The oldest liturgical manuscript from Le Puy-en-Velay

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The liturgical manuscript that is up for sale at the Dorotheum in the autographs auction on 1 June 2015 contains the liturgical instructions for the priest, a sacramentary for the bishop, and a calendar for the cathedral of Notre-Dame in Le Puy-en-Velay. This manuscript is extremely important both for its scientific value and historical liturgical significance. It is the oldest manuscript demonstrably originating from this diocese.

As one of the starting points on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, and a bishopric with a history stretching back over a thousand years, the French city of Puy-en-Velay in the Auvergne region has always been an important cultural centre.

The Latin parchment manuscript was written around the mid-11th century. It consists of 276 pages, each 18 x 11 cm in format, written in careful Carolingian miniscule and including several sections with neumes. The manuscript is also embellished throughout with illuminated initials, many decorated with tracery. Of particular interest is the double page with two very large illuminated initials decorated with tracery (Vere dignum and Te igitur), as well as framed tables in the form of two altar cards.

The manuscript’s provenance is also verifiable: the codex’s origin in Le Puy-en-Velay is documented in the records of the cathedral’s consecration and reference to the local saint (11 July: Aput Anicium dedicatio ecclesie sancte MARIE virginis). During the early 15th century it found its way to Bohemia and was most recently part of an established private collection.

The exceptional value of the codex lies in its original condition, never subject to restoration, in addition to its great age, uniform appearance and the compilation of partly unknown texts – the scientific value of which can hardly be overestimated. In terms of its value to musicology, the manuscript is also expected to provide new insights into the history of Gregorian musicology.

A detailed, original scientific description accompanies the lot and is available to interested parties. The online catalogue also offers more information on this immensely important and scientifically significant manuscript.

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