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

MS. Auct. D. 1. 20

Summary Catalogue no.: 28474

The Mayence/Mainz Sacramentary

Sacramentary (the 'Mainz' or 'St Gall Sacramentary'); Switzerland or Germany, area of Lake Constance (?St Gall or ?Reichenau), 9th century, middle or third quarter


Language(s): Latin

Gregorian fused Sacramentary, Benedictine Use

Fols. i r-v, ii r-v blank. Fol. iii is a fragment of an inserted leaf (19th century) containing a short dealer's description of the manuscript, closely related to the description in the catalogue of the 1840 Sotheby's sale (see Provenance below). Fol 1r-v blank; fol. 2r blank except for later addition (see Provenance).

1. (fols. 2v-18r)

Episcopal blessings, beginning with Christmas and divided into temporale, sanctorale and common. Deshusses Sp 1738–1789.

2. (fols. 18v-29r)

Calendar, entitled 'martyrologium per circulum anni'; some tenth-century (?) additions. Printed by Sirka Heyne, Studien zur Mainzer und Fuldaer Liturgiegeschichte (1996), 27–34, without distinguishing additions.

3. (fols. 30r-31v)

Exultet without notation: Deshusses Sp 1021, 1022a, 1022c.

Fols. 32r-34r blank.

4. (fols. 34v-133v)

Sacramentary: combined temporale and sanctorale without the ordinary Sundays. Deshusses Ha 1–832.

5. (fols. 133v-161v)

Votive masses, among which two masses for the ordination of a priest, and two series of masses for each day of the week (fol. 136), in the first series the masses are complete with introits, epistles, gospels and blessings. Deshusses Tc 16, 1, 3, 109, 14, 105, 9, 10, 67–73, 48, 172, 179, 154, 116, 112, 131, 133, 197, 126, 120, 136, 185, 63, 60, 74, 203, 109.

6. (fols. 161v-162v)
Rubric: Reconciliatio paenitentis ad mortem

Deshusses Tc 422

Rubric: Oratio super defunctum vel commentaione animae

Deshusses Tc 444

7. (fols. 162v-166r)

Votive masses: Deshusses Tc 245, 258, 243, 247, 228, 230.

8. (fols. 166r-172r)

Sacramentary: Deshusses Ha 980–1018.

9. (fols. 172r-173r)

Blessings: Deshusses Tc 4316, 4371, 4372, 4358, 4359, 4326, 4327.

10. (fols. 173r-174r)

Exorcisms: Deshusses Sp CXLIII-CXLV.

11. (fols. 174r-v)

Benedictio super ramos: Deshusses Tc 4328, 4329, 4330.

12. (fols. 174v-176r)

Anniversary of the dedication: Deshusses Tc 459, 457.

13. (fols. 176r-189r)

Sacramentary: Deshusses Ha 833–979.

14. (fols. 189r-200r)

Masses for the Sundays after Christmas, Epiphany, Easter and Pentecost: Deshusses Sp V-XLI.

15. (fol. 200r-209r)

Blessings of salt and holy water (Deshusses Tc 487); five other votive Masses (fol. 203) (Deshusses Tc 269, 276, 49, 162, 128). Fol. 209v blank.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: 2 + i + 209 + 1 fol.
Dimensions (leaf): 271 × 238 mm.
Dimensions (written): 178 × 140 mm.


18 long lines


Carolingian minuscule by more than one hand (Bischoff).

Rubrics in rustic capitals.

Musical Notation:

Rhythmical notation of St Gall, added to the preface (fols. 36v, 37)


Important initials. (Pächt and Alexander i. 8, pl. II)

Illuminated initials, coloured initials, rubrics; parts of text in red.

Elaborate initials in red and gold. The introduction to the sacramentary occupies four pages, written in capitals, alternately red and black, each letter filled with gold; the common preface in uncial. Both the introduction and the preface are preceded by a large illuminated capital (I and U); the canon opens with a full-page capital, placed between some text


Red velvet (over earlier leather) over boards, 16th century (?), with ivory triptych attached. The triptych is attributed by Jeremy Warren (unpublished correspondence, May 1996) to the workshop of Baldassare degli Embriachi, Venice, c. 1400.


Origin: 9th century, middle or third quarter ; Switzerland or Germany, area of Lake Constance: St. Gall (?) or Reichenau (?)

Provenance and Acquisition

This manuscript is associated with a group produced in the Lake Constance area around the middle of the ninth century, recently discussed in relation to Cod. Don. 191 by Peter Burkhart, Die Vorromanischen Handschriften Der Wurttembergischen Landesbibliothek Stuttgart (2016). The group includes Vienna, ONB Cod. 1815, with which our manuscript is textually related (see Deshusses, von Euw). The production of the Vienna manuscript has been associated both with St Gall and Reichenau (description by Michael Kautz). Production of the present manuscript at St Gall or by monks of St Gall has been argued on the basis of decoration, neums, the masses for St Gall in the sanctorale, and the presence of SS. Gall (16 Oct.) and Magnus (19. Aug) in the calendar. H. Hoffmann, Schreibschulen und Buchmalerei (2012), 201 seems to argue for a Reichenau origin.

It has frequently been argued that the present manuscript was produced for use at St Alban's, Mainz, since the calendar contains the deposition of St Alban (1 Mar.), the 'Dedicacio ecclesie S. Albani martyris' (1 Dec.), and the feast of SS. Aureus and Justinus (17 June). Deshusses argued that the manuscript was written at or for St Gall, then adapted for use at Mainz by the addition of four quires (fols. 2–33) containing the calendar, blessings and exultet. Watson and Bischoff argued that the manuscript was produced at St Gall but (possibly) intended for use at St Albans. More recently von Euw has raised the possibility that the manuscript was written at Mainz by scribes from St Gall temporarily active there. However, it should be noted that Heyne's detailed study of the calendar established that it was not especially close to other sources from Mainz; that Alban, Aureus, and Justinus were celebrated elsewhere in addition to Mainz; and that the calendar also has parallels with Fulda sources ('recordatio fratrum', 11 Oct., and translation of Boniface, 1 Nov.). Further study of the calendar may clarify its affiliations.

Most scholarship argues for a date in the middle or third quater of the ninth century, perhaps c. 850–860, on art-historical, palaeographical and liturgical grounds. Van Dijk argued that St Scholastica (10 Feb.) in the calendar did not appear until after 855. He noted the absence from the calendar of the octave of the Assumption, instituted by Leo IV (847–55), and the translation of St Lul, abbot of Mainz (852); but Heyne did not find the last feast celebrated in any Mainz sources, so its omission here is probably not significant.

In the upper margin of fol. 2: 'meginpreht vuolfmunt de ouuinga nisint[?]’, 10th century: unidentified. The medieval provenance of the manuscript after its production is unknown.

Sotheby's, 30 May 1840 ('... a valuable collection of rare and curious books ... and some important manuscripts, the whole consigned from Germany'), lot 288. Said in the sale catalogue to have been obtained from St Emmeram’s, Regensburg (cf. the description on fol. iii), but no other evidence for this provenance has been found. It is accepted by Gamber and Heyne but rejected by Bischoff and von Euw.

Purchased by or on behalf of the Bodleian.

Record Sources

Description adapted by Matthew Holford (2017, rev. Oct. 2020) from the following sources, with additional reference to published literature as cited:
S. J. P. Van Dijk, Handlist of the Latin Liturgical Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library Oxford : Vol. 1: Mass Books (typescript, 1957), pp. 7–8 [content, physical description]
Otto Pächt and J. J. G. Alexander, Illuminated Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, I (1966), no. 8 [decoration, origin, provenance]
A. G. Watson, Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts c.435–1600 in Oxford Libraries (Oxford, 1984), no. 40 [decoration, binding, origin, provenance]
Previously described in the Summary Catalogue.


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Digital Images

Digital Bodleian (full digital facsimile)
Digital Bodleian (6 images from 35mm slides)


    Online resources:

    Printed descriptions:

    Anton von Euw, Die St. Galler Buchkunst vom 8. bis zum Ende des 11. Jahrhunderts (2008), cat. 64.
    Bernhard Bischoff, Katalog der festländischen Handschriften des neunten Jahrhunderts (mit Ausnahme der wisigotischen), Teil 2, Laon-Paderborn (2004), 3769
    Sirka Heyne, Studien zur Mainzer und Fuldaer Liturgiegeschichte (1996), 27–34, 243–7
    Jean Deshusses, Le sacramentaire grégorien: ses principales formes d'après les plus anciens manuscrits; édition comparative (1971–82) I.39 [etc.]
    Klaus Gamber, Codices liturgici Latini antiquiores (2nd ed., 1968), no. 735

Last Substantive Revision

2020-11-12: Added further information about triptych and more detailed discussion of origin.