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

MS. Buchanan g. 4


Private prayers and devotions (perhaps an imperfect Book of Hours)
Language(s): Latin and Italian

[Items 1–2 originally occupied quires II-III; the start of item 1 was later copied onto the added quire I]

(fols. 2r-15r)

The Seven Penitential Psalms

Fol. 1r-v ruled, otherwise originally blank; fol. 2 is a supply leaf containing Ps. 6:1–6 (to '... inferno autem ||'; see also under Decoration)

(fols. 15r-24v)

Litany and collects

The litany with 'Sancte pater' Benedict (1), Placidus (6), and Romuald ('Romuade') (8) among eight monks, hermits, priests, and deacons; followed (fols. 22r-24v) by the usual ten collects (listed under MS. Buchanan e. 5), the fifth mentioning '... famulo tuo .N. ...'; fols. 25r-26v ruled, otherwise blank.

[Items 3–13 originally occupied the present quires IV-VIII; the start of item 3 was later copied onto the last leaf of quire III]

(fols. 27r-51v)

Office of the Dead

Omitting Vespers, and thus beginning at Matins, with only three lessons, corresponding to those of the Use of Rome; the first leaf is a supply leaf containing Ps. 94:1–59 (to '... adoremus. Quoniam ||'; see also under Decoration)

(fols. 52r-53r, rubric on fol. 51v)

The Verses of St. Bernard

Language(s): Latin
Rubric: Isti sunt uersibus[sic] sancti bernardi abbatis. O bone ihesu:-
Incipit: Illumina oculos meos

The verses in the same order as in MS. Buchanan e. 9, fols. 118v-119r (q.v.) followed by a versicle, response, and (fol. 53r) the usual prayer, here incorporating the name of the original owner:

Incipit: Omnipotens sempiterne deus qui ezechie regi iude ... concede mihi indignum famulum tuum. iohannem.
Explicit: misericordiam consequi merear. Per ...
(fols. 53v-54r)

Indulgenced prayer, here attributed to Pope Innocent [III (1198–1216)?]

Rubric: Innocentius papa concessit omni dicenti semel in die istam orationem. indulgentiam omnium peccatorum suorum
Incipit: Deus qui uoluisti pro salute mundi ... [masculine forms]
Explicit: perduxisti latronem crucifixum. Qui uiuis
(cf. Leroquais, Livres d'heures, II, 344; Wordsworth, Horae Eboracenses, 83; de la Mare, Lyell cat., 64 item e, where it is attributed to Boniface IV).
Language(s): Latin
(fols. 54v-56r)

Prayer to be said before Communion

Rubric: Oratio deuota dicenda ante comunionem
Incipit: Domine yhesu christe qui dixisti. qui manducat meam carnem et bibit meum sanguinem. ... [masculine forms]
Explicit: Ubi te semper uideam. cum deo patre et spiritu sancto in secula seculorum. Amen.
Language(s): Latin
(fols. 56r-57r)

Prayer to be said after Communion, carrying an indulgence of Pope Boniface

Rubric: papa bonifatius concessit omni dicenti post perceptionem corporis christi indulgentiam .xl.ª dierum
Incipit: Gratias tibi ago domine sancte pater qui me famulum tuum nullis mentis
Explicit: et sempiternum gaudium. Per eundem christum ...
Language(s): Latin
(fol. 57r-v)

Hymn, here attributed to St. Bernard

Rubric: Beatus bernardus conposuit infrascriptam orationem. affirmans quicumque eam flexis genibus dixerit omnibus diebus uite sue numquam in peccatis morietur. oratio
Incipit: Ave caro christi cara. inmolata crucis ara. pro redemptis hostia. Morte tua nos amata.
Explicit: pater misericordiarum. Amen.
(Chevalier 1710).
Language(s): Latin
(fols. 58r-60r, rubric on fols. 57v-58r)

