Southern Netherlands (Liège?): perhaps the middle of the 14th century. A remarkable anthology of texts from the library of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Jacques, Liège, illuminated with one large miniature depicting the Wound in Christ's Side notable for its early date, bound in the substantial remains of a medieval binding.
Parchment, c.130 × 95 mm, vi + 141 leaves, apparently complete except for excised blanks. Bound in the substantial remains of a medieval binding: sewn on four bands laced into slightly bevelled wood boards covered with undecorated brown leather; the spine with an added 18th-century(?) title piece at lettered in gilt capitals "Augustinus | de | Verba dei", the base of the spine lettered "MS. [SAE]C. XV"; the sewing broken at fols. 56–57 and 88–89; the spine restored, with new joints.
Collation: i10-ix (1st is the pastedown, 6th, 8th, 9th blanks excised); 1–48, 5–712 (fols. 1–68); 86+1 (7th inserted; fols. 69–77), 912 (fols. 78–89); 108 1114, 1212, 1312, 144 (the last is the pastedown) (fols. 90–140), catchwords except at the end of codicological units, leaf-signatures “a” in quire 10; prickings often survive in all outer margins suggesting that the books preserves its full medieval dimensions; ruled in plummet for 21–23 lines per page, written in gothic script by several hands, rubrics in red, capitals stroked in red in some sections, illuminated with a large miniature of the Wound in Christ’s Side, one fine five-line puzzle initial, the interior with fine penwork decoration in the form of hybrid creature reserved against a hatched background (fol. 1r), two-line initials and one-line paraphs alternately red or blue, the initials often with penwork ornament, sometimes filing a margin, and sometimes incorporating a human face.
The composition of the volume is complex and would reward further research. In overview, it is composed of four main parts, the first with texts by Augustine, Anselm, and David of Augsburg (quires 17); the second an ordo for giving communion to a sick monk (quire 8); the third with prayers to the Virgin (quire 9); and the fourth a miscellaneous collection of prayers, devotions, a miniature of the Wound of Christ, and texts concerning the use of images (quires 1015, with a change of scribe and layout at the beginning of quire 12, fol. 122).
1. (fols. 1r24r) "Augustinus, De verbo dei"
2. (fols. 24r29v) "Incipit sermo de anima et sponso"
3. (fols. 29v37r) "Meditatio humanae redemptionis edita ab Anselmo Cantuariensi archipiscopo"
4. (fols. 37r42r) "Anselmus De custodia interioris hominis"
5. (fols. 42r61r) "Quedam formula novitiorum quam frater David socius fratris Bertoldi dicitur composuisse"
6. (fols. 61r68v) "Ammonitio salutaris"
7. (fols. 69r77) "Ad communicandum fratrem infirmum, vadat sacerdos indutus alba cum stola deferens corpus domini reverenter in pixide cum vase...", the liturgical directions mention an abbot or prior, ending with prayers, including one (fol. 77rv) of Benedict XII (pope, 133442) carrying 30 days' indulgence.
8. (fols. 78r89v) Prayers to the Virgin
a. (fols. 78r81) "Supplicat humiliter et devote qui istud opus opponere fecit omnibus fratris suis Christianis... Obsecro te domina sancta Maria mater dei..."
b. (fol. 82r) "Ave Maria mitis et pia gratia plena..."
c. (fol. 82rv) "Ave Maria gratia plena dominus tecum martyr cum martyribus transgladiata..."
d. (fols. 82v83r) "Item quinque gaudia de sancta Maria"
e. (fol. 83rv) "Sanctus Thomas archiepiscpus Cantuariensis capellanus beate virginis frequenter consuevit beatam virginem ista septem gaudia devotissime salutari. Gaude virgo mater Christi..."
f. (fols. 84r85r) "Quidam etiam vir sanctus supradictus septem gaudiis beatam virginem frequenter consusevit... Cui beata virgo quadam vice in oratione constituo apparuit dicens Cur fili mi totiens hec michi annuntias gaudia... Gaude virgo mater Christi..."
g. (fol. 85rv) "Oratio Innocentii pape xl dierum habens indulgentias qui eam devote dixerit. Ave castitatis florens lilium odorem suavitatis..."
h. (fols. 85v87r) "Hanc orationem composuit beatus Bernardus ad ladem gloriose virginis Marie et incipit sic. Loquar ad cor tuum O Maria..."
