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Walters Ms. W.72, Speculum virginum

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Shelf mark



Speculum virginum

Text title
Dialogus Peregrini et Theodore


Supplied name: Conrad of Hirsau


This manuscript, written at the Cistercian abbey of Himmerode in Germany in the early thirteenth century, is one of twenty-two surviving Latin copies of the Speculum virginum, or Mirror for virgins. Attributed to Conrad of Hirsau, the text was written in the first half of the twelfth century as a guide for nuns, offering them theological lessons in the form of a hypothetical conversation between a teacher, Peregrinus, and his student, Theodora. The twelve illustrations in the manuscript portray the protagonists as well as the mystical visions and diagrams they discuss in the text. The large, expressive pen drawings bring the text to life and are an excellent example of German art of this period.


First quarter of the 13th century CE


Himmerode, Germany






The primary language in this manuscript is Latin.

Support material


Cream-colored parchment of medium thickness with a velvety finish; flyleaves and pastedowns of paper dating to at least the eighteenth century, based on an inscription from that era on flyleaf ii, r


Foliation: ii+124+ii

Two sets of foliation: occasional numbers in pencil in lower right corners of rectos and modern pencil foliation in upper right corners of rectos (followed here)


Formula: ii, 1(8,-1,2, 1 being replaced later), 2-6(8), 7(8,-4), 8-15(8), 16(8,-7,8), ii

Catchwords: None

Signatures: None

Comments: Quires begin on fols. 1(1), 8(2), 16(3), 24(4), 32(5), 40(6), 48(7), 55(8), 63(9), 71(10), 79(11), 87(12), 95(13), 103(14), 111(15), 119(16); fol. 1 a fifteenth-century replacement


22.8 cm wide by 31.2 cm high

Written surface

15.8 cm wide by 25.3 cm high

  1. Columns: 1-2
  2. Ruled lines: 32
  3. Lead-point ruling; layout does not apply to replacement leaf (fol. 1v), which has a written surface of 27.5 x 17.5 cm and 34 lines; fols. 121r-123r have text divided into two columns

fols. 1v - 124v:
  1. Title: Dialogus Peregrini et Theodore
  2. Incipit: Ultimus Christi pauperum C. virginibus sacris
  3. Text note: Incomplete; fol. 1 a fifteenth-century replacement for a lost opening page of text; folio missing between fols. 50 and 51; fols. 123r-124v contain definitions of virtues and vices preceded by a dialog between Peregrinus and Theodora (usually found in part four)
  4. Hand note: Written in Gothic bookhand
  5. Decoration note: Two images missing: Tree of Jesse at beginning (likely lost when the first folio was lost) and a diagram of wise and foolish virgins in part six (missing folio between fols. 50 and 51); eight full-page illustrations; two half-page illustrations; two small illustrations; miniatures are pen drawings in dark brown, red, and green ink with beige washes and accents of blue, green, and red paint; simple decorated initials in green, tan, and/or red periodically throughout the text (2 to 6 lines); red rubrics within the text and the side margins; verse capitals picked out with red marks; script embellished by elongated strokes into side margins; elongated ascenders and descenders in top and bottom margins; text in black ink


fol. 12r:

  1. W.72, fol. 12r
  2. Title: Mystic form of paradise
  3. Form: Half-page illustration
  4. Text: Speculum virginum: part 1

fol. 16v:

  1. W.72, fol. 16v
  2. Title: Peregrinus and Theodora
  3. Form: Small illustrations, 5 lines
  4. Text: Speculum virginum: part 3

fol. 25v:

  1. W.72, fol. 25v
  2. Title: Tree of vices
  3. Form: Full-page illustration
  4. Text: Speculum virginum: part 4

fol. 26r:

  1. W.72, fol. 26r
  2. Title: Tree of virtues
  3. Form: Full-page illustration
  4. Text: Speculum virginum: part 4

fol. 31r:

  1. W.72, fol. 31r
  2. Title: Victory of Humility over Pride
  3. Form: Full-page illustration
  4. Text: Speculum virginum: part 4

fol. 41r:

  1. W.72, fol. 41r
  2. Title: The Quadriga: Virgin and Child with John the Baptist and John the Evangelist
  3. Form: Full-page illustration
  4. Text: Speculum virginum: part 5

fol. 61r:

