BRADSHAW SOCIETY: The Antiphonary of Bangor An Early Irish Manuscript in the Ambrosian Library at Milan

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Part I: A complete facsimile in collotype by W. Griggs, with a transcription; accompanied by an introduction descriptive of the history and the palaeography of the manuscript. Part II: Liturgical Introduction to the Antiphonary of Bangor. Edited by Warren. Two volumes. London: [Printed by Harrison & Sons for the Henry Bradshaw Society], 1893. Quarto. Black cloth over bevelled boards, gilt badge of the Henry Bradshaw Society on upper covers. Ex libris St. Aidan’s College, with stamps; bookplate of the college on frontpastedown stamped ‘withdrawn.’ Spines of both volumes rebacked.
The Antiphonary of Bangor (Antiphonarium Monasterii Benchorensis) is an ancient Latin manuscript, originally written at Bangor Abbey, County Down. The codex, found by Muratori in the Ambrosian Library at Milan, and named by him the “Antiphonary of Bangor” (“Antiphonarium Benchorense”), was brought to Milan from Bobbio Abbey with many other books by Dr Federigo Cardinal Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan, when he founded the Ambrosian Library in 1609.
Bobbio, situated in a gorge of the Apennines thirty-seven miles north-east of Genoa, was founded by Saint Columbanus, a disciple of Saint Comgall, founder of the great monastery at Bangor, in County Down. Columbanus died at Bobbio and was buried there in 615. This establishes at once a connection between Bobbio and Bangor, and an examination of the contents of the codex placed it beyond all doubt that it was originally compiled in Bangor and brought thence to Bobbio, although not in the time of Saint Columbanus: there is in the codex a hymn entitled “ymnum sancti Congilli abbatis nostri”, and he is referred to in it as “nostri patroni Comgilli sancti”. Again there is a list of fifteen abbots, beginning with Comgall and ending with Cronan, the fifteenth abbot, who died in 691; the date of the compilation, therefore, may be referred to 680-691.
The actual bearer of the codex from Bangor is generally supposed and stated to have been Saint Dungal, who left Ireland early in the 9th century, acquired great celebrity on the Continent, and probably retired to Bobbio towards the close of his life. He bequeathed his books to “the blessed Columbanus”, i.e., to his monastery at Bobbio. Muratori is careful to state in his preface that the codex, though very old, and in part mutilated, may have been a copy made at Bobbio, by some of the local monks there, from the original service book. The Antiphonary is written in Latin, but contains strong internal evidence of its Irish origin. It is written, as regards the orthography, the form of the letters, and the dotted ornamentation of the capital letters, in “the Scottic style”, but this, of course, may have been done by Irish monks at Bobbio.

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