Prayer, here attributed to St. Augustine

Rubric: Oratio sancti augustini ualde utilis et deuota. Quicumque eam dixerit semel in die non peribit in igne. ... Et si quid iustum petierit a deo i[m]petrabit. oratio
Incipit: Deus propitius esto mihi peccatori et custos omnibus diebus uite mee.
Explicit: ad tuam sanctam gratiam facias peruenire. Amen.
(a shorter version is pr. in Wordsworth, op. cit., 125)
Language(s): Latin
(fols. 60v-61r, rubric on fol. 60r-v)

Prayer in Italian, here attributed to St. Augustine

Rubric: Questa oratione fece sancto augustino laquale e molto utile et deuota. Incipit
Incipit: Signor rodio mio misericordia mia refugio mio et desiderio mio atte rifuggo
Explicit: raccomando lo spirito mio. Amen.
Language(s): Italian
(fols. 61v-62r, rubric on fol. 61r)

Prayer to one's guardian angel

Rubric: Oratio ad proprium angelum
Incipit: Superne curie ciuis angele sancte. qui fragilis uite mee deputatus es custos
Explicit: et presenta eam in uitam eternam. Amen.
Language(s): Latin
(fol. 62r-v)

Commemoration of the archangel Raphael

Rubric: Conmemoratio beati raphaelis archangeli. antiphona
Incipit: Angelum nobis medicum salutis
Language(s): Latin

with versicle, response, and the prayer

Incipit: Deus qui raphaelem archangelum thobie famulo tuo properanti preuium direxisti.
Explicit: .LAUS DEO.
(pr. J. Lemarié, 'Textes relatifs au culte de l'archange et des anges dans les bréviaires manuscrits du Mont-Saint-Michel', Sacris Erudiri 13 (1962), 113–52, at 141)
Language(s): Latin

fol. 63r ruled, otherwise originally blank; fol. 63v originally blank.

(fol. 63r-v)
(?) Pen trials, of uncertain date; inscribed: 'mapilon' or 'mopilon' at the start of the top line of fol. 63r, and '[T]ota die' at the top of the verso.

Physical Description

Secundo Folio: quis confitebitur
Form: codex
Support: Parchment.
Extent: i (modern paper, conjoint with the pastedown) + 63 + i (modern paper, conjoint with the pastedown).
Dimensions (leaf): 93–4 × 67–8 mm.
Dimensions (ruled): 54–5 × 35–6 mm.
Dimensions (written): 52–3 × 34–7 mm.
Foliation: Foliated in modern pencil: i, 1–64.


Mostly in quires of 10 leaves: I2 (fols. 1–2) | II10–1 (1st leaf excised, leaving a stub before fol. 3) (fols. 3–11), III10 (fols. 12–21), IV6 (fols. 22–27) | V10–1 (1st leaf excised, leaving a stub before fol. 28) (fols. 28–36), VI-VII10 (fols. 37–56), VIII8–1 (with the stub of an excised leaf after fol. 58) (fols. 57–63)-the structure of the final quire is rather complicated, see the Note below. Each of the two main original scribes (see under Script) used a different system of CATCHWORDS: (i) written sideways vertically downwards, on the inner vertical bounding line, between a pair of dots (fols. 11v and 21v); (ii) written horizontally in the centre of the lower margin, surrounded by four short wavy lines (fols. 36v, 46v, and 56v). The rather tight and fragile binding makes for some uncertainty. The stub before fol. 59 has traces of pen-flourishing on its recto which correspond to the pen-flourishing of the initial on fol. 58; it therefore seems likely that what is now the stub was originally the second leaf of the quire, and that this was cancelled after it had been written and decorated; the text was then re-written on the conjugate half of the same bifolium (which would have been the ruled but otherwise blank penultimate leaf of the quire), and bound in its present position, as fol. 58. Another anomaly is the offset of purple penwork decoration in the gutter [sic] margin of fol. 47r, with no such decoration on the facing page, and no loss of a leaf: to produce an offset here, another leaf/quire must presumably have been laid head-to-tail on top of this one by the pen-flourisher before binding, and while the ink was still wet.


