Browse Exhibits (9 total)

Clarissan Death in Brussels: The Burial Ritual in Plimpton MS 034

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A fourteenth-century processional for a house of Rich Clares in Brussels, Plimpton MS 034 (New York, Columbia University, Rare Book and Manuscript Library) contains a detailed service for a deceased woman. The other services contained in the manuscript are those for the Feast of the Purification, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, the Feasts of Saint Francis and Saint Clare and Corpus Christi. The burial ritual does, however, take up significantly more space in the manuscript than the other services.

This exhibit aims to reconstruct the full text of the death ritual at the Clarissan convent in Brussels and to examine the manuscript in the context of what is known about the convent as well as about contemporary attitudes on the body, dying, and burial.

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Gallery of Plimpton MS 034

Gallery of all the images from Plimpton MS 034

How to Date and Place a Medieval Manuscript


This exhibit aims to provide researchers with tools and methods for determining the probable date and geographical origin of a medieval liturgical manuscript. The manuscript used here as a case study, Western MS 097 (housed in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University), is a gradual containing music notation. However, most of the methods discussed in the exhibit are applicable to any liturgical manuscript.

Each page in the exhibit will lead us down an investigatory avenue: musical analysis, paleographical analysis, andparticularly useful for Western MS 097exploration of marginalia. 

The pages in this exhibit are intended to be read in sequence.

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Franciscan and Clarissan Chants in Plimpton MS 034

Plimpton MS 034, a processional copied in the fourteenth century for the Brussels Covent of Saint Clare, contains the procession for the feasts of Saint Francis and Saint Clare written in a double text format. Uncommonly found in fourteenth-century processionals, this text underlay allows us to gain a deeper understanding of the liturgical practice in the Brussels Covent and of the significance of the relationship between the Franciscan and the Clarissan orders. This exhibit offers a discussion of the manuscript folia that include the Franciscan/Clarissan chants, music recordings of these chants along with transcriptions, and the complete Latin text and English translation.

Living Letters: Decorated Initials in Plimpton MS 034


This exhibit displays the decorated initials in Plimpton MS 034, a processional copied in 1351 for the Brussels convent of St. Clare. The aim is not so much to find a one-to-one correspondence between the anthropomorphic and zoomorphic letters and the chant texts, but rather to explore the types of figures portrayed in these initials and tentatively suggest some possible meanings. Since there is no evidence of a division of labor, I assume in this exhibit that Johannes de Havere was both the scribe and artist for this manuscript.

A note on the images: by hovering the mouse over each image, you can view the folio number. When you click on the image, you will be taken to the web page corresponding to the entire leaf.

Franciscan Iconography in Barnard 1

Within Barnard 1 manuscript are four historiated illuminations of initials attributed to Niccolò di Ser Sozzo (fl. 1334-63), alongside several painted initials that are not historiated. Those historiated are:

  • The Elevation of the Host (189)
  • The Death of Francis (211)
  • The Stigmata of Francis (220)
  • Saint Anthony of Padua (253)

The aim of this exhibition is to explore these four illuminations, their historical and liturgical contexts, and compare them to a brief selection of contemporary 13th and 14th century artistic depictions of their narratives.

Exhibit by Aleksandr Butovetskiy - Fall 2021

Conservation of a Fourteenth-Century Liturgical Manuscript

This project considers issues of conservation with Barnard MS 01, a fourteenth-century antiphonal currently held at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University. Although Barnard 1 is relatively well-preserved, there are nonetheless areas which have experienced degradation and decay, as would be expected of any 700-year old object.

Exhibit by Grant Woods - Fall 2021

Barnard 1: From Siena to New York City

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Barnard 1: From Siena to New York City follows the manuscript as it journeys from its place of origin at one of the Franciscan houses of Siena, on to the library of Adrian and Mary E. Larkin Joline, and ultimately to the collections of Barnard College.

WordPress Exhibit by Alina Shubina and Claire Dwyer

Vertical Lines in Barnard MS1

This website discusses the presence and role of vertical lines in Barnard MS 1, a manuscript in Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library. I focus on two feasts, the Common of the Apostles and Corpus Christi, and comparisons with other contemporary Franciscan manuscripts.

WordPress Exhibit by Gareth Cordery