St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 403, Back cover on Flickr.

Manuscript title: 12th Century Breviary from the monastery of Disentis

Manuscript summary: This is a collection of liturgical works from the monastery of Disentis, written in the second half of the 12th century, most likely around 1200. In sequence, the volume contains a calendar (pp. 2-13), a psalter (pp. 15-90) and a hymnary (pp. 91-110), a (mixed) capitulary and collectarium (pp. 116-186), as well as an antiphonary, a lectionary, and a homiliary (pp. 203-638). Highlights from the point of view of manuscript decoration include the initial “B” at the beginning of the psalter (p. 15) and a picture of the crucifixion (p. 89). This breviary is one of the very few surviving medieval manuscripts from the monastery of Disentis. The manuscript came to Kempten around 1300; as early as the 15th century, the Disentis Breviary was held in the Abbey Library of St. Gall.

Origin: Disentis Monastery (Switzerland)

Period: 1150/1200

Image source: St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 403: 12th Century Breviary from the monastery of Disentis ( )

“When Anthony of Egypt entered a church and heard the words of the Gospel, "If you will be perfect, go, sell all that you have and give to the poor,” he took them as if said to him personally, thinking that this is how Christ should be obeyed. And so, having sold his family possessions and distributed the money to the poor, he withdrew to the vast solitudes of Egypt.“ - Roman Breviary 

Pretty medieval manuscript of the day is a lavishly illustrated Franciscan breviary. The historiated initial shows David with his harp. The border contains fantastical creatures, and owls, and dragons, and naked figures fighting, and angels bearing coats of arms, and… well really there is just so much going on here that the best thing you can do is take a proper close-up look! If this image isn’t high res enough for you, check out the original over on Flickr.

Image source: Schaffhausen, Ministerialbibliothek, Min. 98: Breviarium OFM . Creative Commons licensed via eCodices on Flickr.


Neumes! Magical neumes!

Check out these leaves from a breviary dating all the way back to the 11th century. Contains versicle and hymn for first vespers of Passion Sunday, the Magnificat antiphon, the invitatory (from Psalm 94) with neumes, the vesper oration; the hymn at matins (Pange Lingua), and the first lesson at matins with its responsory, with neumes.

Source: Conception, Conception Abbey and Seminary, Special Collections,  CA 06


Today is the fortieth day after Christmas, a day reserved for the celebration the feast of the Purification of the Virgin. The feast commemorates Mary’s presentation of the infant Christ and her reintegration into Temple worship. (According to Mosaic law, women remained ritually impure after giving birth and could not participate in Temple rituals until a period of forty days had passed.) In England the feast became known as Candlemas because it was accompanied by a procession of the faithful, each holding a newly blessed candle.

This leaf, from a fourteenth-century Italian breviary, contains part of the office for the feast. Notice that on the recto, the decorator goofed and did not adhere to strict alternation between red and blue initials.
RARE FO Z113.P3 item 7

Columbia, University of Missouri, Ellis Library, Special Collections, RARE FO Z113.P3 item 7.  More info at Digital Scriptorium.

- Julie Christenson

Pretty medieval manuscript of the day is the Stuart Breviary, an illuminated manuscript which belonged to Mary Queen of Scots. According to the National Library of Russia (which owns the book):

The most famous book of hours was given to Mary, Queen of Scots by her uncle, the Duc de Guise, when she was still betrothed to the Dauphin, the future Frances II. It was created and beautifully illuminated in France in the second quarter of the 15th century. On blank pages and of the margins there are many notes,written by Mary herself. It is said that she took this very book to the scaffold with her. 

Source: National Library of Russia website

I think the intricate detail of the border illustrations is quite wonderful.

Image source: Image declared as public domain on Wikimedia Commons because its copyright has expired.