An "Odd" Collectar


“Unusual” and “odd” are adjectives used to characterize this manuscript by scholars who have examined it, including Malcom B. Forbes of Oxford University (1999), David Ganz of Kings College, London (1995), and Drew Jones of The Ohio State University (2010).
An interpretation of the “Abbot Sigismund Collectar” at Ohio Wesleyan University
by Drew Jones, Department of English, The Ohio State University

(a) As a collectar, it is curiously incomplete. Though it appears to have a more or less full run of texts for the liturgical year, you may notice that for every given occasion only the chapter and collect for the Office of Terce are given, not for any of the other liturgical hours.

(b) Likewise, a later part of the manuscript contains additional chapters and collects (fols. 43v-44r) and some texts of liturgical hymns for the Divine Office (fols. 44r-50v). Yet there again, the only items given are those for Terce.

(c) It might be tempting to think that this Cistercian monastery simply had a different collectar (+ hymnal) made for each of the liturgical hours, and that this one just happens to be the book used at Terce. Note, however, that the manuscript as a whole also includes more general material like the litany of saints etc. (fols. 54v-57v), not specific to Terce.

(d) More importantly, the later part of the manuscript also includes some rituals not part of the Divine Office at all—including solemn blessings to accompany important Mass-liturgies before and during the Lenten season (fols. 33r-36r), rituals for ordaining a cleric, for blessing a monk, for consecrating nuns (fols. 36r-43r); and directions for clothing in the habit a Cistercian novice (fols. 58v-60r); and prayers to be recited over monks departing from or returning to the monastery.

Conclusions: Although this manuscript begins as a (partial) collectar, the book as a whole might be better described as volume of various liturgical texts customized for the personal use of Abbot Sigismund (see the colophon on fol. 58r). He evidently made it a custom to preside at the Office of Terce but—to judge by the evidence of this book—he entrusted the presider’s role to others for the remaining hours (which he, as a busy abbot, may not even have attended). Most other blessings and rituals contained in the manuscript on fols. 36r-43r and 58v-60r are those the performance of which would have required someone of an abbot’s (or abbot-bishop’s) rank. Likewise, the abbot would normally have presided at Mass on the highest holy days and thus had use for the various blessings on fols. 33r-36r.

The theory that this book was a customized, fancy production for the abbot’s personal use is supported by the colophon and the decorative elements on the opening folio (the illuminated initial of St. Paul and the abbot’s name abbreviated in a crest-like design at the bottom).