A catalogue of Western manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries and selected Oxford colleges

St John's College MS 120

Ambrose, De officiis; Life of Saint George, Latin verse


Language(s): Latin

1. Fols. 1ra–54vb:
Rubric: Incipit liber AMBROSII Mediolanensis Archiepiscopi de Officiis ministrorum
Incipit: Non arrogans uideri arbitror si inter filios suscipiam affectum docendi
Explicit: series tamen uetustatis quodam compendio expressa plurimum instructionis conferat Amen
Ambrose, De officiis

CPL 144, ed. Maurice Testard, Les Dévoirs, 2 vols. (Paris 1984–92). Only six text lines in the last column, the remainder of the folio blank.

2. Fols. 55va–76vb:
Rubric: Incipit prefatio De passione Gloriosj martyris cristi Georgij
Incipit: Gloriosi martyris Georgii passionem uenerandam licet nobis ab antiquis fideli relatione traditam […]
Rubric: [fol. 56ra, the text] Incipit passio Gloriosi martyris Georgij sub daciano Imperatore
Incipit: Imperator dacianus cum in omnes fidei cristiane professores generalem persecutionis acerrime dictaret
Explicit: [fol. 70vb] passionem euis nobis in cunctis necessitatibus salutarem senciamus intercessionem prestante deo et domino nostro [form ending] Amen |
Rubric: [fol. 71ra] Incipiunt lectiones compendiose de passione beati Georgii Martyris excepte Lectio ia.
Incipit: Imperator dacianus cum in omnes fidei cristiane professores generalem persecutiones acerrime
Explicit: in presenti sue perspexerit passionis memores glorie sue faciat in futuro consortes Amen
Life of Saint George

Not in BHL, and no parallels have been found; the Passion is followed by nine lections (ending fol. 76ra) and two further prayers. Fol. 55 is blank.

3. Fols. 77ra–83rb:
Rubric: Incipit Proemium in Tractatum Rithmice compositum de Laude Crucis
Incipit: Ad salutifere crucis signaculum | Diuino munere saluantis seculum
Explicit: Ut ad te ueniam qui fons es uenie | Uisimus gloriam celestis curie Amen
Final rubric: Explicit tractatum [as the opening rubric]
Latin verse

WIC 436; he cites another copy, BL, MS Royal 2 A.ix, fol. 36.

4. Fols. 83va–84vb:
Rubric: Incipit Salutoria oracio ad beatam virginem […]
Incipit: Aue Maria Salue mater misericordie | Fons emanans iugis clemencie
Explicit: Quos ab omni mortis supplicio | Tui uultus absoluat uisio amen
Final rubric: Explicit Oratio Salutatoria de Beata virgine Maria
Latin verse,

? WIC 17116, cited as unique.

5. Fols. 85ra–va:
Rubric: Incipit libellus qui Intitulatur Fauus mellis […]
Incipit: Mellis fauus ministris apibus | E diuersis fit agri floribus
Explicit: crux cristi preuia | Viam parans ad vite gaudia Amen
Final rubric: Explicit Oratio
Latin verse

WIC 10875; there treated as unique and including the next, but both also appear as BodL, MS Bodley 79, fol. 1. Followed by a 4-line prayer ‘Et si fandi desit pericia—Cor loquatur et consciencia’, as well as by a contents table in double columns, fol. 85vb.

6. Fols. 86ra–111ra:
Rubric: Incipit Oracio ad Patrem
Incipit: Pater sancte quem in celis semper esse credimus | Cuius sedes mens fidelis
Explicit: Vt uel pena mitior fiat tormentorum | Vel salus celerior in te saluandorum Amen
Latin verse

WIC 13815 (citing this work separately from item 5, again as unique). A verse litany, including, among others, George, Denis, Blaise, Ædmund, Alban, Oswald, Ædward, Thomas Becket, Cuthbert, Birin, Swithin, Ædward, Guthlac, and Ædburga. Blanks in the contents table correspond to unfilled spaces awaiting text at fols. 98ra, 108va–110vb. Fol. 111rb is blank but ruled, the verso blank.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: scriptum
Form: codex
Support: Vellum (HSOS/HFFH).
Extent: Fols. ii + 111 + i (numbered fol. iii).
Dimensions (leaf): 240 × 160 mm.


1–410 514 [fol. 54, a booklet boundary] | 610+1 (+1) 710+1 (+11) [fol. 76, a booklet boundary] | 88 9–1010 1110 (–8, –9, –10, presumably all blank). There are possible further booklet bounds at fol. 40v, where there is no catchword and book 2 of item 1 ends; and at fol. 84v, the end of item 4. In booklet 1: one catchword under the inner column (fol. 20v); all leaves in the first half of each quire signed, with letters a–e (–g in quire 5). No signatures in quire 3; in red ink except for quire 5 (green ink). In booklet 2: no catchwords; all leaves in the first half of each quire (excepting the supplied leaf fol. 55) signed, the letters a–e in quire 6, roman numerals in red ink in quire 7. In booklet 3: no catchwords or signatures.


In two different double-column formats:

(a) to fol. 76, each column 168–73 × 51–2 mm. , with 13 mm between columns, in 34 lines to the column;

(b) thereafter, each column 178 × 59–61 mm. , with 12 mm between columns, in 43 lines to the column.

Prickings rare, bounded and ruled in brown crayon (first portion) and black ink (second).


The first two booklets (fols. 1–76) written in transitional protogothic bookhand/gothic textura, fols. 55v and 76v perhaps in a second hand; the final booklet in gothic textura semiquadrata (in some places, prescissa), perhaps by more than one scribe. Punctuation by point, punctus elevatus, punctus interrogativus, and occasional double point and punctus flexus (booklets 1–2); and by point and punctus elevatus at line ends (booklet 3).


In early portions (the first quire and text 2 only), red headings and running titles.

Textual sections open with 2-line alternating red and green arabesque initials; on fol. 1, blue and red lombards on flourishing of the other colour.

In the verse, alternate red and gold or red and green arabesque initials at section heads and 1-line examples at the head of each quatrain (other lines have larger pen-and-ink initials).


A modern replacement. Sewn on two thongs. At the front, a modern marbled paper leaf and one modern paper flyleaf; at the rear, another marbled paper leaf (iii).


Origin: s. xii/xiii ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

Iohannes white de Suthwyke in Comitatu Sutht armiger dedit hunc librum Thome white de london militi ad vsum colegij per ipsum de nouo erecti in Oxon’ Anno 1555’ (fol. 1, upper margin).

Record Sources

Ralph Hanna, A descriptive catalogue of the western medieval manuscripts of St. John's College, Oxford (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002)


For enquiries relating to this manuscript please contact St John's College Library.


    Eligius Dekkers and Aemilius Gaar, Clavis patrum latinorum, 3rd edn. (Turnhout, 1995).
    Maurice Testard (ed.), Les Dévoirs, 2 vols. (Paris 1984–92).
    Hans Walther, Initia carminum ac versuum Medii Aevi posterioris Latinorum, 2nd edn (Göttingen, 1969).

Funding of Cataloguing

Conversion of the printed catalogue to TEI funded by the Thompson Family Charitable Trust

Last Substantive Revision

2022-01: First online publication

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