Top of page

Raymond of Peñafort – Pic of the Week

Share this post:

January 6 was the anniversary of the death of Raymond of Peñafort (1175-1275), compiler of the Decretales of Gregory IX, also known as Liber Extra—one of the most important works in the history of the canon law of the Catholic Church. In light of the occasion, we thought we might take this opportunity to introduce three items related to the Liber Extra that the Law Library was fortunate to acquire in 2017.

Raymond of Penafort as depicted in the frontispiece of Su[m]mula … Raymu[n]di, breuissimo [com]pendio sacrame[n]toru[m] alta co[m]plectens misteria, by Adam Coloniensis, Cologne, Heinrich Quentell, 25 Jan. 1495.  [Photo by Marianna Stell]
Raymond of Peñafort was a jurist and a professor of canon law in Barcelona and Bologna. At the height of his career, his reputation for learning gained him the attention of Pope Gregory IX (ca. 1145-1241). Pope Gregory appointed him to collect and consolidate a number of legal sources, including the papal decretal letters that had been issued since the publication of Gratian’s Decretum of ca. 1150. Preexisting compilations of church decrees contained voluminous, disorganized, and sometimes contradictory orders. The Pope declared it the purpose of Raymond’s work to address this difficulty. To that end, he decreed that only Raymond’s compilation was authoritative. The result of Raymond’s work, the Liber extravantium decretalium (1234), or as it is often called Decretales of Gregory IX, remained an authoritative source of law for nearly 700 years until 1917, when the Catholic Church adopted a new code of canon law. It is interesting to note that the Catholic Church recognizes Raymond of Peñafort as the patron saint of canon lawyers.

Last year, the Law Library acquired an extremely scarce incunabular edition of the Decretales. It was printed in Venice in 1498. The Incunabula Short Title Catalog locates only one other copy of this edition. The volume is bound in blind-tooled pigskin on wooden boards and retains its clasps.

Visible in this photo are the clasps on the 1498 Venice edition of the Decretales of Gregory IX  [Photo by Donna Sokol]
Decretales: cum summariis suis et textuum diuisionibus ac etiam rubricarum continuationibus. Venice: Baptista de Tortis, 1498.

Incunabular edition of the Decretales open to the first printed page [Photo by Donna Sokol]
Another important acquisition for 2017 was a remarkable late-thirteenth century manuscript of Bernard of Parma’s gloss on the Decretales of Gregory IX. Bernard of Parma, or as he is also known, Bernard of Botone (d. 1263 or 1266), was a professor of canon law at the University of Bologna and eventually the chancellor of that university. His commentary on Liber Extra, which he completed just before his death, was his most important work. This item is a decorated manuscript on vellum, probably produced in the latter quarter of the thirteenth century. It is bound in late-medieval blind-tooled pigskin. There is a medieval metal boss on the front board as well as the stubs of two clasps. The binding’s most interesting feature is a horn nameplate on the front board under which is visible a notation of the work’s name and author.

Late-medieval pigskin binding with horn plate and metal boss on Glossa Ordinaria of Bernard of Parma [Photo by Donna Sokol]
Botone, Bernard of. Glossa ordinaria on Gregory IX’s Decretales of Gregory IX. Medieval manuscript, Germany, ca. 1290AD.

First leaf of Glossa Ordinaria of Bernard of Parma [Photo by Donna Sokol]
The Law Library also acquired a manuscript containing an unedited and unidentified copy of a commentary on Book II of the Decretales of Gregory IX. The commentary is attributed to Petrus de Perusio, a name that may refer to a member of the famous Perugian family of canon lawyers of which the most important figure is Baldus de Ubaldi. The Petrus mentioned in this document may be Petrus de Ubaldis Junior, a nephew of Baldus de Ubaldis. The manuscript is on paper and is written in a dark brown ink in a hasty cursive.

First leaf of Commentarium super Decretales Gregorii IX of Petrus de Perusio [Photo by Donna Sokol]
Commentarium super Decretales Gregorii IX or Lectura super quibusdam titulis lib. II. Decretalium Gregorii IX. In Latin, manuscript on paper. 1385-1397.


Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.