Decorated Manuscript on Vellum.

Spain, c. 1550, later additions dated 1769.


540 x 400 mm, 169 leaves, lacks first leaf of original codex, else complete, 1(2) (front pastedown is part of the first bifolium), II2, II6, IV1-8 (lacks 1), V-XIII8, XIV2, XV-XXIII8, XXIV6+1 (stub in front of 1 originates from back pastedown, 1 attached to stub from back pastedown was part of the original manuscript, integrated into the last quire when the last six leaves were added in 1769), the first three quires were added later , i.e. the third at the same time as the last, while the first two are younger, the manuscript originally ended with the folio numbered 147.

Justification 400 x 265 mm, 445 x 265 in the added parts, in dark brown ink in a Spanish Rotunda, 5 staves of five lines in red with square musical notation and text, ruled in double blind lines; catch words, original foliation in roman numbers in red, modern arabic numbers in upper right in black ink; versals touched in yellow, rubrics in red, countless calligraphic tracery-initials with brown penwork and touched in yellow and green, alternating with puzzle-initials in red and blue with elaborate penwork in rectangular shape, penwork appears in purple, red and blue. One large illuminated initial at the beginning, one illuminated cartouche at the end. Heavy and strong vellum, typical for antiphonals, good condition, a few calligraphic initials a bit faded or flaked, vellum sometimes slightly darkened, a few edges worn or thumbed; few minor tears, trimmed at upper margin; where text and notes had faded they were rewritten (e.g. fol. 15). Calf over wooden boards with blind tooled roll stamps with floral decoration, bosses and two clasps, all in 15th-century style, c. 1900.

Incipit today (first leaf of third quire): “In festivitate Patrocinii Sti Jph/Ad Vesperas Antiphona Jacob autem …. Angelus domini apparuit Joseph dicens Joseph fili David noli timere ….” => (Matt. 1, 20) liturgy of the feast of St Joseph, written by the same hand as the last section, Incipit of core manuscript: “… illi continuo relictis retibus et navi secuti sunt” (Matt. 4, 20) Explicit of core manuscript, fol. 147: “Sancti vitalis martyris omnia fiant ut in festo sancti alberti epi:~”Incipit of added last quire: “Versikel: ad Tertiam: Constituit eum dominum domus suae …” Explicit of added last quire: “Amen.// Lo Escrivo Fray Francisco Xavier Martinez Anno de 1769”

This large antiphonal underwent interesting modification and has an interesting story. It contains the Proprium de Sanctis starting with St Joseph (19th of March) to St Vitalis/St Albertus episcopus (4th of November for Vitali, but the identity of “St Alberti” is difficult as Albert the Great was only canonized in 1931, and he was not particularly venerated in Spain, unlike St Vitalis, whose relics were transferred to Nájera). As the original manuscript continues with the text from St Matthew’s gospel, we may assume, that the younger addition of the third quire only replaced a damaged or outdated older quire with the same text. The incipit states that this Antiphonal belonged to a church or convent devoted to St Joseph, father of Jesus. Apparently it was still in use in 1769, when brother Francisco Xavier Martinez amended it. The style of the square penwork initials in the core of the manuscript as well as the calligraphic tracery, including the southern rotunda script point to Spain as place of origin. The 18th-century additions were also made by someone who was trained in Spain, as the name of the scribe suggests. The decoration of these added sections, however, is puzzling. The added pages look like they had been exposed to more humidity. Here, some of the smaller decorated initials as well as the decorative cartouche at the end and the big initial A at the beginning look influenced by extra-european indigenous art. Although the shape and design of the letters is European, though old-fashioned for the 18th century, the colours and design of the floral decoration might have been influenced by American native art. Many hypotheses could be suggested, one of them that the original manuscript was produced in Spain, taken to a missionary monastery somewhere in Southern or Central America, where it was repaired and amended by locals. The index of saints at the beginning of the codex was added later, as the headline states: “Tabla o indice nuevo de las missas que tiene esto libro”. The names of the saints, certain feastdays and liturgical sections of the mass refer to pages and words within the manuscript which are easily found with the help of the initials. The younger foliation was also added by the same scribe who added this index. The index lists names of saints that were typically venerated in Spain: SS Ildefonso, Raymundo, Beato Gonzalo, Francesco Xavier, Ygnacio, Ysidoro. Especially the saints Francesco Xavier and Ygnacio as founders of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) represent central figures of the missionary movement that started from Spain and Portugal. Francesco Xavier was beatified only in 1741 by Pope Benedict XIV. A paper stamp on “fol. 148” shows a figure of a saint with a staff in the centre, surrounded by some text, which reads “[P]ROVINC[IA] HISPANOR[omana?…] (illegible); the book may have been used both on the Spanish peninsula and in the missions abroad.

Provenance: The antiphonal was produced in Spain for a church that was dedicated to St Joseph, probably sometime in the middle of the 16th century. The index of saints, that was added after 1741 points to a couple of Spanish saints, but to no specific region. Saints that have only been canonized shortly before, have been included (Francesco de Sales in 1665, Gonzalo was beatified in 1741). It may have belonged to a Jesuit community. It could well have been used in a mission outside Europe, probably America, but returned to Spain, as the paper seal suggests. It was in use for at least 200 years.


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