I’ve gathered nearly 50 miracle stories of St Nicholas, using the wonderful Bibliographica Hagiographica Latina (BHL) index. BHL 6173 (beginning “Quidam praepotens vir, accersito aurifice…“; “A certain powerful man, an accomplished goldsmith…”) is an epitome of BHL 6172, so the Bollandists did not trouble to print the text. So I need to look at the manuscripts of BHL 6173.
Fortunately the online database, BHLms, does give four results for this text:
- Paris BNF lat. 11570
- Paris BNF lat. 11576
- Heiligenkreuz SB 14
- Melk SB C.12
The last two institutions mean nothing to me as yet, but the BNF in Paris has loads of it mss online. Indeed I already have a download of 11570 in PDF form on my disk. I quickly acquire 11576. But… as I look at it, it becomes clear that the entry in BHLms for this manuscript is garbage. Something has gone wrong, although I have no idea who to report this to. For this is an unlisted copy of John the Deacon, BHL 6104-8, not BHL 6173.
BNF 11570 lists 4 miracle texts right at the end, on folios 253r-260r. The last of these is BHL 6173. But when I look at folio 253r, I find instead a copy of the Transitus of St Nicholas. It’s supposed to be BHL 6151, “Rursus autem alio tempore altera mulier de vico Neapoleos…”.
Instead that text appears under a numeral “II” on the last line of the page. The “transitus” appears to be a version of BHL 6154. So the two texts, as listed in BHLms, are reversed. This is not good news – it means that the catalogue is not reliable.
A casual search reveals that the numerals disappear, and the text becomes continuous. Thankfully the start of each sentence is capitalised. At fol. 260r there is nothing starting “Quidam”. Working back, no sentence starts thus. The text is simply not there.
The other two institutions are Austrian abbeys. I can’t recall how to locate these for the moment. I will go off and find out!