i. (fol. 87r88r) "Oratio de beate virginis et de sancto Iohanne evangelista. O intemerata et in eternum benedicta..."
j. (fol. 88v) "Ad sanctam Mariam de bono fine. Oratio. Clementissima domina sancta Maria fac mecum hanc misericordiam in hora expirationis mee..."
k. (fols. 88v89r) "Tempore tonitrui vel choruscationis vel cuiuslibet tribulationis. Oratio. O rex glorie Christe veni cum pace...", ending with two short collects.
l. (fol. 89rv) "In nova legenda sanctorum que dicitur vita aurea sic habetur. Refert Iohannes Damascenus... quod demones adeo illud timent."
9. (fols. 90r100r) The Psalter of St Jerome: "Prologus vel oratio sequentis operis. Presta quesumus omnipotens et misericors deus... Incipit Psalterium beati Iheronimi. Verba mea auribus percipe domine..."
10. (fols. 100r141v) A long series of prayers attributed to, or including quotations from, Augustine, Crysostom, Bernard, Peter of Blois, Anselm, Isidore, Haimo, and Ecclesiasticus, including:
a. (fols. 111r113r) "Incipit melodia beati Bernardi abbatis. Dulcis Ihesu memoria, vera dans corda gaudia / Sed super mel et omnia, dulcis eius presentia /...", laid out as rhyming verse
b. (fols. 119v121v) "Salutatio vulneris Ihesu Christi in latere suo. Salve plaga lateris nostri redemptoris...", in rhyming verse, but written continuously; illustrated with a large miniature of the Wound of Christ
c. (fol. 129rv) "Hec sunt septuaginta nomina virginis gloriose Marie..."
d. (fol. 139rv) "Quid sit adorandum in ymaginem de crucifixi vel sancte Marie vel sancti inde versus. Effigiem Christi qui transis pronus honora /..." in rhyming verse
e. (fol. 139v140v) "Pictura et ornamenta in ecclesia sunt laicorum lectiones et scripturae..."
One large miniature depicting the Wound in Christ's Side (fol. 119v). The last few decades have seen an explosion of interest in medieval images of the Wound in Christ's Side. In most depictions of the Crucifixion the wound is shown as a horizontal laceration, but when shown separate from Christ's body it is often depicted in close-up and vertically, and this has led many scholars to read the image in other ways. As David S. Areford puts it, "Although the mandorla-shaped wound suggested the presence of Christ's body and the totality of his suffering, its fleshy form certainly encouraged other corporeal associations. In this regard, several scholars have explored the erotic, gendered, and psychosexual aspects of these images, interpreting the wound as a not-so-veiled substitute for the vulva or vagina" ("Reception", Studies in Iconography, 33 (2012), pp. 7388; written as a follow-up to his "The Passion Measured: A Late-Medieval Diagram of the Body of Christ", in The Broken Body: Passion Devotion in Late-Medieval Culture, ed. by A. MacDonald et al. (Groningen, 1998), pp. 21138).
Images of the Wound in Christ's Side are often part of a series of images including his other wounds, or are incorporated into larger ensembles, such as the Arma Christi, and are typically 15th-century, so the present image is especially notable for its early date and for the fact that the Wound is the only image in the entire manuscript, whose text concludes with two pieces discussing of the use of images in religious devotion (fols. 139v140v).
i) Written no earlier than the 1330s (see fol. 77v) perhaps in northern France but more likely in the southern Netherlands, and in view of the later provenance, in all likelihood at Liège. The involvement of an illuminator and several scribes, some doing relatively short stints, suggests collaboration within a monastic setting rather than production in a professional lay workshop.
ii) The Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Jacques, Liège: inscribed with their ownership notes at least nine times, in various forms, including "Liber monasterii sancti Jacobi Leodiensis in insula", and with their shelf-mark "F. 57" (fol. 1r). The presence of so many ownership inscriptions in any manuscript is extremely unusual, and is perhaps explained by how small and potentially easy to steal this volume would be. Included in their sale: Catalogue des livres de la bibliothèque de la célèbre ex-abbaye de St. Jacques à Liège... le 3 mars 1788, lot 343 (catalogue available via Google Books).
iii) Unidentified American bookseller, early 20th century(?), with his pencil price 75.00, later crossed-through and reduced to 35.00 (fol. i verso, upper left corner).
iv) Until recently in an American private collection. (Item #5019)