Ferial Psalter and Hymnal (Franciscan Use)

Italian (Padua)
Medieval (Late Gothic)/early Renaissance

Place of Manufacture: Franciscan Convento del Santo, Padua, Italy


Overall (page dimensions): 56.5 x 41 cm (22 1/4 x 16 1/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Tempera and ink with gold on parchment; bindings of calfskin over boards and bronze cornerpieces

Not On View





Ferial psalter (a collection of Psalms for daily use) and hymnal written for Franciscan use, with 190 folios (ff.):

ff.1-128: Ferial psalter
ff. 129-190: Hymnal (Temporale, Sanctorale, Commons)

1 column of 14 text lines in Latin, 5 staves of music. Bounding lines blind or light plummet, sometime full-length to upper edge, writing lines blind or light plummet. Square, hightened neumes on 4-line red staff, c-clef indicated.

Lacking one illuminated leaf after f. 3, out-of-sequence single illuminated leaves by the same scribe and artist inserted after folios 133, 140, and 176. Codicologically, the manuscript consists of three sections: Sections 1 and 3 (quires 1-7 and 16-20, i.e. ff. 1-61 and 129-190) share the same scribe and artist and have catchwords in lower center of final verso of each quire, some of which have been effaced to avoid mis-match with inserted leaves (e.g. following f. 140). Section 2 (quires 7-14, i.e. ff. 62-128) is foliated by a contemporary hand in red arabic numerals in center of upper margin as I-LXVI (repeats “XLII”, “XLIII”, and “XLVI”, but corrects itself at f. 50, so reaches “LXVI” on f. 128). 17th-century foliation throughout in black ink, arabic numerals, upper margin of each recto, begins with “12” on f. 11 and does not include inserted leaves, used here for reference. The three inserted singletons retain the foliation from their original context (called “265”, “181”, and “159” respectively).

Written in a Rotunda script in black ink with red rubrics. Eight 5-line initials, foliate in colors on gold background with acanthus into margin and large gold balls with rays: seven five-line foliate initials in colors on gold background with acanthus into margin and gold balls with rays, some with cornucopias, flowers, or fruit infill, on ff. 1, 40, 51v, 129, after 133, after 140, and after 159 (the last three are singletons by the same scribe and artist, probably inserted from another volume of the set). At least one initial lacking, after f. 3, presumably the [B] of Psalm 1 - offset of gold balls visible on f. 3v. On folios 1 - 61 and 129 - 190, the Psalms and hymns begin with a three-line filigree initial in red with purple or blue or blue with red, with some gold, and white highlighting. Verse initials alternate red and blue. On ff. 62 - 128, psalm initials alternate red followed by black with red filigree or blue followed by black with yellow filigree.

Binding: Original diced calf over thick boards, bronze floral centerpiece on upper cover, bronze cornerpieces, mid-board supports, edge guards (some lacking), and support plate along lower edge of lower board, bronze-framed title etiquette in center of lower cover (63 x 40 mm) reads “Nocturn[ale] et/ comm[unale] sanctorum”.


Rubric on f.1 refers to Padua and provides date of 1475 for this manuscript : "Ad homorem omnipotentis dei et beatae marie virginis et beati francisci. Incipit psalterium nocturnum cum humnario Anno domini Mccccolxxv [1475].../ Primo die quo trinitas beata mundum condidit.../...fidelibus audi precantem. Didacum amen./ Restauravit F[ratus] Carolus Padovino Prov[incia]e Ref. Rozane Anno domini m[effaced]."

The inscription at the end of the manuscript states that it was repaired by one Brother Carolus of Padua in 1504 or 1514 (the date is faded).

The 16th-century inscription on f. 191v is illegible.


By 1929, Denman W. Ross (1853-1935), Cambridge, MA; 1929, gift of Denman W. Ross. (Accession date: March 7, 1929)

Credit Line

Denman Waldo Ross Collection