Digital fragment collection

Medieval parchment fragments in Bergen University Library and The Regional State Archives in Bergen

Description of UB Bergen MS 1549, 3

The St Mauritius Antiphoner fragment


The St Mauritius Antiphoner fragment is a bifolium, a double leaf, containing parts of the Office for the St Mauritius et socii (22 september). The fragment was bought in Copenhagen, and given to Bergen museum in 1864. The gothic notation, also known as "Hufnagel", was mainly used in Germany and Eastern Europe, and it is likely that the Antiphoner has German origin. Mauritius is said to have been a soldier and the leader of the socalled Theban legion from Egypt. The legend says that he was killed along with 6 666 of his men, for refusing to slaughter christians under one of the Roman persecutions. According to the legend Mauritius and his legion was killed at Agaunus in Wallis (now Saint-Maurice-en-valais) in the Rhone valley ca 300. From the 8th century he was celebrated throughout the Christian world. St Mauritius is among other things the patron saint for soldiers, including the Swiss guard of the Vatican.

Facsimiles and transcriptions

Manuscript Identification


Bergen University Library, Art and Humanities Library


Bergen University Library


MS 1549, 3


MS 410, 3


Ant 51 (Gjerløw)

The St Mauritius Antiphoner fragment [Parchment, one bifolium, fol. size ca 37 x 27,5 cm, Germany, 15th century.]

Manuscript Content

Contents: The contents is the end of the first nocturn and the beginning of the second nocturne of the Matins, the night-office of St. Mauritius and socii (22 September). From the first nocturne we have the last responsory, describing how the Theban legions crossed the river Octodurum after hearing (and refusing) the cruel emperor's orders, and how they arrived in Agaunus. From the second nocturne we have the first three antiphons written out in full with their psalms indicated. The antiphons are now quoting the thoughts of the Theban legion, like the first antiphon: "We know how to fight against the unpious, but we are utterly incapable of slaughtering the pious and our fellow citicens." The second antiphon continues: "We hold our weapons and do not uprise, because we are prepared to die rather than kill." The third antiphon describes how the emperor's men, the "crudeles" draw their weapons on the legion. The first responsory introduces Mauritius, the primicerius, as well as two other officers, the signifer Exuperius and the senator Candidus, who make the men obey them out of love rather than fear. In the second responsory the emperor gives his horrible command, and then our fragment ends.

Written with pen on the lower right of 420r: "410 3. /givet 1864 af Frøken Caroline Kÿhle, havde faaet dette Blad af en Boghandler i Kjøbenhavn:/" (In primo nocturno) f. 419: (Resp.) Cognoscens Thebea (no CAO number). V. Ut octo milium. pro. Gloria patri. In secundo nocturno (rubric). (Ant.) Nos pugnare (CAO 3959) Ps. Verba mea. (suprascript with a later hand: "fol: 2") (Ant.) Tenemus ecce arma. (CAO 5132) Ps. Domine dominus noster.(suprascript with a later hand: "fol: 4") Ant. Cumque missi. (CAO 2066) Ps. Do(mine), q(uis) h(abitavit). (suprascript with a later hand: "fol: 8") (Resp.) Erant in eadem legione (no CAO number). V. Viri in bello strenui. Resp. Post preceptum (no CAO number).

The clue to a closer identification of the manuscript could be the chants not found in the Corpus Antiphonalium Officii or the Cantus on-line database: The responsories Cognoscens thebea, Erant in eadem legione and Post preceptum.

Physical Description

Parchment, one bifolium fol. size ca 37 x 27,5 cm

Lay-out: The bifolium was the inner one of the quire, and the two folia are marked with 419 and 420. No visible ruling apart from the lines for the notation. Writing space ca 27 x 19 cm, one column, 8 lines per pages.

The fragment is in good condition, and still relatively white, although a bit stained.

Script: Gothic textualis. Rubricated. Musical notation: Gothic notation (Hufnagel) on five brown lines, marked with both c and f-keys.

Initials: There are two categories of initials. The plain red or blue alternating initials seem to be higher in the hierarchy. Coloured initials are used for the first antiphon in the row of three, and the responsories. The small letters indicating the desired coloured initial are still visible. The secondary kind is a more complex gothic initial with red filling, though without decorative elements apart from the red stripe and the shape of the letter itself.



The Antiphoner was probably written in Germany in the 15th century. (Date supplied by prof. Ludwig Bieler, Dublin, in note from 6/7 1964.)


The bifolium was according to the older catalogue bought in Copenhagen.


A gift to the Bergen Museum from ms. Caroline Kyhle in 1864.


Cantus, A Database for Latin Ecclesiastical Chant:

Hesbert, R. J.: Corpus Antiphonalium Officii (CAO), Roma, Herder, 1963-1979.

Tveitane, Mattias et. al.: Bergen University Library Manuscript Catalogue [unpublished]