TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

Sermons for the Proper of Time (anonymous)

In Latin, decorated manuscript on paper
Germany or Eastern France (Strasbourg?), c. 1470-80

TM 392-5

i (modern paper) + 12 + i (modern paper) folios on paper, rough and brittle, watermark, Oxhead with eyes and nostrils above a star consisting of one line, similar to Piccard 74672, 74676, 74677, all Strasbourg 1475, and Piccard 74691, Andernach 1475, modern foliation in pencil, top outer corner recto, beginning and ending imperfectly (collation, i12), reinforced with a paper strip in the center of the quire, catchwords, ff. 8rv, 10 and 11, frame ruled very lightly in lead (justification 144-142 x 90 mm.), written in a bold cursive gothic bookhand in thirty-one to twenty-nine long lines, red used within the text to mark citations, two-line red initials, f. 1 darkened, stains, bottom outer corners, and water damage, upper portion of the pages from f. 5v, with slight damage to the top lines of text, ff. 10-12v, but overall in legible condition. Bound in modern pasteboard covered with a vellum leaf from a large sixteenth-century (?) choir Psalter (not noted), cockled but in good condition. Dimensions 210 x 145 mm.

This collection of four sermons, now bound as an independent volume, was once part of a longer (lost?) manuscript. Only one of these sermons has been identified in another manuscript, and all are by unknown authors. The content of these sermons appears to be refreshingly approachable and straightforward. Written quickly in a legible script and well organized, this small collection of unpublished sermons thus represents an interesting opportunity for further research.


1.This is one quire removed from a longer manuscript in the late nineteenth or twentieth century, when it was bound in its present pasteboard binding covered with a leaf for a large choir Psalter. It now begins and ends imperfectly. The evidence of the script and watermark suggest that this manuscript was written in Germany or Eastern France, possibly in Strasbourg, c. 1470-80.

2. Dealers’ notes include, front flyleaf, in pencil, “M 113,” and a brief description of the manuscript in German, handwritten in pencil on a small paper sheet, laid in.


ff. 1-2v, incipit, beginning imperfectly, ff. 1-2v “//interrogacione uidebatur dubitasse quod beati non erat … et ideo aulus.”

Sermon, here beginning imperfectly (not listed in Schneyer or Manuscripta mediaevalia).

ff. 2v-6v, [margin: Dominica quarta], incipit, “’Miserunt iudei ab irosolimus [sic] sacerdotes et leuites ad Johannem, etc. Jo. i. [John 1:19].’ Enim quo tempore johannes baptisto inchoauit baptismum …. Johannes exemplo cum laudare.

Sermon for the fourth Sunday, presumably in Advent (not listed in Schneyer or Manuscripta mediaevalia).

ff. 6v-11, [margin: Dominica infra octauam natiuitas], incipit, “’Erat maria et Ioseph admirantes iesus Lc 2 [?cf. Luc 2:16-18]. Quia istis diebus fecimus festum de Christi nativitate et annunciamus in officio et predicacionibus gloriam et magnificenciam eius ad hec dicat festiuitas. Id circo … Gloria dei uita eterna gratiam et gloriam dabit dominus … cum patre etc.

Sermon for the Sunday within the octave of the Nativity (not listed in Schneyer or Manuscripta mediaevalia).

ff. 11-12v, Dominca prima post epiphani, incipit, “Cum factus ihesus annorum duodecim Luc 21 [Luke 2:42?]. Nuper celebrauimus festum epiphanie quo litteraliter … magi et sapientes qui errant regi ….et non uidunt puerum//”

Sermon for the first Sunday after Epiphany; Schneyer 8:118, no. 25, in Bamberg, SB Theol. 37 (Q.II.24), here ending imperfectly.

Although this manuscript had the misfortune to be removed rather crudely from a longer manuscript, losing in the process the beginning of the first sermon, as well as the end of the last sermon, we can still deduce something about the type of manuscript it must have belonged to. It was part of an organized collection of sermones de tempore or sermons for the Proper of Time – the part of the liturgical year including the feasts and holidays commemorating the Life of Christ, which are organized around the moveable feast of Easter. The quire described here was once near the beginning of the manuscript, which would have begun with the first Sunday in Advent (Advent is the liturgical time period including the four Sundays before Christmas, and the beginning of the liturgical year in most manuscript from the later Middle Ages).

The manuscript was far from luxurious. It was copied in a workmanlike cursive script on rather rough paper, but it was a manuscript that would have been not only affordable, but easy to use. Red is used for the two-line initials that begin each sermon, and within the text red is used to highlight citations. None of the authors of these four sermons have been identified in the usual reference works (see Schneyer and Manuscripta Mediaevalia, listed below), and only one of these sermons has been identified in another manuscript. Given the large corpus of medieval sermon material that has yet to be carefully studied and catalogued, this is not unheard of, but it certainly does make them texts that deserve to be studied carefully. They appear to be refreshingly straightforward, fairly simple expositions of their texts.


Bériou, Nicole. “Les Sermons latins après 1200,” in Beverly Mayne Kienzle, The Sermon, Typologie des sources du moyen âge occidental, 81-83, Turnhout, Brepols, 2000.

Longère, Jean. La prédication médiévale, Paris, Etudes augustiniennes, 1983.

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, Münster, 1969-80.

Online resources

Briquet Online (Kommission für Schrift- und Buchwesen des Mittelalters
der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften)

Piccard Online:

Manuscripta mediaevalia (online catalogue of manuscripts in German Libraries)

Sermones.net: Édition électronique d’un corpus de sermons latins médiévaux

Medieval Sermons and Homilies; Bibliography, by Professor Charles Wright, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

John M. Howe, Texas Tech University. Sermons; Bibliography