Very early manuscript of this mystical work by St Mechtilda

Mechthild de Hackeborn. Liber specialis gratiae (extracts, with other works).

Northern Germany or Netherlands, second half of the 15th century.

12mo (110 x 147 mm). Latin manuscript on paper (watermark: anchor device, unidentified). 36 ff. (collation undeterminable due to rebinding, but complete). Average leaf size ca. 100 x 142 mm, written space ca. 65 x 95 mm. Gothic text, 21 lines per extensum, traces of lead pencil rules. Rubricated; a few red Lombardic initials; some lines written in red for emphasis. Splendid modern red morocco binding, spine and covers tastefully gilt, leading edges gilt, gilt inner dentelle, marbled endpapers. All edges gilt. Stored in custom-made marbled slipcase.

A fine, early Renaissance Latin manuscript containing excerpts from the third and fourth books of the "Liber specialis gratiae" of St Mechthild de Hackeborn (fols. 1r-5r, incipit: "Hec scripta sunt extracta ex visionibus beate machtildis virginis. Legitur in eisdem (etc.): Qui hec famula Dei oravit pro quadam persona que conquesta fuerat sui cordis merorem (etc)". The Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts lists only five other manuscripts of this work; the only similarly early example, now in the British Library (Egerton MS 2006), was owned by King Richard III of England (1452-85). The book of visionary bridal mysticism by the 13th century nun Mechtilde of Hackeborn was widely read in early modern times; nine editions were printed in the 16th century alone. She is sometimes identified with the "Matelda" mentioned in Dante's Purgatory (28, 40 ff.).

The remaining texts in this collection include the Meditations of St Bernard (5v-8r) and the "Hortulus Rosarum" of Thomas à Kempis (8v-36v).

Perfectly preserved in a flawless, outstanding deep red morocco binding by the eminent Belgian bookbinder Charles De Samblanx (1855-1943).