St Raymund de Peñafort, Summa de casibus penitentiae et matrimoniae (1)

A Dominican taking the confession of a cleric
Corpus Christi Coll. MS 474, f. 29r
Raymund de Peñafort, Summa de casibus penitentiae et matrimoniae
England, Oxford?, ca 1260–1280

Image reproduced by kind permission of the Master and Fellows of Corpus Christi College

The most popular work of Raymund de Peñafort which survives in hundreds of medieval manuscripts was a treatise on the canon law relating to penance written as a confessor’s manual, the Summa de casibus penitentiae et matrimoniae. After writing the first part he decided to supplement his book with a section specifically relating to marriage which would have been particularly useful to parish priests who frequently had to deal with issues of impediment to marriage. The text was completed in 1234/35.

It should be pointed out that the cloak of the Dominican’s habit in the confession scene shown here has been painted in poor quality black paint which has a brownish hue, similar to the colour of script which often results from using poor quality black ink, although the scribe in this case, in contrast to the illuminator, is using very good black ink. The figure style and ornamental border are similar to English illumination of the 1260s and 1270s in a group of Bibles and Aristotle texts perhaps made in Oxford in these decades.

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