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les Enluminures

THOMAS BRITO [PSEUDO-THOMAS DE LISLE], Sermones de tempore de epistolis et evangeliis, Sermones de Communi Sanctorum

In Latin, manuscript on parchment
[perhaps Northern France, c. 1250-1300]

TM 65

299 leaves, complete (in 31 quires, mostly of 10 leaves, except v8, xiii12, and xxxi10-1, x canceled), some catchwords, quires numbered in Roman, i-xx, in the lower center margins, written in black ink in a neat Gothic bookhand, on 26 long lines, lightly ruled in brown ink, traces of prickings in the outer margins (justification 105 x 75 mm.), rubrics and paragraph marks in red, sidenotes underlined in red, large 4-line puzzle initial in red and blue, with red and blue calligraphic penwork, 2-line initials in alternating red and blue with alternating blue and red calligraphic penwork, 1-line initials in red with blue calligraphic penwork, text block somewhat cropped, occasionally affecting side notes, some contemporary parchment repairs, a few more recent repairs, slight soiling and signs of use, else in excellent condition. Bound in seventeenth-century red morocco gilt, spine in 6 compartments, gilt floral ornament, title gilt MANUSCRIPTUM SUPER EVANGEL, edges gilt. Dimensions 135 x 105 mm.

One of only 20-some manuscripts of the little known sermons by Thomas Brito (Thomas le Breton), a thirteenth-century Franciscan writer, in a clean neatly written copy, including the sermons for both the Temporal and Sanctoral and close to the presumed date of their composition. The present manuscript offers significant variants with others in the group, which has never had a critical edition.


1. Likely written in France, c. 1250-1300, judging from the script and decoration.

2. “J Nielle,” his annotation, f. 298v, in a late-sixteenth or seventeenth-century [French?] hand.

3. Reverend John Cohen Jackson, his sale, London, Sotheby’s, 13 December 1895, his signature on f. 1 and on the paper flyleaf: “Sum. Joh. C. Jackson 1850.”


ff. 1-97v, Thomas Brito, Sermones de tempore de Epistolis, de Sanctis, rubric, Dominica prima in adventu sermo primus (1); incipit, “Abitiamus opera tenebrarum…[Rom 13: 12]. Scriptum est eium ad Hebr. .iiii. [Hebr. 4:16] Adeamus cum fiducia ad tronum… “; explicit, “…sic in die etc. Rogemus ergo etc.” (Schneyer, V, p. 632, no. 1 / T 1) […] [Rubric] In Adventu sermo .liii. (53); incipit, “Videbit omnis caro salutare dei [Luke 3: 6] Cum sponsus diligens et dilectus peregre profectus est … “; explicit, “… vos perduceat Ihesus Christo Amen.” (Schneyer, V, p. 639, no. 117 / T 65, wrongly ascribed to Thomas of Lisle; see discussion below);

ff. 97v-98v, Added sermon, incipit, “[C]um natus esset Ihesus etc. Nota quatuor tempus quando magi venerunt… “; explicit, “…prostante Domino nostro Ihesu Christo” [Anonymous ? Not recorded in Schneyer, X ; Schneyer records Cum natus esset… / Nota hic tria, scilicet Magorum (Schneyer, VI, p. 698)].

ff. 98v-116, Thomas de Lisle, Sermones de Communi sanctorum, rubric, De uno apostolo sermo .liiii. (54) ; incipit, “Ambula coram me et esto…Gn .xviii. In hiis verbis quae de beato…”; explicit, “…cum venerit quod perfectum…quod ex parte est quod nobis p. d. etc.” (Schneyer, V, p. 663, no. 506 / C 2); rubric, De virginibus sermo .lxii.; incipit, “Que parate erant…-Istud verbus dicitur contra pigros quos Dominus invitavit ad festum suum”; explicit, “…non habet taedium convictus illius” (Schneyer, V, p. 668, no. 577 / C 9).

ff. 116v-118v, Index to the Sermons on the Epistles and Saints; rubric, Incipit registrum de precentibus sermonibus de epitolis et de sanctis.

ff. 118v-120v, Index of the Sermons on the Gospels, letters A to T [ends on fol. 229v]; rubric, Incipit registrum sequentis operis super sermonum evangeliis;

ff. 120v-225, Thomas Brito, Sermones de tempore de Evangeliis, rubric, Incipiunt sermones de evangeliis; incipit, “Ecce rex tuus venit [Matt. 21 :5]. Scriptum est Prov .xx. Misericordia et veritas custodiunt regem… “; explicit, “ut vitam habeant et habeant.” (Schneyer, V, p. 632, no. 2 / T 1); rubric, Dominica .xxiiii. (24), sermo .lv. (55); incipit, “Cognita Ihesus eorum nequitia [Matt. 22 : 18]. Isti Deum tentantes… “; explicit “ …fallaciam hypocritorum contemnat” (Schneyer, V, p. 638–639, no. 112 / T 62); rubric, Dominica .xxv. sermo .lvi. (56); incipit, “Est puer unus hic qui habet .v. panes… “; explicit, “ …spiritum sancto vivit et regnat Deus per omnia secula.” [Not recorded in Schneyer, V].

