John of Freiburg, Summa Confessorum f.1r
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
In the 12th century, John of Freiburg was lector (reader) at the Dominican house at Freiburg. The Dominicans were a preaching order who were concerned with dogma. Beginning by indexing an important work on penance by Raymond of Penafort, John carried out the ideals of his order by expanding Raymond's book into a larger 'Summa Confessorum' (roughly translated as 'Concise Book on Confession and Penance') so that it included a huge range of material, arranged alphabetically. An aid to preachers and teachers which put the latest theological ideas into simpler form, it proved successful. More than two hundred manuscripts of it survive. This manuscript of it belonged to the abbey of St Albans, where it would have been used as a reference for composing sermons and teaching.
The book begins with a long title in red writing (rubric) and a historiated initial (first letter bearing a picture) of John of Freiburg teaching a group of attentive students. This page has the introduction and beginning of the prologue. In the lower margin, an inscription states that the manuscript belongs to St Albans Abbey and pronounces an anathema or curse on anyone who tries to steal it.