TextmanuscriptTextmanuscripts - Les Enluminures

les Enluminures

JACOBUS DE VORAGINE, Sermones dominicales per totum annum [Sermones de Tempore]

In Latin, manuscript on paper
[France, likely Burgundy or the Franche-Comté (?), dated 1407]

TM 71

292 leaves, complete, in gatherings of 12 (i4, ii-xxiv12, xxv11 [12-1, last folio cancelled]), some catchwords, written in brown ink in a tight bâtarde script on up to 43 lines, text copied on two columns, ruled in plummet (justification 140 x 200 mm.), copied on thick paper (watermark close to Briquet 14174-14175: “Tête de bœuf,” Gray, 1403 and Autun, 1405; Besançon (Franche-Comté), 1403; Colmar 1406-1422; both Autun and Gray are part of the historical Burgundy), rubrics in red, first initial opening each sermon in red (2-line high), paragraph marks in red, some initials touched in red or yellow, some corrections or annotations added in the margins, ingenious marginal system of letters guiding the reader to major divisions and strong points of a given sermon, TWO DECORATED INITIALS, one 3-line high initial parti-colored red and blue with red pen flourishing extending in the margin, the other 4-line high initial equally parti-colored red and blue with red and black ink flourishing in the margin. Nineteenth-century calf binding, back sewn on 5 thongs, back and title gilt, frame on boards composed of a gilt frieze, binding solid, some scuffing on boards; paper restorations to bottom part of ff 285-292; some water-staining not hindering legibility. Dimensions 273 x 209 mm.

Dated manuscript, signed by a previously unknown scribe likely working in Burgundy, the present uncensored copy contains many sermons not found in the fifteenth-century printed editions. Whereas manuscripts of Jacobus de Voragine’s Sermones de Tempore are not rare, there is considerable textual variation in the extant copies. There exists no modern edition of the text.


1. Written by Philibert Cortot or Corton in 1407. The scribe also the gives the time and place of completion: 28 May 1407, at nine o’clock, in the house of a certain Humbert Pavon. The colophon on fol. 292v reads: “Explicit de Voragine luce .xxviii. maii per me Ph[ilibe]rtum Cortoti, anno domini millesimo quaranto septimo, hora nona, in domo domini Hu[m]berti Pavonis.” Cortot is not identified in the usual repertories of scribes, but he must have written the manuscript in Burgundy, based on the watermarks (see above), script, and later provenance. It is interesting that an apparently secular scribe copied the manuscript in a private home.

2. Cordeliers de Beaune. Ex-libris written in an eighteenth-century hand on the first folio reads: “Ex Biblio[theca] F[ratri] Minorum Belnensium” [Franciscan friars of Beaune]. The Couvent des Cordeliers is the oldest convent in Beaune, founded in 1239; most of its library went to the Bibliothèque municipale de Beaune at the Revolution. (See Paris, BnF, n.a.f. 6377, Catalogue de la bibliotheque de Beaune (Cote d’or) / Cordeliers de Beaune, fol. 86).


f. 1, incipit, [Prologue] Incipit prologus ad sermones infrascriptus, “Humane labilis vite de cursus salubri erudicione nos admones rebus…” (Schneyer, III, p. 221); rubric, In totum annum compilati per fratrem Jacobum de Varagine de ordine fratrum predicatorum; [Dominica prima Adventus sermo primus];“Prepare in occursum dei tui Israel. Amos iiii [Amos 4, 12]. Quando rex vel aliquis princeps maximis dignitatis ad civitatem…” (Schneyer, III, p. 221, T 1).

f. 292v, explicit, [Domenica 25 post pent.] “Ut autem impleti sunt… [Joh., 6, 12]. Per istam refectionem Christi qua omnes impleti sunt…[…]… Ad illum beatum finem perducat nos ille qui est principium et finis. Qui sine fine vivit et regnat in secula seculorum. Amen.” (Schneyer, III, p. 233, T 65);[Colophon] : “Deo Gratias. Explicit de Voragine luce .xxviii. maii per me Ph[ilibe]rtum Cortoti, anno domini millesimo quaranto septimo, hora nona, in domo domini Hu[m]berti Pavonis.”

This dated manuscript contains an uncensored version of Jacobus de Voragine’s Sermones dominicales per totum annum (see Schneyer, III, pp. 221-246) different from the expurgated version published in the fifteenth-century incunable (See Goff, J–182, Sermones dominicales, [Strasburg], not after 1473, and Goff, J–183, Sermones dominicales, 1484). The present manuscript contains passages that have been expurgated in the later printed versions, facts on the lives and beliefs of saints that were sure to displease the clergy. There are some 350 manuscripts of these Sermones de Tempore in European public institutions, as recorded by Schneyer, only a third of which are complete (III, pp. 233-235). To these should be added not more than five manuscripts in North American institutions (see De Ricci, Census; and Faye and Bond, Supplement; at least 2 among the 5 manuscripts are not described with enough precision to be certain of their identity). This is not a rare text; however, surprisingly no modern edition exists of the complete series of the Sermones de Tempore. In association with other known copies, our uncensored manuscript therefore constitutes an excellent editorial tool.

Jacobus de Voragine (born c. 1230 in Varazze, near Genoa; died c. 1298) entered the Dominican order in 1244, circulated as a preacher in many parts of Italy, and taught in schools of the order. He also led a distinguished career in ecclesiastical service first as provincial of Lombardy, then as a delegate from his province at the councils of Lucca (1288) and Ferrara (1290), and finally as bishop of Genoa from 1292 to 1298.

He left a list of his own works in his Chronicon januense listing the famous Legenda aurea, along with two volumes of “Sermons concerning all the Saints,” one of which he describes as very defuse and the other short and concise, a Sermones de omnibus evangeliis dominicalibui for every Sunday of the year (the present text) as well as a similar compilation for use from Ash Wednesday through the Tuesday after Easter. There is also a short treatise, “Marialis, qui totus est de B. Maria compositus,” consisting of 160 discourses on the attributes, titles, and so forth of the Virgin Mary.


Bertini-Guidetti, S. I Sermones di Jacopo da Varazze. Il potere delle immagine nel Duecento, Florence, Sismel, 1998.

Guère, Henry. “Le couvent des cordeliers à Beaune, 1241–1976,” Beaune, Extrait des Mémoires de la Société d’Archéologie de Beaune, vol. LVIII (1975–1976).

Jacobus de Voragine. Sermones dominicales per totum annum, [Strasburg], [not after 1473] (Goff, J–182)

Jacobus de Voragine. Sermones dominicales per anni circulum predicabiles…, s.l.n.n., 1484 (Goff, J-183; Inc. de la BnF, J-135; and Paris, BnF, Res. D-3328).

Jacobus de Voragine. Sermones dominicales per totum annum; Rever. D. D. magistri Jacobi de Voragine ordinis praedicatorum, quondam archiepiscopi Januensis. Nunc demum a quamplurimis erroribus expurgati, & vetusti codicis collatione ad integritatem suam restituti. Venetiis, ad Signum Concordiae, apud Foravantem a Prato,1589.

Moorman, John R.H. Medieval Franciscan Houses, New York (Franciscan Institute Publications. History Series, no. 4), 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). 9 vols. Münster 1969-80.

Online resources

Biography and works of Jacobus de Voragine

University of Lyon Project on the Sermons of Jacobus de Voragine