Expositio misse cum orationibus et letania domini Alberti Magni episcopi ratiponensis, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Spain, mid-15th century]
203 x 137mm. iii + 95 leaves: 1- 910, 105(v a singleton), catchwords at lower right of final versos, COMPLETE, 26 lines in black ink written in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 27 horizontals, lines 1, 2, 25 and 27 running across the page, ruled in brown, some leaves overruled in red, justification: 127 x 80mm, rubrics in red, many guide words still in margins, neat corrections and additions in margins, text capitals touched yellow, one-line initials and paragraph marks in burnished gold flourished with dark blue or in blue, two- to four-line initials with staves of burnished gold on divided grounds of blue and red with white decoration, one LARGE ILLUMINATED INITIAL AND FULL-PAGE BORDER the initial with staves of pink and white on a burnished gold ground with infill of acanthus tendrils in blue, green and pink joining the border of acanthus and flower sprays with burnished gold circles, bar of burnished gold and red or blue surrounding the text, one HISTORIATED INITIAL with stave of blue and white, enclosing the Holy Face on a ground of burnished gold with partial border of green acanthus and burnished gold circles with penwork (outer lower corners dampstained and contracted, many catchwords offset). 19th-century grey calf tooled in black by, or repaired by, Dawson (dampstained and bowed lower half).
1. The first treatise is principally aimed at a layman, with prayers in the masculine, for example on f.12, whereas the prayers from f.52v are for the priest celebrating the mass; the treatise was written and decorated in Spain, probably Castile.
2. Note of '92 feuillets' on third added leaf
3. Gerald Hart (1849-1936) presented to the Hon. Thomas Ryan (1804-1889) in Montreal in 1878: inscription on first added leaf To the Honourable Thomas Ryan, Senator of the dominion of Canada, this volume (written about the year 1450) of the forms of liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church, is presented in remembrance of a most disinterested and esteemed friendship lately extended to Gerald E. Hart. Montreal, 27th May 1878. Gerald Ephraim Hart, son of the author and lawyer Adolphus Hart of Montreal, was noted as a bibliophile, historian and numismatist. This manuscript was deemed a suitable gift to Thomas Ryan, Irish by birth, who used his position as a leading figure in Canadian banking and shipping and, from 1867, as Senator to protect Catholic interests in Montreal.
Formula de devota auditione misse per orationes salutiferas et de expositione signorum in Canone propter simplices, opening Atria domus tue... ff.2-52: de significatione vestium... with prayers ff.3-17, expositiones signorum in canone with prayers ff.17-27, de sanguine domini with prayers ff.27-29v, prayer to wounds of Christ Avete venerabilissima domini nostri ihesu xpi vulnera quinque... ff.29v-31v, prayers during the Canon and when receiving the sacrament, ending Explicit expositio Misse cum orationibus devotissimis ff.31v-52; Prayers for the celebrant, ff.52v-74; Oratio sive letania domini Alberti magni Episcopi Ratisponensis, opening O candor lucis eterne... ff.74-92v; prayers, ff.92v-93
A second scribe takes over at 52v, where the intended reader changes from a layman to a priest. The Litany attributed to Albertus Magnus, 1206-80 and bishop of Regensburg for two years from 1260, contains many German saints and seems an unusual choice for a Spanish patron. The Dominican Order, to which Albert belonged, might have fostered use of the litany in Spain but it seems likely to have appealed only to a patron with some southern German connections. The presence of St Joseph, the Virgin's husband, makes it unlikely that Albertus Magnus was the actual author, since St Joseph's feast was only added to the Dominican calendar in the late fourteenth century.
The illuminated border on f.2 shows the decorative, more formal symmetry typical of Castilian adaptations of French or Netherlandish acanthus borders. The gold initials on divided grounds of red and blue follow a conventional type but the white patterning shows particular subtlety. In some initials, as ff.3 and 14, the white is applied to mask the coloured ground, leaving the central motif in red and blue. In the initial of the Litany, f.74, the Holy Face has the dark complexion that had been established as a possible depiction of Christ from the fame of certain pilgrimage images. By the fifteenth century, the Holy Face more usually accompanied prayers to the Veronica, the cloth miraculously imprinted with Christ's face, which was treasured in Rome. Its appearance here is an imaginative response to the text, since the Litany opens with an adaptation of phrases from the Book of Wisdom, where Wisdom, subsequently equated with Christ as well as the Virgin, is called the spotless mirror of God's majesty and the image of His goodness. Glass mirrors were necessarily circular, so that the letter O, with the inner framing of yellow on the gold ground, suggests a mirror in which the face of Christ is reflected. The choice of texts was obviously very individual and the same attention was given to their appropriate decoration.