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Gospel book: MS McClean 19

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Object information

Current Location: In storage




PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Parchment, ii paper flyleaves + 121 fols. + ii paper flyleaves, 250 x 183 mm (220 x 135 mm), 31 long lines, ruled in hard point

BINDING: nineteenth century, gold-tooled green morocco over wooden boards, upper cover inlaid with medallions of evangelists’ symbols in corners of frame which contains gold-tooled inscription INITIVM SANCTI EVANGELII LIBER QVATUOR EVANGELIST. GENERAT. ISV. XTI. FIL. DAV. FIL. ABRA. MS SECVLVM IX which previously surrounded a ninth-century Carolingian ivory plaque showing Christ enthroned, blessing and holding book within wreath, with St Matthew writing on lectern and other three evangelist symbols in corners, removed to the Museum’s Department of Applied Arts (M.14-1904), now replaced with a black-and-white photograph; lower cover inlaid with central medallion of the Lamb surrounded by evangelists’ symbols in medallions and two gold-tooled angels with the inscription INITIVM SCI. EVANGELI / IN PRINCIPIO ERAT VERBVM, the entire composition based on the miniature on fol. 90v

SECUNDO FOLIO: instrumento post septuaginta

SCRIPT: Caroline minuscule

fols. 1v-2v St Jerome, Letter to Pope Damasus, Beato papae Damaso Ieronimus novum opus
fols. 2v-4r St Jerome, Prologue to the four Gospels, Plures fuisse qui euangelia scripserunt
fols. 4r-4v St Jerome, Letter to Pope Damasus, Sciendum etiam neque ignarum
fols. 5r-10v Canon Tables
fol. 10v Ailerán, Verses on the Canons, beginning In primo certe canone quatuor (Howlett 1996, 11-20; Howlett 2001)
fols. 11r-40v Gospel of St Matthew, with Argumentum and capitula
fols. 41v-59v Gospel of St Mark, with Argumentum and capitula
fols. 60v-90r Gospel of St Luke, with Argumentum and capitula
fols. 91v-112r Gospel of St John
fols. 112v-120v List of Gospel readings for Masses during the Church year

Six full-page framed miniatures, coloured in dull orange, brown, blue and pink, set at the beginning of Gospels: fol. 10v Christ enthroned, flanked by a male and a female saint, with the latter holding a scroll out to Christ and pointing to a monk (the donor) prostrate at her feet and looking up at her, set in a frame with geometric interlace panels with corner medallions containing entwined acanthus ornament; fol. 12v St Matthew enthroned beneath curtains, and writing on a scroll LIBER GENERATIONIS IHV XRI FILII DAVID, with his symbol the angel seated beside him and blessing, set in a frame with interlace panels with squares or round medallions containing interlace or foliage set at the corners or the middle of the sides - the steps of the throne are inscribed HOC MATHEUS AGENS HOMINEM GENERALITUR IMPLET; fol. 41r St Mark enthroned beneath curtains holding pen and scroll inscribed MARCUS VT ALTA FREMIT VOX PER DESERTA LEONIS, partly held by his symbol, the lion beside his feet, set in frame with interlace panels and corner roundels containing large acanthus leaves coming out of beast head mouths; fol. 60r St Luke enthroned, with his symbol the ox beside his feet, holding a scroll inscribed IVRA SACERDOTII LVCAS TENET ORE IUVENCI, set in an interlace-panelled frame with corner medallions containing half-length angels; fol. 90v Central interlace-framed medallion containing the Lamb of God surrounded by four entwined interlace medallions containing evangelist symbols holding the ends of scrolls held by two angels centrally placed at the top and bottom inscribed QVATVOR HI PROCERES SVNT MVNDI SCEPTRA TENENTES (top) and MATHEUS MARCUS LVCAS SANCTUSQVE [IOHANNES] (bottom); fol. 91r St John, with his symbol the eagle flying down above, holding a scroll inscribed MORE VOLANS AQVILAE VERBO PETIT ASTRA JOHANNES, with a stand for two inkhorns supported by lion on left, set within frame containing interlace panels with corner squares and side medallions containing interlace.

Historiated initial: fol. 42v Gospel of St Mark, [I, 31 ll.] Bust of Christ blessing, holding a book, set in a medallion at centre of interlace panel initial, flanked by foliage scrolls with interlace and beast head terminals at top and bottom.

Two full-page drawings added in the twelfth century with listing of relics: fol. 121r Octofoil with niches, perhaps representing a phylactery reliquary, or alternatively intended as an inventory of relics possessed by the place, containing the names of Sts Nicholas, Laurence, Reliquie Regum, Peter, Stephen and Paul, Barnabas, Andrew, Virgin (her shoes), Mary of Egypt, Agatha, Holy Innocents, Benedict, Leodegarius, Bridget, Samson, Virgin (her garment), Laurence, Margaret and Maurontus; fol. 121v Relics from an image of the Virgin, surmounted by niches with relics from the Holy Sepulchre, the Virgin’s tomb, the candle held by the Angel at Christ’s tomb, and at the bottom, from Calvary, St Martin, and other saints not known by name.

Eleven full-page Canon Tables beneath rounded and gabled arches containing foliage or interlace, the arches in some cases overlapping or interlacing at their bases, supported by columns with capitals and bases, all containing foliate motifs and interlace (fols. 5r-10r).

Two full-page framed ornamental initials: fol. 13r Gospel of St Matthew, L[iber] with interlace-filled stems, coiled foliage infill and interlace terminals with beast heads, and with opening words in coloured capitals, all set in an interlace-panelled frame with corner medallions containing interlace; fol. 91v Gospel of St John, I[nitium] with interlace panels and terminals with bird and animal heads, surrounded with the opening words in large coloured initials intertwined with foliage, all set in interlace-panelled frame with four standing angels (or perhaps virtues) in corner medallions

Initials [8-30 ll.] with foliage, interlace and human or animal figures for some argumenta and the opening words of the Gospel of Luke (fols. 41v, 42v, 60v, 62r); red penwork initials [3-8 ll.] with occasional reserved or foliate ornament; red penwork initials [1-2 ll.]; display script in red or alternate red and black lines of capitals.


History note: Possibly at Douai in the late twelfth century when a list of relics was added (fol. 121r-v) containing St Maurontus whose relics were at the College of St Amé in Douai, founded before 1024 (Ugé 2005, 145-49); at the Abbey of St André at Le Cateau in the diocese of Cambrai by the fifteenth century when a marginal note refers to St Maxellendis whose relics were there (fol. 25r); in the seventeenth century the ownership inscription of the Abbey Liber monasterii Sancti Andreae de castro cameracesio (fol. 1r); Joseph-Baptiste Barrois (1784-1855); Bertram, fourth earl of Ashburnham (1797-1878); Bertram, fifth earl of Ashburnham (1840-1913); his sale, Sotheby’s, London, 10-14 June 1901, lot 191, and purchased by Frank McClean (1837-1904); his bequest, 1904.

Legal notes

Bequeathed by Frank McClean

Place(s) associated

  • monastery of St Andre du Cateau-Bresis ⪼ Northern France ⪼ France

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1904) by McClean, Frank


11th Century
Circa 1000 CE - Circa 1050 CE


  • Cambridge Illuminated

Materials used in production


Components of the work

Support composed of parchment
Text Height 220 mm Width 135 mm
Page Height 250 mm Width 183 mm

Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

  • Text: instrumento post
  • Type: Secundo folio

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: MS McClean 19
Primary reference Number: 118792
Project ID: 10
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 24 August 2020 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Manuscripts and Printed Books

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Gospel book" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-06-21 18:19:20

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