Missale Trajectense

Many missals have been printed and, one might be inclined to add, many more have disappeared. In 1910 Bonaventura Kruitwagen, the bibliographer, discovered a pair of printed conjugate vellum leaves that had been used in the binding of a medieval manuscript. He wrote a splendid article, establishing that it must have been part of an otherwise unknown missal, printed in Louvain by Johannes de Westfalia, and intended for the diocese of Liège. Till far into the sixteenth century, before the uniformity imposed by Rome, every region, diocese, or monastic order had its own missal, which contained certain specific texts. Twenty years after Kruitwagen Dr Kronenberg discovered 158 leaves from the same missal in the library of the Royal House Archives, but no complete copy has so far been found.

Missals are used by priests in the church liturgy every day of the week, so there must have been innumerable copies. Yet very few editions of the missal for the use of Utrecht (cf. the opposite page) are known to have existed, of which very few actual copies have been preserved. Printing missals is a complex task. Prompt and easy use in sometimes dark churches required clear typography, large typeface and a text that was structured by red printing. The first missal to be used in Utrecht was printed around 1480 in Cologne by Conrad Winters de Homborch, who had already gained experience with missals by printing one intended for use in Cologne. The Delft printer of the two subsequent Utrecht missals, probably published much later, in 1495, bought a large typeface from him.

Meanwhile Paris had become a centre of liturgical printing, where also missals for Utrecht were made. After two Paris editions it was only in 1514 that an Utrecht missal was printed again in the Netherlands, by the Leiden printer Jan Seversz. He had mastered the art of printing in red and black, had different typefaces and a large supply of initials and woodblocks for illustrations. Among them were six woodcuts, probably designed by the painter and engraver Lucas van Leyden, a full-page crucifixion and five smaller ones: the coronation of Mary, the Infant Jesus, the resurrection, Whitsun, and the birth of Christ, which is shown here.

Missale Trajectense. Leiden, Jan Seversz, 1514. 2º, 310 (-1) leaves. - 226 A 3, fol. b2r

Missale Trajectense. Leiden, Jan Seversz, 1514. 2º, 310 (-1) leaves. - 226 A 3, fol. b2r


B. Kruitwagen, ‘Een Missale Leodiense gedrukt door Johannes de Westfalia te Leuven’, in: Tijdschrift voor boek- en bibliotheekwezen 8 (1910), p. 49-71
M.E. Kronenberg, ‘Het Missale Leodiense’, in: Het Boek 19 (1930), p. 55-64
Lucas van Leyden-grafiek (1489 of 1494-1533) met een complete oeuvre-catalogus van zijn gravures, etsen en houtsneden. Amsterdam 1978, p. 91.