Summa confessorum

John of Freiburg writing and ornamental initials Q ansd S to the Prologues with full border
Gonville and Caius Coll. MS 274/506, f. 1r
John of Freiburg, Summa confessorum
England, ca 1320–1340

Image reproduced by kind permission of the Master and Fellows of Gonville and Caius College

Perhaps the most detailed Dominican treatise on confession is by John of Freiburg (ca 1250–1314). He studied at Strasbourg under the Dominican Ulrich of Strasbourg (d. 1277) a pupil of Albertus Magnus and Provincial of the Teutonic province from 1272 to 1277. John of Freiburg perhaps also studied canon law at the university of Paris for a time in the late 1270s. From around 1280 he was lector and prior of the Dominican convent at Freiburg im Breisgau. His Summa confessorum was completed before 1298 and draws on Raymund de Peñafort’s Summa de casibus penitentiae et matrimoniae and the moral theology of St Thomas Aquinas. His penitential manual aimed to instruct confessors on how to use the canon law and moral theology of the Church in their task of carrying out the sacrament of penance. This copy in the rubric at the beginning of the prologue names him as John the lector, and he is shown writing in the historiated initial. The ornament of foliage and a bird’s head is characteristically English of around 1320–1340 but not specific enough to suggest any particular centre of production.

Extended captions