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Original price £950.00 - Original price £950.00
Original price
£950.00 - £950.00
Current price £950.00

[Mass]: Incipit ‘L’Ordinaire de la Messe’. [France, 18th century].

An eighteenth-century liturgical manuscript, in a contemporary binding, describing the Tridentine mass. The text, which is mostly in Latin but typically has headings in French, commences with the Ordinary of the mass on p. 3. These are the parts of the mass that remain relatively constant. Thereafter follows the Proper of the mass, which are the parts of the mass that change depending on the feast or observance. There is a focus on the beginning of the liturgical year, including sections relating to Christmas (pp. 113-123) and the feast of St Etienne (pp. 123-130). The final section relates to the feast of the Purification of the Virgin (pp. 386-390).

This manuscript makes for an interesting comparison with and indeed contrast to L’Année Chrétienne by the Jansenist Nicholas Le Tourneaux (1640-1686). Le Tourneux’s controversial work contained parallel Latin-French translations of the masses for Sundays and feast days throughout the year. It thus complemented the Jansenist view that laypeople (especially women) should have greater access to the scripture and the liturgy. The present manuscript follows similar organisational principles, but makes a far smaller gesture towards vernacularity: only the headings are in French. Arguably, though, the very act of making a personal Ordinary of the mass can be seen as an act of taking personal access to the liturgy.

In places the text has been crossed out, such as the Sunday after Ascension (pp. 225-230). There may originally have been further companion volumes containing equivalent material for the rest of the liturgical year. The maker of the manuscript may have envisaged a pleasingly-bound set.


Manuscript. One volume, approx. 20 x 15.5 cms in binding, pp. 1-20, 23-48, 21-22, 49-96, [1-24] 89bis-96bis, 97-390, 334-343; all except 14 pages have writing. Frequent corrections to page numbers. Written area generally approx. 17 x 12.5 cms, c.17 lines per page, all pages with two vertical rules in pencil. Four green textile bookmarks.

Bound in brown polished calf over boards. Triple fillet frames tooled in gold to both covers. Flat spine divided into seven compartments. Gold-tooled red goatskin label (‘DECEMB JANVIER FEVRIER ET MARS’, with V twice represented using upside-down A). Gold-tooled floral decoration to remaining spine compartments. Gold-tooled sides and dentelles. All edges gilt. One free endpaper at front and one at rear. Marbled pastedowns and endpapers.

Condition (textblock): light to medium browning, waterstaining to margins, light mould at beginning and end (mostly confined to endpapers). Condition (binding): Joints cracked, waterstaining and wear to leather.


  1. Pencil note to verso of front free endpaper (29/h).
  2. Formerly in the collection of Achille and Henri Moranvillé (1827-1895; 1863-1946).
  3. Sold we believe as part of Paris, Tessier & Sarrou, 9 February 2016, lot 16.
  4. Item purchased by us from an indirect source.


Blanchard, Shaun, The Synod of Pistoia and the Vatican II: Jansenism and the Struggle for Catholic Reform (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), pp. 80-81.