(1) The volume consists of three main parts, containing works relating to St Launomarus (Laumer, Lomer), abbot and confessor, who was born c.530 at Neuville-la-Mare, north of Chartres, where he was ordained; he then retired to solitude in the forest of Perche, where in 575 he founded the monastery of Corbion (Moutier-au-Perche) and became its first abbot; he died in 593 at Chartres and was buried nearby at St-Martin-du-Val; in 595 his relics were moved to Corbion, later to Avranches and Le Mans, and in 874 to Blois, where the Benedictine abbey of St-Laumer was founded in 924. Part of the present manuscript was apparently written c.875, and the rest probably within the next 50 years, all probably at Blois.
(2) DOM NOËL MARS (1612-1702), Benedictine monk and historian, successively procureur at St-Jacut, at Blois, and Landévennec; owned by 1668, with his annotations in the margins, including one referring to the Acta Sanctorum ordinis S. Benedicti, Paris, 1668, in which a footnote states ‘Haec ex MS. Historia S. Launomari Monasterii Blesensis a nostro Natale Mars erudite composite didicimus’ (p.338 note ‘a’).
(3) LOUIS DE LA SAUSSAYE (1801-78), local historian, archaeologist, and numismatist, of the Château de Troussay, near Blois; A. Dupré, Histoire du royal monastère de Sainct-Lomer de Blois, 1869, p.7 n.2, cf. p.66 n.2, mentions ‘un manuscrit du Xe siècle, dont M. de la Saussaye garde un fragment précieux’; his sale, 30 September 1887, lot 1148.
I: An original blank flyleaf has two main items added on the verso: (a) Alcuin of York (d.804), Carmina 58, ‘Conflictus veris et hiemis’, in 55 lines of hexameter verse, ‘Conveniunt subito cuncti de montibus altis / … / Salve dulce decus cuculus per secula salva’; (b) 13 lines of text and music, consisting of 4 antiphons in honour of St Laumer: ‘Angelorum consortia quereris sanctus Lanomarus …’, ‘Gloriosus vir dei Launomarum …’, ‘In civitate Carnotum …’, and ‘Ecce homo qui toto corde dominum dilexit …’.
II: (a) The Translations and Miracles of St Laumer, consisting of a semi-legible rubric: ‘Incipit qualiter sacrum corpus beati Launomari ... Carnotensi ad monasterio Corbionensi …’; a prologue ‘Laus dei est preclara sanctorum miracula …’ (f.2r-v); and main text ‘Postquam enim sanctus Launomarus stelligerum aeternae iocunditatis thronum … iusto dei examine invitus spiritum reddidit’ (Bibliotheca hagiographica latina, no.4737; contrary to which
THE TEXT APPEARS NEVER TO HAVE BEEN PRINTED
and the online BHL Manuscripta database records only two manuscripts, both of the 13th century) (ff.2v-9r); (b) followed (f.9r) by 5 lines of text and music ‘Tu es vas electionis beate Paule doctor … quia fideliter certasti in conspectus dei’.
III: (a) The end of a Life of St Laumer: ‘|| familiariter credebat. Erat item quaedem materfamilias nobilitatis titulo praeclara nomine Vulfrada … ubi etiam beatus Leubinus … pontifex humatus est. Explicit vita beati Launomari confessoris atque abbatis’ (ff.1r-3r) [BHL no.4734]; (b) The Translation of St Laumer in A.D. 872 and subsequent miracles, with a rubric: ‘Pauca de miraculis quae dominus per beatum Launomarum nostris temporibus operari dignatus est’, ‘Anno ab incarnatione domini nostri Ihesu Christi dccclxxii cum iam peccatorum nostrorum magnitudine … in caelestis festis angelorum. Adiuvante domino nostro Ihesu Christo … per infinita saecula saeculorum amen.’ (ff.3r-6v) [BHL no.4739]; followed (f.6v) by ten lines of notes signed by ‘Frater Natali Mars'.
The oldest extant copy of the Life is a fragment of a manuscript in a miscellaneous volume, put together in the 17th century, at the Vatican Library (Reg.Lat.479, ff.1-9v); it was apparently written at a monastery dedicated to the saint because it begins 'Incipit vita patroni nostri beati Launomari'. André Wilmart attributed it to Corbion and dated it to the mid-9th century (Codices reginenses latini, 1937, pp.651-2; the date is accepted by J.-C. Poulin, 'Les libelli dans l'édition hagiographique avant le XIIe siècle', Francia, 63 (2006), p.113). It is incomplete at the end; it breaks off a precisely the point in the text where the present copy begins;
THIS IS THEREFORE THE LONG-LOST MISSING PORTION OF THE VATICAN MANUSCRIPT, AND THE OLDEST WITNESS TO THE TEXT.
Wilmart's date must be too early however, as the present manuscript includes the translation in 872 to Parigny, near Avranches. It does not include the subsequent translation to Blois in 874, however, which suggests it was certainly composed, and probably written, between these two events, or at least before the later text (BHL no.4737) recording the translation to Blois had been composed. It could be that section II of the manuscript, which includes the Blois translation, was specifically written to supplement the older section III.
The texts have been studied in detail by J.-F. Honet, 'Les Saints du pays de Chartres: Légendes et culte liturgique du VIIIe au XVe siècle' (unpublished thesis, Louvain, 1996), especially pp.73-89. Apart from the Vatican manuscript, the earliest known to him were two 10th-century copies (Chartres, BM, ms.193, and Brussels, BR, ms.8550-51), and one of the 10th-11th century (Paris, BnF, ms.lat.3784).
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