Bonauentura ordinis fratrum minorum editus; incipit: "Christo confixus sum cruci verus Dei cultor Christique discipulos…"; explicit: "…per infinita et secula seculorum. Amen. Amen. Amen"; explicit in red: "Explicit liber de ligno vite"; Bonaventura's Tree of Life, a series of 48 devout meditations on the Life of Christ; Incunable edition: Cologne, [Bartholomaeus von Unckel], 1484; (Catalogue des incunables de la B.N.F., B-613; Goff, B-924). The database of the CNRS (In Principio) records 25 manuscripts;

ff. 59v-60v, Saint Bonaventura, Hymn "O Crux frutex"; rubric: Incipit sequentia super eundem ... a fratre Bonaventura; incipit: "O crux frutex saluificus / uiuo fonte rigatus./ Quem flos exornat / Fructus fecundat gratus" ; A hymn with music, which survives in various versions, usually unattributed, but here correctly ascribed in the rubric to Bonaventura (Dreves, Analecta hymnica Medii Aevi, 50, 1907, pp. 561-562; Chevalier, 1897, n° 12849);

ff. 61-151, Saint Bonaventura, Breviloquium; rubric: Incipit Breviloquium fratris Bonaventure; incipit: "Flecto genua mea ad patrem Domini nostri Ihesu Christi ex quo omnis paternitas in celo…"; explicit: "…in gaudium Dei mei. Qui est…Deus benedictus in secula seculorum. Amen"; Incunable edition: Nuremberg, [Johann Sensenschmidt], 1472 (Catalogue des incunables de la B.N.F., B-618; Goff, B-855);

ff. 151-155v, Two hymns to Saint Francis and to the Virgin: "Eximie pater egregie rector ..." (Chevalier, I, n° 5673) and "Virgo predentissima mater integerrima regale triclinum..." (Ibid., n° 34639).

The Enchiridion was written in response to a request from a certain Laurence, mentioned in the rubric, who remains unidentified: he asked Augustine to provide him with a handbook of Christian doctrine, containing brief answers to various questions, and Augustine responded by writing the Enchiridion. In the opening paragraphs Augustine explains its purpose and the reason for its small size: "It is your desire, as you wrote, to have from me a book, a sort of enchiridion, as it might be called–something to have at hand–that deals with your questions ... something you could carry around–not just baggage for your bookshelf." The text is translated by Ernest Evans (London, 1953), and edited by him in CCSL, 46, 1969.

Bonaventura's Breviloquium, written before 1257, is to some extent a summary of his Commentary on the Sentences, his greatest work. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes it as "the quintessence of the theology of the time ... the most sublime compendium of dogma in our possession".

The flyleaves and pastedowns appear to be from an eleventh-century copy of saints' lives: the one surviving rubric appears to be "[E]xplicit prologus. Incipit passi[o]» followed by «[Io]hannes igitur qui [...]."


Saint Augustine, Enchiridion, ed. Ernest Evans, in Corpus Christianorum (46, 1969);

Saint Augustine's Enchiridion or Manual to Laurentius Concerning Faith, Hope, and Charity. Translated from the Benedictine Text with an Introduction and Notes by Ernest Evans. London,1953.

Chevalier, Ulysse. Repertorium hymnologicum. Catalogue des chants, hymnes, proses…en usage dans l'église latine depuis les origines jusqu'à nos jours, vol. II, Louvain, 1897.

Dreves, G.M. Hymnographi latini. Lateinische Hymnendichter des Mittelalters, in Analecta hymnica medii aevi, vol. 50, Leipzig, 1907, pp. 559-560.

Migne, PL 40, 181-196.

Reaney, G. Manuscripts of Polyphonic Music, 11-14th c., M√ľnchen-Duisberg, 1966 (Répertoire International des sources musicales).

Online resources

On Franciscan preaching and authors

Translation of Saint Augustine's Enchiridion by Albert C. Outler

Enchiridion in Latin