PONTIFICAL, use of Rome, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM [north-east Italy, c.1470]165 x 114mm. 103 leaves: 19(of 12, lacking i-iii), 212, 310, 4-912, catchwords in lower margins of final versos, 31 lines written in black ink in a semi-cursive bookhand between two verticals and two horizontals ruled in blind, justification: 103 x 72 mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched red, one-line initials alternately in red and blue, two- to four-line initials alternately in red flourished with violet and blue flourished with red, ONE LARGE INITIAL IN BURNISHED GOLD WITH PURPLE FLOURISHING WITH BORDER of a burnished gold bar with acanthus leaves in blue, pink and green, and gold disks in neatly curling penwork (partial foliation shows that one gathering of 12 and three leaves are missing at the beginning, contents included the sacrament of confirmation and probably a calendar, text worn on a few leaves, a few contemporary erasures and corrections, contemporary and later marginal additions, some slightly cropped). Late 15th-century Italian brown goatskin stamped in blind with a frame and central compartment of double fillets tooled with grape stems in two sizes, four metal fasteners on leather thongs (two of metal catches defective, one loose, the thongs and their metal attachments replaced, rebacked, some worming, scuffed).
1. With its very full rubrics and easily portable size, the pontifical was probably intended as a working volume, containing the offices and benedictions specific to a bishop. The Ferrarese style of the illumination suggests an origin in north-east Italy.
2. Ernest E. Freemark: written on first leaf.
Ordination of clerics ff.1-15v: the four minor orders f.3, the three holy orders f.6v; consecration of bishops ff.15v-23; benediction of abbots and abbesses ff.23-26v; benediction of monks ff.26v-27v; benediction of nuns, separately as virgins and widows, ff.28-33v; benediction of deaconesses ff.33v-35v; benediction of the foundation stone of a church ff.36-37v; consecration of a church, with the Greek alphabet for inscribing in ashes on the floor -- the space for the Latin alphabet left blank, presumably as unnecessary, ff.37v-52; consecration of an altar ff.52v-57v; consecration of a portable altar ff.57v-61; benedictions of a cemetery and a burial ground ff.61v-64v; reconsecrations of a violated church and cemetery ff.64v-69v; consecrations of paten and chalice ff.69v-70v; benedictions of corporals, vestments, liturgical objects, a new cross etc ff.70v-76v; rites for Ash Wednesday, Holy Thursday and Easter Saturday, with reference on f.89 to the now missing text for Confirmation, ff.76v-89v; rites for restoring to holy orders those deposed ff.89v-91v; for deposing from holy orders, excommunication and anathematisation ff.91v-94v; for reconciling heretics to the church ff.94v-95v; for parish visitations ff.95v-97; for receiving legates, kings and princes and queens and princesses ff.97-98; for liberating the Holy Land f.98; contemporary addition of prayers and episcopal blessing for the Office of the Dead, benediction of a ring and general benediction ff.98v-101; slightly later addition of plenary absolution f.101; slightly later addition of two prayers f.101v; litany ff.102-103; added prayers f.103v.
The illuminated initial and border are typical of books produced in Ferrara c.1470 in the circle of Guglielmo Giraldi (f.1445-1490): G. M. Canova, 'guglielmo Giraldi e la grande miniatura per la Chiesa e per i Principi' in La miniatura a Ferrara dal tempo di Cosmè Tura all'eredità di Ercole de' Roberti, ed. F. Toniolo, 1998, pp.185-223. Like Giraldi himself who moved to Urbino around 1474, Ferrarese illuminators were much in demand and this pontifical, with its attractively flourished initials, may have been made in Ferrara itself or elsewhere in north-eastern Italy.