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

MS. Canon. Pat. Lat. 172

Summary Catalogue no.: 19158

Origen, Homiles on Numbers, etc.; southern Germany, 12th century


(fols. 1-188)
Origen, Homilies on Numbers (tr. Rufinus)
(fol. 1r–v)

Rufinus’s Preface

Rubric: Incipit prefatio … Adamanti in librum Numerorum

(The original name erased, replaced in brown ink with ‘Hieronimi(?)’, and subsequently overwritten with ‘Origenis’)

Incipit: Ut verbis tibi frater beati martyris loquar bene admones Donate karissime
Explicit: operis nostri in profectu legentium ponat
ed. W. A. Baehrens, Origenes Werke, 7: Homilien zum Hexateuch in Rufins Übersetzung, 2: Die Homilien zu Numeri, Josua und Judices, Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte, 30 (Leipzig, 1921), pp. 1–2. Stegmüller, Bibl. 6178
(fols. 1v–2v)

Capitula list

Rubric: Incipiunt capitula. Primum
Incipit: De principio numerorum
Explicit: xxvi. Quę sit terrę sanctę descriptio terminorumque eius & finium quod describit dominus
Final rubric: Expliciunt capitula

Only 26 numbered items due to the fact that one title is skipped between ‘xvii De prophetia eiusdem [Balaam] tercia’ and ‘xviii De visione .v. Balaam’.

(fols. 2v–170r)

Homilies 1–26

Rubric: Incipit expositio Origenis in librum Numeri
Incipit: Divinis numeris non omnes digni sunt
Explicit: Ad cuius nos hereditatem perducere dignetur dux et dominus noster Ihesus Christus cui est gloria in secula seculorum amen

The first 12 homilies with added running headers ‘om prima’, ‘o ii’, ‘o iii’ etc., ‘o. xxiiii’.

Homily 8 ends on a half-sheet, blank on the verso; Homily 9 begins on a new leaf (fol. 38r).

Baehrens, op. cit. 3–255; Stegmüller, ibid.

(fol. 170v)
(Added) Noted sequence for St. Nicolas of Myrna
Incipit: Laus et gloria deo sit in secula. Qui nobis Nicolaum tradidit sanctum praesulem
Explicit: Antistes Nicolaus electus

With staveless neumes.

CANTUS ah53197 pr. Analecta hymnica, liii (1911), pp. 318–19 no. 197, citing 7 MSS. of which 5 are collated, including the present one (siglum ‘B’).

Added by a different scribe to the blank last page of a larger-than-normal quire; Homily 27 starts on a new quire.

(fols. 171r–188r)

Homilies 27–28

Rubric: Que sit terrę sanctę descriptio terminorumque eius & finium quod describit dominus
Incipit: Cum conderet deus mundum innumeras creavit ciborum differentias
Explicit: etiam capilli capitis numerati sunt. Per eum cui est gloria in secula seculorum Amen.

Homily 27 with divisions numbered ii–xxxiiii; Homily 28 runs on from it, with only a small initial, as section ‘xxxv’.

ed. Baehrens, op. cit., pp. 255–85.

These homilies are treated as separate on the label on the front cover; in the edition they are titled ‘De mansionibus filiorum Israel’ and ‘Quae sit terrae sanctae descriptio terminorumque eius et finium’, yet in the manuscript the title of the second is given to the first, and the second has no title.

The lower half of fol. 188 excised; fol. 188v blank.

Language(s): Latin

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment; occasional holes and repairs within the text area
Extent: 1 (medieval parchment; lifted pastedown) + 189 (not including fol. 37b) + 1 (medieval parchment; lifted pastedown)
Dimensions (leaf): 275 × 180 mm.
Foliation: i, 1–37a, 37b-189, in 20th-century pencil (fols. 37a, 37b (re)foliated May 2021).


fols. 1–170: 1–4(8), 5(8 + a half leaf inserted after fol. 37a), 6–20(8), 21(8+2) (fols. 169-70, a bifolium, added at the end of the quire); fols. 171–188: 22–23(8), 24(2); quire signatures on the first recto of each quire except the last two, .I.–.XXII., once in red (fol. 105r), usually within a plain rectangle, once in an elaborate framing (fol. 41r).


Ruled in blind for 27 lines per page. Ruled space 205 × 120 mm.


Pregothic bookhand, apparently mostly by a single hand (despite the division into two codicological units), with sometimes-extensive corrections by other hands, e.g. fol. 138r.

Musical Notation:

Diastematic neumes, fol. 170v


Two fine large foliate initials drawn in orange ink introduce the prologue and first homily, 8 and 10 lines tall respectively (fols. 1r, 2v). Not in Pächt and Alexander.

Other homilies with plain red 4-line initials.


Medieval binding: late-medieval brown leather with blind-stamped decoration, on the front: rosette and script (apparently twelve minims) forming a saltire, with leafwork border; the same on the back but with a border of arches; the rosette and script stamps also on the spine. The same stamps attributed by Einbanddatenbank to the 'Halbkreis Ornament' workshop (w002843) [Czech Republic, c. 1474], documented only from Stuttgart, Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Cod. theol. et phil. fol. 17 [recte 27].

Earlier (?) sewing and boards: sewn on three slit bands, laced and pegged into horizontal channels in thick wood boards, square cut, with pink-stained parchment at the inner corners of each board covering the endband lacing. Traces of lost strap-and-pin clasp with leather strap running from back-cover fore-edge to central pin on front, and of four large circular bosses on each cover; late-medieval parchment title-label at upper centre of front cover (cf. MS. Canon. Pat. Lat. 188), inscribed ‘AE’ in red and ‘Omelie Origenis i[n Numer]orum | cum descripcione mansionum filorum Israel’. Added green spine-label and gilt lettering, with minor repairs, 18th century, Italian. 286–288 × c. 178–180 × c. 82 mm. (book closed).


Origin: 12th century ; Germany, south

Provenance and Acquisition

Presumably written for a house with a special veneration for, and perhaps dedicated to, St Nicholas (fol. 170v).

12th–15th-century readers: the main text with frequent ‘Nota’ marks and other annotations, corrections, etc. (e.g. fol. 27r–v), often ‘Cave’ or ‘Caute’.

Unidentified 14th/15th-century German library: the front cover label with shelfmark(?) ‘AE’.

Matteo Luigi Canonici, 1727–1805, Jesuit and bibliophile of Venice; source of acquisition not known (not Soranzo); from whom his manuscripts passed to his brother:

Giuseppe Canonici , -1807, and on the latter’s death to their nephew, Giovanni Perisinotti, from whom over 2,000 were:

Purchased by the Bodleian in 1817

MS. Canon. Pat. Lat. 172 - endleaf (former pastedown) (fol. i)


Language(s): Latin

(fols. i recto)

12th-century and later inscriptions and pen-trials include ‘Origenes’ twice in large bold majuscules, ‘probatio incausti vel pergame[..]’, ‘Incaustum dum penna probat [ … ]’, ‘Ave Maria’, an alphabet, etc.

(fol. i verso)

A rhymed respond

Incipit: [...]etus unio benedicat dominum(?) pari simphoni / [...] Gaude nouo Bethleem inte natu principe / [...]um Ierusalem natum regem suscipe miro partu virginis / …
Explicit: [...]as dulci melodia Gaude

Unidentified. The text is upside-down and extends into the gutter fold, suggesting that the leaf was written before it was bound in the present volume.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: single leaf


Unruled, 6 lines of text and music on verso


Late Caroline formal documentary script

Musical Notation:

Staveless neumes


Origin: 12th century ; Germany

MS. Canon. Pat. Lat. 172 - endleaf (former pastedown) (fol. 189)


(fol. 189r-v)

Waste leaf, with part of the office for Christmastide. Readings include: ‘Legimus in Levitico fratres quia ⟨omne⟩ masculinum adaperiens vulvam sanctum domino vocabitur [Luc. 2:2] …’

Noted chant includes: ‘Invocabit me aevia pater meus es tu aevia Exultabunt omnia lig[na sil]varum ante faciem domini …’

Language(s): Latin

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: fragment (most of a leaf)


Ruled in blind for at least 27 lines per page (the top edge cropped)


Pre-gothic bookhand in two sizes

Musical Notation:

Chant (written in smaller script) with staveless neumes


Spaces for coloured initials


Origin: 12th century ; Germany

Additional Information

Record Sources

Description (May 2021) by Peter Kidd, edited by Matthew Holford. Previously described in the Quarto Catalogue (H. O. Coxe, Catalogi codicum manuscriptorum Bibliothecæ Bodleianæ pars tertia codices Græcos et Latinos Canonicianos complectens, Quarto Catalogues III, 1854).

Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)


    Online resources:

    Printed descriptions:

    B. C. Barker-Benfield, Bookbindings of Canonici manuscripts : a survey of early and non-standard bindings, mostly Italian, in the Canonici collection of the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford (Oxford, privately printed, 2020) [entire binding as 12th(?) century]
    S. J. P. van Dijk, Latin Liturgical Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, vol. 6: Fragments - Office Books, Rituals, Directories (typescript, 1957), p. 157

Last Substantive Revision

2021-05: Description fully revised for Polonsky German project.