Thursday, October 26, 2017

Ancient Sacramentaries in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France

As a follow up to yesterday’s post of some historical Ambrosian Missals, here is a collection of illustrations and decorations found in early Roman Sacramentaries, from the endlessly useful website of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Some of the most famous and important liturgical manuscripts in the world are kept there, and can be downloaded for free in pdf format, since they are all in the public domain; this is no more than a tiny selection of their many treasures. I have cropped most of these images, eliminating the empty spaces on the pages. They are all from the Latin section of the Département des Manuscrits, so in the headers, I have put the name and date of each manuscript, and its number within that department, and then the folio numbers and brief explanations of the text in the small captions beneath. The illustrators tended to put their best efforts into the Preface, Sanctus and Canon, and the majority of the images are taken from that part.
Sacramentary of Charles the Bald, 869-870 (1141)
“Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare” (folio 4r)
The Sanctus (folio 6r)
The beginning of the Canon (folio 6v)
Gellone Sacramentary, 780-800 (120480
The first page of text (folio 1v): “In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, here begins the Sacramentary.” The ancient Roman sacramentaries typically began as this one does with Christmas Eve.
Part of the Solemn Prayers at the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday (folio 54v)
Part of the Preface and the beginning of the Canon (folio 143v). The Sanctus is written in red letters, in Latin, but with Greek letters.
The Sacramentary of Nonantola, 9th century (2292)
The Preface (folio 7v). Part of the text on the other side of the page is visible through the parchment.
The beginning of the Canon (folio 8r)
The prayers of Easter (folio 50v)
Sacramentary of Figeac, 11th century (2293)
Preface dialog and the beginning of the Preface (folio 17v)
End of the Preface (folio 19r)
Beginning of the Canon (folio 20v)
Sacramentary of the Abbey of Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, 1134-50 (12072)
Preface dialog and the beginning of the Preface (folio 2v)
Preface (folio 3r)
Beginning of the Canon (folio 4r)
Sacramentary of Rodrade, ca. 850 (12050)
“Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare” (folio 20v)
“Te igitur clementissime” (folio 23r)
Sacramentary of Corbie, (Abbey of St Peter), 853-75 (12051)
This is one of a number of Carolingian and post-Carolingian luxury manuscripts of extremely high quality, in which the pages are dyed with a very expensive purple material, a technique imitated from Byzantium. In this case, only six pages are dyed in this fashion, with the text of a very brief Ordo Missae and the Canon from the Preface to the Agnus Dei (folios 6-11). 
“Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare” (folio 7v)
Te igitur clementissime Pater (folio 8v)
Sacramentary of Liège (from the monastery of St Bertin), 11th century (819)
Preface dialog (folio 9r)
Preface (folio 9v)
Beginning of the Canon (folio 10r)
The Lamb of God, with a very clever illustration of the words of Psalm 84, “Truth has risen from the earth, and justice has looked down from heaven.” (folio 13r) 
Sacramentary of St Denys, second half of the 9th century (2290)
The beginning of the Sacramentary, and a very brief and almost useless succinct Ordo Missae (folio 17v)
VD for “Vere dignum” (folio 19r)

The first word of the Canon, “Te” (folio 20r). The use of a whole sheet for a single word of two letters indicates that this is also a luxury production.
The Sacramentary of Drogo, Bishop of Metz, 845-855 (9428)
Ivory carvings on the cover, which is contemporary to the manuscript itself.
The Sanctus (folio 15r)
“Te igitur” (folio 15v)
Prayer on the feast of the Purification (folio 38r). Note the lovely illustration of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, worked into the first letter of the prayer.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: