c. 1174-1186


 The small size of the manuscript

Individual images and pdf of complete MS may be downoaded at:

ACCORDING  to Jeffrey Hamburger this florilegium is deliberately arranged to facilitate meditation on stages of spiritual progress according to the three traditional mystical levels of:

[1] ascetical purification;

[2] meditative-contemplative illumination (contemplation of creation); and

[3] union with God and knowledge of the mysteries of the Blessed Trinity.




IMMEDIATELY following the Coat of Arms there are six images of monastic asceticism, illustrating the virtues but unaccompanied by text or explanation, taken from the Lives of the Fathers and the Institutes and Conferences of Cassian, of which these two are representative:



BOTH of the following illuminations illustrate the virtue of patience using stories from the Lives of the Fathers and the Institutes and Conferences of Cassian, texts with which the reader was presumed to be familiar, and which would therefore require no accompanying interpretation.  In the first (f.2v, p.13) a monk waters a stick which eventually blooms; in the second a fasting monk is secretly nourished by an angel (f.3r, p.14).

Abbot John Colobos waters the stick
Cassian Inst 4.24;  Lat.Syst.Apoph. Obedience 3.

The sick monk assisted by an angel.
Lat.Syst_Apoph. Patience 44.




IN the manuscript this illumination of the crucifix as Palma Contemplationis is not accompanied by any explanatory text.  The interpretations of the symbols given in the left panel below are probable but not certain.  The reader was left to their own interpretation of the mystical creatures.

THE Palma Contemplationis (Palm of contemplation.

SEVEN mystical birds on the seven branches of the palm (read bottom-to- top, left-to-right) symbolize the ascent of the soul to God:

1. The Peacock (consider yourself)

2. The Owl (mourn sinfulnes)

3. The Swan (patience in affliction)

4. The (mythical) Harpy (Christ is killed for us)

5. The Nightingale (sings at dawn - rejoicing in Christ)

6. The Blackbird (winging towards desire)

7. The Phoenix (final communion - renewed from ashes)




The Seven Liberal Arts (5r, p. 13):
 Grammar, Astronomy, Arithmetic, Geometry

The Seven Liberal Arts (5r, p. 13):
Music, Logic, Rhetoric




LATER in the manuscript the text (f.20v, p.49) identifies the soul with both the House of God, and the beloved in the Song of Songs.  The facing illumination (f.21r p.50) make it clear that it is none other than Christ who loves the soul, and that they are destined for eternal union with one another.  The texts are taken from Genesis, the Psalter, the Song of Songs and the liturgy (English translation below).


HOW beautiful are your sandaled steps, O prince's daughter! (Song 7:1)

SAY to wisdom: You are my sister, and call prudence your friend, (Pro 7:4)

THEIR feet were straight feet, and the sole of their foot was like the sole of a calf's foot. (Resp. Com.Evang, cf..Ez 1:7)

ETERNAL peace from the eternal Father be to this house; The perpetual peace of the Word of the Father be to this house; the peace of the blessed Comfortor be granted to this house. (Magn.Ant. Ded. Ch.: Sarum,

IT is good for me to cling  to my God, to put my hope in the Lord God (Ps 72.28)

THE Lord shall be my God, and this stone shall be called the House of God (Gen 28:21-22)

MY beloved is mine and I am his.(Song 2:16)



ANOTHER text (f.35v, p.79) is a catena of Old Testament texts describing how Christ gathers, comforters, and wipes away sorrow from the eyes of those He loves.  The facing illumination (f.36r p.80) depicts (below) Christ consoling and drawing the souls to himself, and (above) the same souls in union with their Beloved.

I WILL save my flock, and their increase shall not become  a prey. (Eze 34:22)

MY people shall sit in the beauty of peace. (cf. Is 32.18)

THE sons of wisdom are the church of the just and their generation is obedience. (Eccl. Sir. 3.1)

AS a mother comforts her children, so I will comfort you. (cf. Is 66.13)

I LOVE those who love me. (Prov. 8.17)

BEHOLD I will make Jerusalem an archway of inebriation to all the people round about. (Zec 12:2)

GOD will wipe away all tears from their eyes here shall be no more mourning, nor crying, nor shall sorrow be any more. (Rev. 21.4) t

Latin Text: Salvabo gregem meam et amplius  non erit in rapina salvabo gregem meum et non erit ultra in rapinam et iudicabo inter pecus et pecus (Eze 34:22). Sedebit populus meus in tranquilitate pacis (cf. Is 32.18). Filii sapientie congregatos vistoru et nationes eos obedientia (Eccl./Sir. 3.1). Sicut mater consolatur filios suos, et ego consolabor vos  (cf. Is 66.13). Diligo diligentes me diligo (Prov. 8.17).  Ecce ego ponam Jerusalem superliminare crapulæ omnibus populis in circuitu  (Zech 12.2) Absterget Deus omnes lacrimas ab oculis eorum et non erit [ampli?] neque luctus neque clamor neque erit dolor  (Rev. 21.4).




IN a  very remarkable series of texts, many taken from Augustine's On the Trinity, the reader is invited to meditate on the One with Whom the soul is destined to enjoy eternal union - namely the Blessed Trinity.  The texts and accompanying illuminations attempt to explore both the dynamic interpersonal (kataphatic) aspects of the Godhead as well as the (apophatic) hiddenness and incomprehensibility of the God Who can say, “My center is everywhere, my circumference nowhere.”



THE text (f.76v, p.161) cites Peter of Celle and Augustine, highlighting the love between Father and Son (which Augustine identified with the Holy Spirit) and the procession of the Spirit from both Father and Son,  In the accompanying illumination (f.77r, p.162) the golden solar rays emphasize the transcendent brightness of God, while the monk covering his eyes in the lower right symbolizes the incapacity of thought or imagination to encompass the divine nature

THE Father is well pleased in the Son and the Son in the Father, and the Holy Spirit is from both.  (Peter of Celle, Sermo XI in Nativitate)

FOR when we aspire from this depth to that height, it is a step towards no small knowledge, if, before we can know what God is, we can already know what He is not. For certainly He is neither earth nor heaven; nor, as it were, earth and heaven; nor any such thing as we see in the heaven; nor any such thing as we do not see, but which perhaps is in heaven. Neither if you were to magnify in the imagination of your thought the light of the sun as much as you are able, either that it may be greater, or that it may be brighter, a thousand times as much, or times without number; neither is this God. (Aug. De Trin . VIII.2)

Latin  text: Pater complacet sibi in Filio et Filius in Patre, et Spiritus sanctus ab utroque. (Peter of Celle, Sermo XI in Nativitate). Non enim paruae notitiae pars est cum de profundo isto in illam summitatem respiramus si antequam scire possimus quid sit deus, possumus iam scire quid non sit. Non est enim certe nec terra nec caelum nec quasi terra et caelum, nec tale aliquid quale uidemus in caelo, nec quidquid tale non uidemus et est fortassis in caelo. Nec si augeas imaginatione cogitationis lucem solis quantum potes, siue quo sit maior siue quo sit clarior, millies tantum aut innumerabiliter, neque hoc est deus. (Aug. De Trin . VIII.2)



THE text (f.39v, p.87) emphasized the paradox that although God has a (kataphatic) face as Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed, Trinity, that face is imagined in many different ways; and even though the historical Christ is on the horizon of eternity He is nevertheless beyond time (apophatic) The accompanying illumination (f.40r, p.88) depicts the robed figure of Christ Whose face is hidden, standing on and holding three suns that depict the triune nature of God.

THE Lord is on the horizon of eternity and beyond time
(Alan of Lille, citing Pseudo-Arist, Liber de Causis)

AS that Scripture witnesses: this it is which it is both useful to believe, and which must not be despaired of, and must be sought. For even the physical face of our Lord Himself is variously imagined by the diversity of countless imaginations, which yet was one, whatever it was. Nor in our faith which we have of our Lord Jesus Christ, is that wholesome which the mind imagines for itself, perhaps far other than the reality, but that which we think of man according to his kind: for we have a notion of human nature implanted in us, as it were by rule, according to which we know immediately, that whatever such thing we see is a man or the form of a man. (Aug. De Trin., VIII.4.7)

Latin  textDominus in orisunte eternitatis et supra tempus (Alan of Lille, cites Pseudo-Arist, Liber de Causis). Quae scriptura illa testatur. Hoc utile est credere et non desperandum et appetendum. Nam et ipsius facies dominicae carnis innumerabilium cogitationum diuersitate uariatur et fingitur, quae tamen una erat quaecumque erat. Neque in fide nostra quam de domino Iesu Christo habemus illud salubre est quod sibi animus fingit longe fortasse aliter quam res habet, sed illud quod secundum speciem de homine cogitamus; habemus enim quasi regulariter infixam naturae humanae notitiam secundum quam quidquid tale aspicimus statim hominem esse cognoscimus uel hominis formam. (Aug. De Trin., VIII.4.7)



THE text (f.89v, p.103) quotes Augustine on the mystery of the simultaneous unity and trinity of God. In the accompanying illumination (f.90r, p.103) the three divine Persons, united in the Holy Spirit, are surrounded by a circle of suns, symbolizing glorious unity.  The onlookers look away from the mystery they cannot comprehend.

BLESSED be the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

ONE is as much as the three together, nor are two anything more than one. And They are infinite in themselves. So both each are in each, and all in each, and each in all, and all in all, and all are one. Let him who sees this, whether in part, or through a glass and in an enigma, rejoice in knowing God; and let him honor Him as God, and give thanks; but let him who does not see it, strive to see it through piety, not to object to this through blindness. Since God is one, but yet is a Trinity. 
       (Aug. De Trin . VI .10.12)

Latin  text Benedicta sit Sancta Trinitas Pater et Filius et Spiritus Sanctus.  Una quantum tres simul, nec plus aliquid sunt duae quam una {res}, et in se infinita sunt.} Ita et singula sunt in singulis et omnia in singulis et singula in omnibus et omnia in omnibus et unum omnia. Qui uidet hoc uel ex parte uel per speculum in aenigmate gaudeat cognoscens deum et sicut deum honoret et gratias agat; qui autem non uidet tendat per pietatem ad uidendum, non per caecitatem ad calumniandum, quoniam unus est deus sed tamen trinitas. (Aug De Trin. VI.10.12)



THE text (f.103v, p.231) quotes a famous medieval couplet describing the imminence and transcendence of God (in all places/in no place), as well as a text extolling the God who encompasses all extremes.  The illumination (f.104r, p.232) depicts the three divine Persons partially hidden behind a rayed solar disc.  It may be significant that the rayed disc behind which the Divine Presence is concealed resembles the Host in a lunette at Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and that the Feast of Corpus Christi had been officially approved only a few years earlier n 1264. 103v - 231 [goes with 104r-232

MYcenter is in all places, my circumference is in no place. (Alan of Lille, Theologicae regulae 7, PL 210. 627A)

GLORIOUS and fearful is your name, O Lord, who build your house in the whole earth: Great is Our Lord, for exalted is his name alone; blessed those who dwell in your house, praising you from age to age. (Ant. Ded. of a Church; or Sunday 3 of Lent. cf. Pss. 83.5; 146.5; Deut 28.58)

WE know that God is; if we wish to know what he is, He is the last and the first, We know He is the highest and the lowest. God always was and shall be without end; where He always was, there He is now. (“De esse et essencia divina”  Carmina of Petrus Pictor of Saint-Omer

AND where he is now there he was then (ibid.)

Latin  textCentrum meum ubique locorum, circumferentia autem nusquam. Gloriosum et terribile nomen tuum domine aedificanti domum in universa terra magnus dominus noster quia exaltatum est nomen ejus solius beati qui habitant in domo tua domine in saeculum saeculi laudabunt te (Antiphon for the Feast of the Dedication of a Church; or Sunday of Lent? (Pss. 83.5; 146.5; Deut 28.58).  Quod Deus est, scimus. Quid sit, si scire velimus,  Ultimus et primus. Quod scit, summus et ymus.  Deus fuit semper et erit sine fine; ubi semper fuit, ibi nunc est.Et ubi nunc est ibi fuit tunc.

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