ST AUGUSTINE (354-430) and pseudo-Augustinus. Sermones ad heremitas, Confessiones; VALERIUS (d.1396). Epistola ad Augustinum, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Lombardy, third quarter 15th century]
250 x 172mm. 166 leaves: 1-1610, 176, early ink foliation in arabic numerals, horizontal catchwords in centre lower margin on last versos, two columns of 40 lines written in brown ink in a round gothic bookhand within four blind-ruled verticals and 41 horizontals ruled in pale brown ink, justification: 172 x 115mm, titles in red, running titles in red to several openings of the Confessions, two-line chapter initials alternately of red or blue, some with pen-work of the contrasting colour, text capitals touched yellow, FIFTEEN ILLUMINATED INITIALS (5-7 lines) in burnished gold on grounds of red, blue and green with white or yellow tracery, occasional corrections or notes in the margins (a few tiny wormholes to first 10 leaves, occasional flaking of ink, one or two initials very slightly smudged, repairs to blank margins of around 5 leaves.) Red morocco gilt by L. Broca, preserving two paper flyleaves from an earlier binding at back (modern index tabs to some books of the Confessions).
1. 17th-century ownership inscription erased from f.1
2. Number 'T.27' dated 1823, on first paper endleaf at back
3. Collation note in French, on second paper endleaf at back
4. Number '3' in blue ink at lower left corner of back pastedown
5. Unidentified modern bookplate
Pseudo-Augustinus, Sermones ad fratres suos heremitas (sermons 1-57; PL, xl, 1235-1341) ff.1-70v; Augustine, Confessiones (CPL 251; PL, xxxii, 659 seqq.) ff.71-165; Valerius, bishop of Hippo, Epistola ad Augustinum episcopum ... de conversione et baptismate ... eiusdem Augustini ex greco in latinum traducta, inc.: Litteris tuis et Andromacho Cirino Mediolanense cive referente conversionem tuam, added in a contemporary hand f.166v
The Confessions of St Augustine, one of the four Doctors of the Latin Church, has proved to be his most enduringly influential work. A prayer of repentence and praise for God, which also includes invaluable autobiographical details about its author, the Confessions enjoyed particular popularity during the Italian Renaissance. The Sermones ad heremitas, although attributed to Augustine in manuscripts and early printed editions, are not considered to be the saint's work. The collection, which is not attested before the 13th century, was first published in Modena in 1477. Thirteen incunable editions, ten of them printed in Italy and three in Italian translation, bear witness to the popularity of the text in the period when this manuscript was copied. Valerius, Augustine's predecessor as bishop of Hippo, comments in his letter, the final text included here, on the latter's conversion from Manicheanism to Catholicism, an experience which Augustine himself described in the Confessions.