Psalter (originally for Benedictine Use, adapted for Augustinian Use)

German (probably Trier)
Medieval (Gothic)
mid-13th century

Place of Manufacture: Abbey of St. Martin (?), Europe, Trier (?), Germany


Overall (page dimensions): 17 x 13.2 cm (6 11/16 x 5 3/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Tempera, ink, and gold leaf on parchment

Not On View





Psalter (a book containing a collection of Psalms), with 135 folios (ff.) and 1 leaf.

ff. 1 - 6v: Calendar
ff. 7 - 120v: Psalter (begins at Psalm 2:8 “gentes hereditatem…”)
ff. 120v - 132v: Canticles
(Six ferial canticles (Confitebor, Ego dixi, Exultavit cor meum, Cantemus domino, Domine audivi, Audite celi), Te deum, Benedicite omnia opera, New Testament Canticles (Benedictus deus israhel, Magnificat, Nunc dimittis), Athanasian creed (Quicumque vult salvus))
ff. 132v - 135v: Litany and prayers
rear flyleaf: leaf (first half of twelfth century) from a Latin grammatical text

1 column of 19 text lines in Latin. Writing lines blind or light brown plummet.

Lacking single leaves after ff. 6, 23, 34, 44 (two leaves), 54, 67, 79, and 92 (the leaves beginning major Psalter divisions at Psalms 1, 26, 38, 52, 68, 80, 97, and 109, all of which presumably were decorated with 10-line initials as on f. 81). Catchwords lower center, last verso of most quires. Contemporary Roman foliation partially preserved in upper right rectos.

Written in an early Gothic script in brown ink with red rubrics. One initial only (of ten), on f. 81: 10-line foliate initial in blue with vine infill in colors on gold leaf background in red and white frame, for Psalm 101. Psalm initials alternate 2- and 3-line red with blue, blue with red and/or green.

Written in Germany, probably at the Benedictine Abbey of St. Martin in Trier. The calendar includes many German saints, among them St. Valerus, Bishop of Trier (29 Jan.), St. Quirinus (also of especial import in Trier), Paulinus, Bishop of Noyon (22 June), Leodegarius (2 Oct.), and Pirminius, Bishop of Trier (3 November). In addition to evangelists, apostles, and Marian feasts, only two Saints are given in red: St. Nicholas (6 December) and St. Martin. The devotion to St. Martin may indicate that the manuscript was produced at the abbey of St. Martin in Trier. The calendar was originally written for Benedictine use, but in the fourteenth century Augustinian feasts were added (e.g. Translation of “our blessed father” St. Augustine on 28 February). Of note in the litany are Leodegarius and Pelagia.


By 1913, Dr. Denman Waldo Ross (1853-1935), Cambridge, MA [see note 1]; 1917, gift of Dr. Denman Waldo Ross. (Accession date: February 15, 1917)

[1] From 1913 until it was accessioned, this manuscript was on loan to the MFA from Dr. Denman Waldo Ross.

Credit Line

Denman Waldo Ross Collection