  1. W.72, fol. 61r
  2. Title: The thirty, sixty, and hundredfold fruits
  3. Form: Full-page illustration
  4. Text: Speculum virginum: part 7

fol. 73r:

  1. W.72, fol. 73r
  2. Title: The flesh and the spirit
  3. Form: Full-page illustration
  4. Text: Speculum virginum: part 8

fol. 82v:

  1. W.72, fol. 82v
  2. Title: The ladder of St. Perpetua
  3. Form: Full-page illustration
  4. Text: Speculum virginum: part 9

fol. 98r:

  1. W.72, fol. 98r
  2. Title: Christ in Majesty flanked by Mary, John the Evangelist, and saints with a kneeling monk
  3. Form: Half-page illustration
  4. Text: Speculum virginum: part 10

fol. 104r:

  1. W.72, fol. 104r
  2. Title: Seven forms of the spirit
  3. Form: Full-page illustration
  4. Text: Speculum virginum: part 11


The binding is not original.

Sixteenth- or seventeenth-century boards covered in red velvet and embellished with a thirteenth-century Limoges champlevé enamel crucifix by Léon Gruel in the late nineteenth century


Written in the early thirteenth century, most likely at the Cistercian abbey of Himmerode in Wittlich, Germany; was there at least by the fifteenth century (erased ownership note, "Liber monachorum sancte Marie in hymmenrode ordinis Cisterciensis Treverensis dyocesis," folio 1r; shelfmark "C.I."); was at Himmerode through at least the eighteenth century (inscription from that period by a Himmerode librarian on front flyleaf ii, r)

Josef von Görres collection, Germany, nineteenth century until Görres collection sale, Munich, 1902, Catal.libr.mss. no. 76 (no. 71 in unpublished, pre-1844 catalog of manuscripts when kept in Koblenz by Ernst Dronke)

Julien Chappée, Le Mans and Paris, purchased from Görres collection in 1902, lot 76, p. 14

Gruel and Engelmann collection, Paris, 1903, no. 88 (bookplate on front pastedown)

Acquired by Henry Walters, Baltimore, from Gruel and Engelmann on June 9, 1903 (bookplate on front pastedown)


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters bequest


Schneider, Ambrosius. "Skriptorium und Bibliothek der Cistercienserabtei Himmerod im Rheinland." Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 35 (1952): 155-205, no. 27.

Hauck, Karl. Catalogus librorum manuscriptorum e Bibliotheca Goerresiana. Munich: Druck v. G. Schuh and Cie, 1902, p. 14, no. 76.

Miner, Dorothy. "Lecture on Himmerod and its Manuscripts." Bulletin of the Walters Art Gallery 24 (1972): 1, 4.

Religious Art of the Western World, March 23-May 25, 1958. Dallas: Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, 1958, no. 263.

Schneider, Ambrosius. Skriptorium und Bibliothek der Abtei Himmerod: ein Beitrag zur Geistesgeschichte des Eifelklosters. Himmerod, Germany: Himmerod-Drucke, 1974, p. 29, no. 32.

Curschmann, Michael. "Imagined Exegesis: Text and Picture in the Exegetical Works of Rupert of Deutz, Honorius Augustodunensis, and Gerhoch of Reichersberg." Traditio 44 (1988): 145-169, no. 53.

Jacobs, Emile. "Die Handschriftensammlung Joseph Gorres." Zentralblatt fur Bibliothekswesen 23 (1906): 192, no. 2.

Seyfarth, Jutta. Speculum Virginum. Turnhout, Belgium: Rypographi Brepol Editores Pontofivii, 1990, pp. 71-72.

Watson, Arthur. "A Manuscript of the Speculum Virginium in the Walters Art Gallery." Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 10 (1947): 61-74, figs. 2-6, 8-11, 13-15.

De Ricci, Seymour. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. Vol. 1. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935, p. 822, no. 393.


Cataloger: Walters Art Museum curatorial staff and researchers since 1934

Editors: Herbert, Lynley; Noel, William

Copy editor: Bockrath, Diane

Conservators: Owen, Linda; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Bockrath, Diane; Davis, Lisa Fagin; Dutschke, Consuelo; Emery, Doug; Hamburger, Jeffrey; Klemm, Elizabeth; Noel, William; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.