In my first post, I started searching online for a manuscript copy of BHL 6173, a miracle story about St Nicholas, in order to locate a copy of the text. I continued with this post, looking at two Austrian manuscripts. But then a kind commenter “Diego” here drew my attention to the Speculum Ecclesiae, or Mirror of the Church, by 12th century author Honorius of Augustodunensis, in the early 12th century. It’s worth looking a bit further, although this author is definitely too late for this blog.
This work is a collection of sermons, composed in England at Canterbury, for feast days in the medieval church year. Apparently it was rather successful, and a considerable number of manuscripts are known, including this list at Mirabile. Here, for instance, is a Canterbury manuscript now in the Parker Library. Material from it was also excerpted freely, and also translated into the vernacular. A number of the sermons have been translated at this blog. A bibliography is here.
It was printed for the first time by Jean Dietemberg at Cologne in 1531. On folio 208v of this edition here we find his sermon for St Nicholas’ Day (December 6); the “sermo de S. Nicolao”. Migne states that another edition appeared in 1544 at Basle, edited by Olearius who was unaware of the Cologne edition. However I cannot find any such publication, unless it is this, which does not contain the Speculum. Migne printed the text from a manuscript – apparently a Rhenoviensis 138 – in the Patrologia Latina 172, cols. 807-1107 (Speculum online here), with our sermo on col.1033. Migne certainly does not reprint the 1531 edition, as is obvious on fol. 210. I could find no sign of a modern edition of the text.
This sermon consists of a summary of legends of St Nicholas. And there, in the middle, we find BHL 6173; and immediately following it BHL 6175. These two pieces, listed by the Bollandists, are just extracts from Honorius’ sermon. They seem to have circulated separately, and this is why they have individual BHL numbers. But they really have no separate existence.
BHL 6173 has the incipit, “Quidam praepotens vir, accersito aurifice…”. BHL 6175: “Quidam locuples mercator…”. In Analecta Bollandiana 17, p.209, there is a list of the contents of the big, late-medieval legendaries – books of the legends of the saints – in Austria. Here BHL 6173 is given the title “The miracle of the vase of gold” while BHL 6175 is “St Nicholas invoked as a guarantor”.
This seems to make clear what our pieces are. Honorius abbreviated legends already in circulation for his sermo; and excerpts from his sermo then turn up in legendaries.
- Migne, PL, col.15-16.↩