Itinerarium animi, a Franciscan Vademecum, in Latin, MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Italy, 13th century]
162 x 112mm. i + 192 + ii(flyleaf and pastedown, 14th-century leaf) leaves, including 14 blanks: 115(xv inserted singleton), 2-410, 59(of 10, vii a singleton), 6-910, 108, 11-1910, early foliation in brown ink in upper right corner, folios numbered 8-172 and 243-281, some gatherings numbered at lower margin on opening rectos, two columns of varying numbers of lines, written in brown and black ink in a semi-formal gothic bookhand, between four verticals and 42 horizontals ruled in plummet, justification: 110 x 81mm (including blanks), some columns struck through with a single line, f.1 with initials touched red, marginal rubrics and manicules (a few leaves reinforced at gutter with vellum or paper, text-block split in several places). Sheep over bevelled wooden boards, last quarter of the 15th century, panelled in blind with foliate and rope tools, with brass bosses, clasps and catches, vellum title on lower board, 'Itinera[rum] Anni seu Sylva pred[icatorum] S. Bernard', ?original hasp from chained binding now with modern replacement chain; final flyleaf and pastedown from a legal document, Italy, c.1300, written in an 'a s' glossing hand, two columns, rubrics in red. (Some wear to binding, with a few cracks or losses to leather).
1. The first and final folios bear the red wax seal of a cardinal.
2. George John Warren (formerly Venables-Vernon), 5th Baron Vernon (1803-1866), (heraldic bookplate); his sale, Sotheby's New York, 10 June 1918, lot 682. Aided by Payne and Foss, Lord Vernon built up an important library, part of which later became the nucleus of the Holford library. Those books and manuscripts which were not sold to Holford were sold in 1918, 1921 and 1928 (see de Ricci, p.116).
Entitled a journey of the soul (Itinerarium animi), this manuscript is a collection of texts and themes designed to provide an itinerant preacher with sermons for every day of the year. It starts with a simple calendar, charting the course of the Church's year from the first Sunday in Advent, and mentioning only the major feasts, followed by an alphabetically-ordered subject index to the sermons, a list of the saints and feasts for which sermons are provided, a list of the thematic sermons (covering topics such as justice, love, usury, blasphemy, the Antichrist, the sinner's death), and finally the sermon texts, with schematically arranged distinctiones to guide the preacher's exposition. The manuscript preserves its accurate original ink foliation, which is used in the indices and apparatus to allow the reader to navigate easily around feasts and themes.
The saints' days included in this collection (Anthony, Clare and Francis) securely connect it to the Franciscan order, whose foundation in the first quarter of the 13th century, along with that of the Dominicans, changed the face of Christianity in medieval Europe. The opening sermon (on the flying eagle of Apocalypse 8, 13) was delivered De adventu in conventu Ianue, and suggests that the manuscript was compiled in the convent at Genoa, where a small studium existed for the training of friars from earliest years of the order. While the Franciscans emphasized example, or imitatio Christi, as their primary method of preaching, sermons were a permitted part of their mission, so long as they did not contribute to the vanity of the preacher more than the welfare of souls. Their ideal of poverty meant that the friars had to travel light and on foot, and so their books were designed, like this one, to be modest, functional and highly portable (D. D'Avray, 'Portable Vademecum books containing Franciscan and Dominican texts', in Manuscripts at Oxford: R.W. Hunt Memorial Exhibition, 1980, pp. 61-64).