f. 225, Thomas Brito, Sermones de tempore, rubric, Expliciunt sermones de evangeliis. Ad religio sermo .lvvii. (57) ; incipit, “Preparate corda vestra Domino – Corda dicit, non corpora… ; [Explicit] … ut placeant cora deo etc.” (Schneyer, V, p. 636, no. 68 / T 40 ( ?): same incipit; different explicit).

f. 229v, Index of the Sermons on the Gospels, letters V-X.

ff. 230–230v, Index of the Sermons on the Saints, rubric, Incipit registrum in sermones de sanctis;

ff. 231-284v, Thomas Brito, Sermones de Communi sanctorum, rubric, Incipiunt sermones de sanctis sermo de uno apostolo sermo primus; incipit, “Precinxisti me virtute ad bellum. Mos est iste nobilium … ; explicit, “… sublimitas et profundum quod nobis etc.” (Schneyer, V, p. 636, no. 501 / C 2); rubric, In consecratione virginis sermo .xxvii ; incipit, “Querantur Domino nostro regi puelle virgines – Vox ista vox est”; explicit, “… pepercit omnia speciosa Jacob” (Schneyer, V, p. 669, no. 596 / after C 14).

ff. 285-298, rubric, De bona meditatione; incipit, “Frater quidam interrogavit abbatem Anthonium dicens. Dic mihi aliquid verbum quod possit…. “

f. 298, incipit “[V]enit filius hominis querere et sal[vatoris] facere…- Ex verbis istis in tribus…”; explicit, “ …sed usque septuagies septies. Rogemus ergo etc. (Schneyer XI, p. 418 refers back to the following incipit: “Venit ergo filius…-Ex verbis istis in tribus”; see Schneyer, IX, p. 626, no. 20: Sermones anonymi, MS. Trier, Stadtbibl. 246 / 1704 [XIV saec.]).

f. 298v, Added annotation: “J Nielle” and beneath “Quarantus ano nostro regi virgines ac speciose Esther […] …Veni sponsa […].”

Schneyer wrongly ascribed these sermons to Thomas de Lisle, a Dominican preacher and English churchman who became a monk at Winchester and served as Bishop of Ely from 1345 until his death in 1361 (vol. 5, p. 632-42). However, Wadding (1906, no. 649a) and Kaeppeli (vol. 4, 1993, pp. 369-70, nos. 3812: Ps. Thomas de Insula O.P., Sermonibus per pluribus …) correctly ascribe them to the Pseudo Thomas de Lisle, or more accurately to Thomas Brito (Thomas Britonis, Thomas le Breton). What confirms the attribution is the existence in extant Parisian stationers’s lists of 1275, 1286, and 1304 offering these sermons in peciae. These are identified as being by Thomas Britonis with the correct incipit for the Sermones de Communi Sanctorum as “Praecinxisti me virtute.”

Apart from his authorship of these sermons nothing is known of Thomas Brito. It is surmised that he was a Franciscan friar from northern France who wrote around the 1260s. Pope assumes his popularity: “his works show on at least three peciae lists over a period of thirty odd years attests to his popularity at the time” (1999, Bergendal MS 120, p. 2).

Schneyer records only 20 manuscripts, many of them fragmentary (vol. V, p. 670). There is no incunable edition, and the text has never been edited. No manuscripts are listed in North American collections in DeRicci’s Census or Faye and Bond’s Supplement. One additional manuscript found today in the Bergendal Collection (Toronto, Joseph Pope, MS 120; see Pope, 1999, unpaginated) is substantially different from the present version. It includes only the Sermones de Communi Sanctorum but with variant incipits for the sermons, incorporating Anglo-Norman proverbs into the text following many of the Latin incipits (e.g., for the feast In consecrationi Virginis, our manuscript: “Qui habet sponsam, sponsus est (Joh. 3, 29)--Solent isti reges” [=Schneyer 595]; Bergendal MS 120: “Qui habet sponsam, sponsus est (Joh. 3, 29)--Dicitur vulgariter et verum est: Bien est asencie, qui bien est mariee” [=Schneyer 594]). The presence of these proverbs in Bergendal MS 120 confirms the French, or Anglo-Norman, provenance of the text and its circulation. A critical edition is necessary to resolve the relationships of these significant variants as they bear on the questions of authorship and reception.


Bataillon, L.-J. La Prédication au XIIIe siècle en France et en Italie, Aldershot, 1993.

Kaeppeli, Thomas and Emilio Panella. Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum Medii aevi, vol. 4., Rome, 1993.

Pope, Joseph. One hundred and twenty-five manuscripts: Bergendal Collection, Toronto, Brabant Holdings, 1999.

Schneyer, Johannes Baptist. Repertorium der lateinischen Sermones des Mittelalters für die Zeit von 1150-1350 (Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittelalters 43). 9 vols. Münster 1969-80, vol. V, pp. 631–670.

Wadding,Luke. Scriptores Ordinis Minorum, Rome, 1906.

Online resources

The sermon as a literary genre

On sermons and preaching

BIBLEX, bibliography of exempla (CNRS and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes)