Skip to main content

Book of Hours (Use of Rome) , c 1503

Identifier: MS 38

Scope and Contents

Book of Hours in Latin from the 16th century, of Italian provenance. The Use is that of Rome. It was probably copied in Bologna and the Kalendar also seems to support this origin (see local saints reported).

The scribe has written the Greek word telos ('end') at the end of the Hours of the Virgin (f. 119v), Penitential Psalms (f. 122v) and Office of the Dead (f. 201v).

Kalendar: starts on f. 1r. Contains commemorations of Saints and Martyr, and other festivities (the most important are written in golden letters).

20 May: Saint Bernardinus Confessor (Saint Bernardine of Siena, Franciscan friar and itinerant preacher; in gold); 4 October: Saint Petronius (Bishop of Bologna; in gold); 10 October: Saint Cerbonus Bishop and Confessor (Saint Cerbonius, Bishop of Verona); 28 November: Saint Prosper (Bishop of Reggio Emilia).

Hours of the Virgin: start on f. 13r. They are divided in: Matins (ff. 13r-36v), Laudes (ff. 36r-50r recited upon rising together with 'Matins'), Prime (ff. 50v-56r; the first hour, around 6 A.M.), Terce (ff. 56v-61v; the third hour, around 9 A.M.), Sext (ff. 62r-67r; the sixth hour, around noon), None (ff. 67r-72v; the ninth hour, around 3 P.M.), Vespers (ff. 72v-81v; evening), Compline (ff. 81v-88v; recited before retiring to bed).

Hours of the Virgin in Advent: start on f. 89r. It is introduced by the golden words Incipit officium beate marie verginis de adventu usque ad nativitatem domini. It is divided in: Matins (ff. 89r-97r), Laudes (97r-102v), Prime (ff. 102v-103v), Terce (ff. 103v-104r), Sext (ff. 104r-105r), None (ff. 105r-105v), Vespers (ff. 105v-108r), Compline (ff. 108v-109v).

Hours of the Virgin from Christmas to Purification:: start on f. 110r. It is introduced by the golden words Officium beate marie virginis a vespris vigilie nativitati domini usque ad purificationem dicitur sicut ante adventum. It contains a few difference from the service of the normal time and is divided in: Matins (f. 110r), Laudes (ff. 110r-112v), Prime (ff. 112v-114r), Sext (ff. 114v-115r), None (ff. 115r-115v), Vespers (ff. 116r-118r), Compline (ff. 118r-119v).

Mass of the Virgin:: starts on f. 120r.It contains prayers and texts that would be recited or sung during the Mass. It is introduced by the golden words Incipit missa beate marie virginis.

Penitential Psalms: start on f. 123r. The seven Psalms (6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, and 142) are particularly connected to King David, who allegedly composed them as an atonement for his sins (David therefore is normally represented at the beginning, as in this case). They are introduced by the golden words Incipiunt septem psalmi penitentiales cum letanijs et orationibus.

Litany: starts on f. 136v. It consists in the hypnotic invocation of a list of saints; each invocation is followed by the answer Ora pro nobis (with the plural variation Orate when more than one saint is invoked). The list begins with Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison ('Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy'). It is followed by prayers and psalms.

It contains invocations to Saint Petronius and Saint Prosper, thus confirming the provenance already suggested by the Kalendar.

Office of the Dead: starts on f. 149r. This office was intended as an intercession on behalf of the dead, in order to help them to reduce their term in Purgatory. A series of readings for this office are taken from the Book of Job and the sufferings of Job became an allegory for the trials endured by the penitent souls in Purgatory. It is introduced by the golden words Incipit officium mortuorum.

Hours of the Cross: start on f. 202r. They are introduced by the golden words Incipit officum sanctissime crucis. They are divided in: Matins (ff. 202r-203v), Prime (ff. 203v-204r), Terce (f. 204r) Sext (f. 204r-204v), None (ff. 204v-205r), Vespers (f. 205r-205v), Compline (ff. 205v-206r recited before retiring to bed).

Hours of the Holy Spirit: start on f. 207r. They are divided in: Matins (ff. 207r-208r), Prime (f. 208r-208v), Terce (f. 208v-209r), Sext (f. 209r), None (f. 209r-209v), Vespers (ff. 209v-210r), Compline (f. 210r-210v).


A very finely written manuscript in a distinctive round hand with certain characteristic letters, the rubrics being in dull gold.


The verse initials, plain Roman capitals in dull gold on square grounds of blue, red, or green, arc exceedingly effective. Psalm initials are similar but larger, and on alternate red and blue grounds with white tracery. Sectional initials occupy from five to seven lines ; are of dull gold enclosed within a double square frame of red, green, or blue, outlined in gold, and are either floriated in the centre with conventional or natural flowers, or historiated. All the initials are enclosed within regular arabesque borders in Renaissance style.

Historiated initials:

  1. Hours of the Virgin (f. 13r) – Within initial D, which is of lake on gold ground, Virgin and Child, landscape background. Manzoli arms in border.
  2. Penitential Psalms (f. 123r) – Similar initial, and within it David seated, playing on his harp. Landscape background.
  3. Office of the Dead (f. 149r) – Within a gold initial on a red and gold scroll ground, a skull lying on grass, blue sky behind. Border with skulls, arabesques, etc., on black ground.
  4. Hours of the Cross (f. 202r) – Initial, gold, on a red and gold scroll ground within a green frame. Within it a gold cross on a green hill stands out against the sky.
  5. Hours of the Holy Spirit (f. 207r) – Initial, gold, on a red and gold scroll ground within a blue frame. Within it a dove, against the sky, nimbed and rayed, flames rising towards it from below.


  • Creation: c 1503


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to all. The manuscripts can be consulted in the Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University Main Library.


1 bound MS volume

Custodial History

The hand is an unusual one, and, though the manuscript is unsigned, comparison with a signed manuscript in the possession of Mr. Sydney Carlyle Cockerell shows that it was apparently written by Petrus Antonius Salandus of Reggio, who worked at Bologna (see the Catalogue of Burlington Exhibition of Illuminated Manuscripts. London, 1908, n. 263).

The coat of arms in the first border is that of the Manzoli family of Bologna: barry of four argent and sable a chief gules. This is the same family for whom Mr. Cockerell's manuscript was also written (see Pompeo Scipione Dolfi. Cronologia delle famiglie nobili di Bologna. Bologna, 1670, p. 510-518).

Mr. Cockerell's manuscript is dated to December 1496; it is, if anything, more carefully written than this book, and is probably of earlier date. Internal evidence as to the date of this manuscript, on the other hand, is found in a collect (i.e. a short prayer used in liturgy) following the Litany: Omnipotens sempiterne Deus miserere famulo tuo papae nostro .I. (f. 146r).This might refer either to Pope Innocent VIII(1484-92) or to Pope Julius II (1503-13). On the whole, the later reference seems to be the more likely from the appearance of the book.

There are some later indications of ownership. An inscription on the fly-leaf: Catalogue de Mr de Macarti au No. 106 page [...] vendu [. . .] il contient 16 miniatures. This would suggest that the manuscript belonged to the MacCarthy Reagh Collection, but in the Catalogue of this Library n. 106 refers to an entirely different book. Mr. Cockerell thinks it is probably a MacCarthy binding. Two pencil entries, probably made by Laing, are found on the fly-leaf, 1200 and £25 (v. lowest).

Previous reference

Laing 13


Wardrop, J. (1946), 'Pierantonio Sallando and Girolamo Pagliaroto scribes to Giovanni II Bentivoglio: a study in later development of humanistic scripts', Signature n.s. 2, 4-30 (fig. 11 is a facsimile of f. 184r).

Physical Facet

Material: Vellum

Binding: French morocco, gold tooling, lettered Officium Beatae Mar. Virginis s. Velin avec miniatur (probably a MacCarthy binding).

Collation: a12, b10-v10, x8 (wants 9 and 10) = 210. Folios 24 and 25, and 30 and 31 have been transposed in binding.


15.24 cm x 11.11 cm


Secundo folio: (text) laus tibi.

Foliation and number of lines to a page: ff. 210, 13 lines to a page. There at least two different foliations in the margins, three at times.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379