The book was made for a Carmelite friar. It is an extraordinary mixture of styles: the script might be eastern French, even Rhenish; the illumination is entirely French, however, in mainstream Parisian style, and the text includes a number of Parisian features, including prayers to Saint Geneviève (fol.197r), hardly venerated outside the capital; but the Litany includes many west German saints, as well as those of Carmelite use. The simplest explanation would be that a German Carmelite friar was visiting Paris, where the Carmelite convent was in the Place Maubert, and took the chance of ordering or even making a book while there. Additions to the Calendar include Saints Erhard, Kunegund, Heinrich, Boniface, and others, showing that the book was soon back in Germany. The hand that made these additions signed fol.65r, “per xpistum dominum nostrum, C k l, 1500”.
Carmelite Books of Hours are exceedingly rare. Leroquais records none at all. Apparently the only copy ever described in detail is that in the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington, New Zealand, for which see C. de Hamel, ‘A Carmelite Book of Hours’, Turnbull Library Record, n.s., III, 1971, pp.21-23. It is remarkable, then, that the present manuscript also surfaced in Wellington, where it was sold by Dunbar Sloane in Wellington on 18 October 1982, and bought then by the father of the present owner. It is cited in C. de Hamel, ‘Manuscripts in New Zealand’, Migrations, Medieval Manuscripts in New Zealand, ed. S. Hollis and A. Barratt, forthcoming.
The Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was founded in Palestine in the mid-twelfth century, but its founders claimed continuity back to Elijah, Elisha, and other Old Testament prophets and hermits on Carmel, and it counted the Virgin Mary and other leading New Testament figures among its members. Its rule was established by St.Albert, patriarch of Jerusalem, in 1209. It was a mystical and contemplative order of extreme asceticism and total solitude, with a liturgy that was unparalleled in Europe. For the dates of Carmelite feasts, listed below, cf. Leroquais, Bréviaires, I, 1934, pp.cxi-cxii
A Calendar (fol.1r), of Carmelite use, including St.Albert of Jerusalem (7 August, “ordinis nostri”, duplex, feast introduced in 1411), St.Longinus, whose lance pierced Christ’s side (15 March, feast introduced in 1480), St.Joseph (19 March, duplex, also 1480), St.Martial of Limoges (7 July, the Carmelite feast, introduced 1339, rather than the usual 30 June), the 11,000 Virgins (21 October, duplex, also introduced into the Carmelite liturgy in 1339), the Conception of the Virgin as totum duplex (8 December, a Carmelite feast from 1306), etc., and other feasts citing usage in Jerusalem (31 January, 18 March, etc.); Calendar tables (fol.13r), with examples made out for 1474, including lunar and astrological tables; the Hours of the Virgin “secundum ordinem fratrum carmelitarum”, with Matins (fol.20r), Lauds (fol.35r), Prime (fol.43r), Terce (fol.46v), Sext (fol.49r), None (fol.51r), Vespers (fol.53r) and Compline (fol.56v), with the seasonal variants; the Fifteen Psalms of Degree “secundum ordinem fratrum beatissime Marie virginis de monte Carmeli” (fol.61v); the Penitential Psalms (fol.65v) and Litany, including the prophet Elisha (introduced into the Carmelite liturgy in 1399) and Sts.Martial, Kylian, Edmund, Sigismund, Angelus of Jerusalem (a Jewish convert on Mount Carmel in 1203), Albert (Carmelite of Messina, d.1306), and others, with further prayers and forms of confession; rosary prayers (fol.91r); the Psalms of the Passion (fol.97r); many other prayers to the Virgin and Christ, including one worth 80 days’ indulgence granted by Martin V (fol.102r), another by St.Augustine, who performed many miracles (fol.111r), the Joys of the Virgin reputedly composed by St.Thomas Becket (fol.115v), prayers on the relics of the Holy Lance and the Crown of Thorns (fol.117v, the veneration of which were elevated into Carmelite feasts in 1488), the Stabat Mater, said to be worth seven years’ indulgence, as recorded in gold letters in St. Peter’s in Rome (fol.125r), etc.; suffrages to the saints (fol.129r), including Sts.Albert of Jerusalem, Joseph (Carmelite from 1480), Joachim (whose feast was elevated to duplex in the Carmelite Order in 1498), and very many other prayers; the Office of the Dead (fol.189r); prayers to say during the day (fol.198r) and during and after Mass, and many other similar prayers, some with offers of indulgence; and a table of contents (fol.238r).
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