Rule of Saint Benedict, for Nuns

Medieval (Gothic)
about 1400–50

Object Place: Europe, Italy


Overall (page dimensions): 19 x 14.1 cm (7 1/2 x 5 9/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Tempera and ink on parchment; bindings of calfskin over oak boards

Not On View





Rule of St. Benedict, written for the use of Benedictine nuns, with 50 folios (ff.) and 2 leaves.

f. i: [originally blank]. Prayers for the weekly outgoing and incoming meal server at the abbey (as stipulated in Chapter 35 of the Rule), added 17th century (“Benedictio pro ebdomedaria quoquine exeunte…/ Deus cui humilium semper accepta sunt vota animarum respice propitious super huius servus tuae sororis nostrae obsequia et ad tua fac eam protingere gratiam ut que hanc ebdomedaria serviendo sororibus nostris devotamente complevit plenit plenissima animae venies in consequatur salvator mundi qui vivis et regnas in secula seculorum.
Benedictio pro ebdomedaria quoquine intrant…/”)
f. ii: Later musical addition, probably 17th century (“Verbum patris hodie procesit…”)(for Christmas)

ff. 1 - 32: Benedictine rule, translated into Italian and for the use of Nuns.
[Chapters 60 and 62 of the Rule, having to do with priests in the monastery, have been deliberately skipped in this translation, as is common in feminine versions of the rule, leaving 71 chapters of the original 73. ]

ff. 32 - 49v: Commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict, unrecorded and anonymous.
“Al nome del Signor nostro miser ihesu christi. In comenca el declaratorio sopra la Regula del patre nostro Beatissimo benedictoru. A scolta o filiola li comandamenti…del cor tuo ale admonitione del pietoso patre…/…le se vigna liberare li soi. S[ ]vi Christo redempotore [ ]el quale vive e regna col patre eterno e cum el spirito sancto in sempiterna seculorum secula amen./ [new script] Intercessio nos quos dominus beatorum Benedicti et Antonii et Bernardi et Abbatum conmenda[ ]it quod nostris [ ]itis nam[ ] valemus eorum patrocinio asse[ ] quomodo per dominum .n./ SIVIS AD VITAM INGREDI SERVA MANDATA [ ]/Deo gratias amen.”

f. 50: [originally blank] Prayers for the outgoing and incoming weekly Reader for the abbey (as stipulated in Chapter 38 of the Rule), in the same hand as the prayers on f. i. “Benedictio pro ebdomedaria lectoris…”

Pages contain 2 columns of 31 text lines in Italian; writing lines, in blind or light plummet, do not cross intercolumnar space.

Catchwords in lower center, last verso of each quire.

Written in an Italian Gothic script in brown ink, with red rubrics. 11-line opening initial in blue with red harping, 7-line initial on f. 32 in red with blue harping, 2-line initials throughout alternating blue with red harping or red with red harping.

Written for the use of Benedictine nuns. The text of the Benedictine rule is here translated into Italian and into the feminine, using, for example, “sorelle” for “fratelli” throughout, and substituting “abbatessa” for “abbato” (the only exception is the first chapter, on the history of the Order, which remains in the masculine).


"NC" monogram stamped in black on f. 1, possibly in 18th century.


By 1909, Dr. Denman W. Ross (1853-1935), Cambridge, MA; 1909, gift of Dr. Denman W. Ross. (Accession date: August 26, 1909)

Credit Line

Denman Waldo Ross Collection