Codex of the month (XIII): Madrid, Real Academia de la Historia, Emilianense 30

This month we would like to bring attention to codex Emilianense 30, an extraordinarily interesting volume, if very damaged, of one of the basic readings of the Middle Ages: a Misticus.

Codex Emilianense 30 is the only more or less complete existing copy of the first volume of the Liber Misticus, an altar book used by the presiding priest which holds the formularies required for the celebration of the non-monastic Office as well as the Mass according to the liturgical year calendar. A Misticus contains the prayers, hymns and other chants for the Mass and the Office. This exemplar was copied at the monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla in the last quarter of the 10th century or in the early 11th, to be used in the celebration of the liturgy and not to be kept at the library of the monastery.

Emilianense 30 is a thick volume made up of 230 parchment leaves measuring 380 x 275 mm. with a text box of 245/250 x 180 mm. The parchment is white and of good quality. It is written in beautiful liturgical Visigothic minuscule script to a column with Northern-type Visigothic musical notation. The rounded profiles of the letters are due to an early stage of influence from Caroline minuscule. The whole codex was written by the same scribe. Each folio has from 13 to 26 lines. It uses horizontal prickings in the right margin while the vertical prickings are imperceptible. Only a few scattered remains of polychrome filled zoomorphic initials are left. Some fish-shaped motifs stand out for the freshness of their layout.


Unfortunately, Emilianense 30 stands out for its poor condition. It is due to both the humidity and the abuse received: ruined margins, crumpled or missing folios torn off or cut with a razor. Since it was also subjected to the test of fire, you see burns and mutilations. [When the Roman rite was being imposed in Iberia supressing the Mozarabic rite, the ordeal by fire was usually practised. It involved throwing one book for each rite into a bonfire and see which (the one approved by God) survived]. Many miniatures - quite simple, judging by the ones that remain - were systematically ripped off with a blade in recent times, leaving circular or oval holes in the places where they were. The most damaged folios are the first forty. A failed restoration attempt sometimes makes it difficult to read as a result of the ink used, which has run, leaving the folios stained with an ochre color.


In the current binding, it consists of 33 booklets of 8 folios each (quaternions). The first four, up to folio 29, are slightly smaller in size and on their edges, the effects of fire and humidity are better appreciated. There are two recent number schemes: one with large font at the center of the lower edge and another, very tiny, at the upper margin towards the right. Up to folio 76 both coincide; from then on, they differ a bit until folio 109, in which the one at the bottom ends. The texts agree with those of the Veronense (Codex LXXXIX of the Capitolare Library of Verona) and of the Londoner (Additional Manuscript 30.852 of the British Library, London) in the part relative to the prayers contained in those “Orationales”, and with the Antiphonary of Leon (Manuscript 8 of the Archive of the Cathedral of León) regarding the chants. It begins (fol. 1r) with a prayer for the feast of Saint Acisclus, at the beginning of Advent (Deus Pater Omnipotens, qui es fons et origo totius...) and ends (fol. 230v) with texts used at the beginning of Lent in the office “ad Carnes Tollendas” tollendas (O quam suaves sonus quum sonsone te Christe fideles ... perueniamos ad gaudia repromissa, amen ...). Here is the list of the missing pages:

1. At the beginning there are several folios (4?) missing with the introduction and Vespers of St. Acisclus.

25. The Feast of these saints is celebrated on November 27 and, therefore, should go after the fol. 32, but there is no room there. This folio, together with another, which would contain the sentences, and which is missing, was introduced here because it is the middle of the booklet. Another folio is also missing with the Vespers of the first Sunday.

35. Next a folio with the beginning of the Vespers of San Saturnino.

54-55. Two folios with the office of Vespers and the Matins of the third Sunday of Advent.

73-74. Several (2?) folios with the last chants of the Matins and the first part of the hymn of Saint Eulalia.

77. This folio is no longer found in the Codex, but another one must still be missing. They contained the weekly office of Wednesday and Thursday of the fourth week of Advent.

80. It is not in the codex any longer. Possibly, another one is still missing. They had the Vespers and the beginning of the Matins of the fourth Sunday.

86-87. A folio with the end of the Vespers of Thursday of the fifth week.

92-93. A folio with the end of the prayer of the responsory of the fourth mass and the first three antiphons and prayers of the fifth mass of the Feast of St. Mary.

130-131. These folios have been ripped off, but two more must also be missing. They contained the end of Vespers and all the antiphons and prayers until the responsory of the third Mass of the Matins of the feast of St. Stephen.

136-137. Two folios with the end of the Matins and the beginning of the Mass of Saint Eugenia.

138-139. Three folios with the end of the Mass of St. James the Lesser, vespers and the beginning of the Matins of St. John.

143-144. These two folios have been lost. They had the Vespers of Saint Colomba.

160. It has been ripped out. It contained the Sext of the office “in initium anni.”

161-162. Several folios (4?) with the Vespers and the beginning of the Matins of the Feast of the “Apparitio.”

176-177. Several folios (2?) with the end of Vespers and the beginning of Matins of Saint Julian and Saint Basilisa.

183-184. Two folios with the fifth mass and the end of the Matins of the “Allisio infantium.”

199-200. Two folios with the fifth mass and the end of the Matins of the Feast of St. Fructuoso.

224-225. A folio with the end of the second and the beginning of the third mass of the Chair of St. Peter.

226-227. Several folios (4?) with the Vespers and the Matins of the office of St. Emeterio and Celedonio, and Vespers and the beginning of the Sunday Matins “Ante introitu quadragesimae.”

228-229. Several folios (2?) with the Vespers of the Office in “Carnes tollendas.”

230. The codex ends here, in the midst of the prayer of the Alleluiatic of the second mass; a full mass is missing and the end of Matins and the chants of the Mass of “Carnes tollendas.”. About 4 (?) folios are missing.

by M. Ferro

Faculty of Divinity

Trinity College, University of Toronto



Ferro, M. (1972.). El Ciclo Natalicio en el Calendario del Oficio Hispánico. Madrid: Universidad de Salamanca. Colección de Estudios No. 5, pp. 18-20.

Millares Carlo, A. (1961) Manuscritos visigóticos. Notas bibliográficas. Hispania Sacra, 14, num. 100, p. 385.

Millares Carlo, A. (1983) Tratado de Paleografía Española, 3 ed., Madrid: Espasa Calpe, 1983, vol. I num. 192, p. 333.

Pinell, J. (1965). Los textos de la antigua liturgia hispánica. Fuentes para su estudio. In Rivera Recio, J. F. and Louis Brou, eds., Estudios sobre la liturgia mozárabe. Toledo: Diputación Provincial, p. 134.

Randel, M. (1969) The Responsorial Psalm Tones for the Mozarabic Office, Princeton: Princeton University Press, pp. 6, 8, 17-18, 46, 53-64, 68 and append.

Ruiz García, E., et al. (1997). Catálogo de la Sección de Códices de la Real Academia de la Historia. Madrid: Real Academia de la Historia, pp. 219-220.

Zapke, S., ed., (2007). Hispania Vetus: Musical-Liturgical Manuscripts from Visigothic Origins to the Franco-Roman Transition (9th–12th Centuries). Bilbao: Fundación BBVA, p. 264.


>>> Unpublished. It cannot be consulted physically due to it being in a very bad state of conservation; there is however a digital version with free access available here. <<<

Go to Top
I agree

This site uses cookies to store information on your computer. These cookies are necessary so that some of the functionalities of the website are available to you, and others help us to improve for they give us an idea of ​​how the site is used. Cookies Policy.