14 lines ruled in very pale brown ink, sometimes almost invisible, between single vertical bounding lines extending the full height of the page; single PRICKINGS visible, often a Y-shaped puncture, in the fore-edge margin c.4 mm. below the bottom ruled line. 13 lines of text per page


Written in gothic bookhands by three scribes: (i) fols. 3r-24v; (ii) fols. 28r-62v (using a distinctive signe-de-renvoie to supply an omission, fol. 43v); and (iii) fols. 2r-v, and 27r-v (i.e. the supply leaves; somewhat clumsy, and perhaps artificial-see e.g. the unusual abbreviation 'do(m)ine' on fol. 2r).


Each scribe was responsible for his own headings, in red.

Two historiated initials (9- and 7-line) on inserted leaves, perhaps late 15th century, or later, each on a square gold field with foliate tendrils extending into the margins:

  • (fol. 2r) Penitential Psalms. Initial D[omine]: a group of buildings (perhaps a monastery?), including a circular tower with three storeys, on top of which is a cross and pennant.
  • (fol. 27r) Office of the Dead. Initial U[enite] (but shaped more like an 'O' or 'D'): group of buildings, similar in some details to those on fol. 2r.

Two-line initials, alternately in blue with red penwork or red with purple penwork, the penwork extending almost the full height of the page, at the start of psalms, collects, lessons, etc.; one-line initials alternately in red or blue, at the start of verses and other minor textual divisions.


Sewn on two cords; bound in 17th/18th?-century brown leather over pasteboards; with a double gilt fillet framing the covers (largely obscured), five (or six?) similar horizontal double fillets dividing the spine (largely obscured); each cover with an applied panel of 19th-century enamelled glass (the upper panel badly cracked) with a semée of gold stars on a deep blue ground, and with gold and silver oak-leaf motifs around the edges; these panels each with an openwork gilt metal framing (originally attached with a nail in each corner; three of the nails on the upper cover are now detached) in the form of branches, foliage, flowers, and fruit(?); with a silver(?) clasp (fastening from bottom to top); the spine with a convex gilt metal panel (damaged and repaired) with fleurs-de-lis and scrolls in relief, attached with a nail at each corner; yellow wove paper flyleaves conjoint with the pastedowns; fol. 63 apparently the pastedown of a previous binding; the edges of the leaves gilt; boxed.


Origin: Italian ; 15th century, second half

Provenance and Acquisition

Made for an Italian-speaker named Giovanni/Iohannes (see text items 4 and 10); it is probable that the manuscript is the second half of a Book of Hours.

Unidentified owner: there is an erased ownership(?) inscription at the upper edge of fol. 1r, not legible even under UV light, probably added after the binding, since it appears to be offset onto the flyleaf, fol. i verso.

Thomas Arthur / William Ridler, London booksellers; inscribed in pencil on the upper pastedown with their characteristic price and pricecode: '£10–18-0' (the '10' altered from '11'), upper centre, with their price-code 'm/sd/-' (i.e. £8 15s), at the centre fore-edge, sloping upwards (cf. MSS. Buchanan b. 1 and d. 1).

Rt. Hon. T. R. Buchanan (1846–1911), probably bought from Arthur or Ridler after 1874)

Given to the Bodleian in 1941 by his widow, Mrs. E. O. Buchanan.

Record Sources

Adapted from Peter Kidd, Medieval Manuscripts from the Collection of T. R. Buchanan in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (Oxford, 2001)


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Microfilm available in the open shelf collections in the Weston Library (R. Films 101)


    Printed descriptions:

    S. J. P. van Dijk, Latin Liturgical Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, vol. 4: Books of Hours (typescript, 1957), p. 332

Last Substantive Revision

2017-07-01: First online publication.