POPE ST LEO I 'the Great' (d. 461), Sermons, in Latin, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Italy, second half of the fifteenth century]
260 x 170mm. iii paper + 140 + iii paper leaves: 1-1410, COMPLETE except for a few words excised from f.1, catchwords throughout except in the last two quires, signatures survive in most quires, foliated in modern pencil in the fore-edge margin, 33 lines written in dark brown ink in an informal semi-humanistic bookhand, between two verticals ruled in plummet and 33 horizontals ruled in ink, justification: 185 x 110mm, rubrics in red, running headings in red in upper outer corners of rectos, capitals stroked in red, one-, two-, and three-line initials alternately blue with red penwork flourishing or red with pink penwork flourishing (one painted(?) initial excised from f.1, the lower margin excised from the same page prior to the 17th century, perhaps to remove an ownership inscription or coat of arms, some minor worming and discolouration of first and last leaves, but generally in good condition throughout). 18th-century Italian half sheep and patterned paper over pasteboards, the spine lettered in gilt 'XXXII S. LEON PP. SERM MS.' (scuffed).
1. Perhaps from the Dominican convent of San Domenico, Gaeta (see lot 16): bound uniformly with the manuscript from Gaeta (lot 22) and eleven others and similarly inscribed 'A.7 Sermones S. Leonis Pape' (f.5, cf. f.2) and 'Foglie * 145 Segnato N. AP' (end pastedown). With marginalia by various hands, including a reference to astronomy next to a passage mentioning the stars (f.73), and a note apparently dated 1486 (f.126v).
2. HSA, B2720; Faulhaber, pp.18-19, 60-71, 81-82.
Faulhaber itemizes 101 texts. The primary contents are the 'Tractatus septem et nonaginta of Pope St Leo 'the Great' (r. 440-461) (ff.1-16, 19-123), with other short pieces mixed-in and added at the end, including St Leo's Tomus ad Flavianum (ff.16-19, 123-126v), and his Letters, nos. CXIX and CVI (ff.126v-128v), Peter, bishop of Ravenna's Epistola Euticeti presbytero (f.128v), two sermons attributed here to Leo (ff.129-131v), and the Breviarium contra hereticos of Caesarius of Arles, here also attributed to St Leo (ff.131v-140v). From f.129 the rubrics are pink instead of red, there are spaces for decorated initials, and the script at the beginning of the first Pseudo-Leo piece on f.129 is written in more humanistic style, suggesting that the section from f.129 to the end is a contemporary addition.
Leo the Great is perhaps most famous for having persuaded Attila the Hun to abandon a planned sack of Rome in 452. His surviving writings consist of 143 letters and the sermons in the present volume. His most enduring legacy, written in response to a letter of Eutiches of Constantinople that asserted that Christ had only a divine nature, was his counter-assertion that both a divine and a human nature were combined in Christ, an idea he expounded in a letter known as the Tome, included here.