Vallambrosan Rituale

Rituale vall'Umbrose

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

Place of Manufacture: Santa Maria di Vall'ambrosa, Europe, Italy, Tuscany


Overall (page dimensions): 25.5 x 18.8 cm (10 1/16 x 7 3/8 in.) Overall (writing space): 24.5 x 17.7 cm (9 5/8 x 6 15/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Tempera, ink, and pencil (modern) with gold on parchment; bindings of blind-stamped- and -rolled calf over bevelled wooden boards with gilding and metal

Not On View





A ritual (a book containing the prayers and formulae for the administration of all the sacraments) for the use of the Benedictine Order of Vall’ambrosa, composed of 3 leaves and 75 folios (ff.):

ff. 1 - 30v: [Benediction, profession, and consecration of novice nuns, including a litany on ff. 8 - 9v]
ff. 31 - 49: Pontificale
ff. 49 - 59: Ordo a visitanda monasteria
ff. 59 - 68v: Breviary (temporale only, but including St. John Gualbert)
ff. 68v - 75v: [Benediction, profession, and consecration of novice monks, including a litany on ff. 74 - 75v]

1 column of 21 text lines in Latin or 6 lines of music. Bounding lines brown plummet, full-length to top and bottom edges, writing lines brown plummet. Square, heightened stemmatic notation on 3 or 4 lines, C-clef indicated.

Final leaf cancelled. Vertical catchwords, lower right corner of last verso of each quire. Partially foliated in pencil with modern arabic numerals.

Written in a Rotunda script in brown ink with red rubrics. Two historiated initials: f. 1: 7-line initial historiated with nimbed Christ (as King David?) playing a psaltery, fortified structure in background, within foliate [B] in colors in gold frame, scrolling flowers and acanthus full-length along outer margin; f. 63: 5-line initial historiated with St. John Gualbert, nimbed, holding book and tau cross, in brown Benedictine habit, within a foliate [D] as on f. 1, small border into side and lower margins. f. 31: 9-line foliate [P] in colors with full-length outer border as on f. 1. Ten three-line gold initials on blue and green backgrounds with white filigree, small scrolling floral border with gold berries into margin. Two-line initials throughout in red with purple filigree or blue with red.

Arms of Bishop Rinaldo Orsini of Florence (Bishop 1474-1508) in lower margin of f. 1: upper right half is the di Carli arms (Rinaldo’s mother was Maddalena di Carlo Orsini): lion rampant a sinistre (lion should be holding a cross, but the arms are too rubbed to ascertain); lower left half is the Orsini arms, alternating six stripes of red and white.

A ritual for the use of the Benedictine Order of Vall’ambrosa, founded by St. John Gualbert in 1038. The litanies on ff. 8 - 9v and 74 - 75v include St. John Gualbert, and his is the only sanctorale office in the breviary section of the manuscript.


Between 1479-1508, probably written at Santa Maria di Vall'ambrosa, near Florence, Italy [see note 1]. By 1979, Aimée and Rosamond Lamb, Boston, MA; gift of Aimée and Rosamond Lamb. (Accession date: October 17, 1979)

[1] Probably written at Santa Maria di Vall'ambrosa, approximately 20 miles east of Florence, between 1479-1508. The overlap of the abbacy of Biagio Milanesi (abb. 1479-1523), who is mentioned in the professions, and the Florentine Episcopacy of Rinaldo Orsini (bishop 1474-1508), whose arms are on f. 1.

Credit Line

Gift of Miss Aimée and Miss Rosamond Lamb