Tobias Kanngießer has produced a splendid critical edition of an interesting liturgical text. He completed this project as his doctoral dissertation in medieval church history with the Catholic theological faculty at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn under Prof. Dr. Gisela Mischiol. As Doktorand he also worked in the Arbeitsstelle für Theologische Genderforschung directed by Mischiol and in the Arbeitskreis of tour guides at the Museum Schnütgen (housed in St. Cecilia itself since 1956), which provided valuable research contexts for his dissertation project. This published version is slightly revised and includes an expanded index.

In the origins of this volume we find yet another consequence of the collapse of Cologne’s Stadtarchiv in 2009, which has inhibited many a dissertation proposal in the intervening years. The rich Stadtarchiv collections of St. Cecilia (HASK Bestand 207 Sankt Cäcilien and Bestand 270 Kloster Weiher) include antiphonary, missal, prayer books, litanies, diurnals, Totenbücher, and statute books, but these were now mostly available only in poor quality and often just unreadable microfilm. This catastrophe forced Kanngießer to abandon his planned study of relations between the women’s cloister of St. Cecilia and the adjoining parish church St. Peter (the ensemble of cloister and parish churches was quite common in medieval Cologne, with this one being the last surviving example).

A viable alternative presented itself by the unintended consequences of modern antiquarian interests: a Liber Ordinarius from the year 1488 had survived from St. Cecilia and is now owned by the Staats- und Universitäts-Bibliothek Hamburg (cod. scrin. 94), and thus was not among the ruins of the Cologne Stadtarchiv. So, through a rather circuitous route, another chapter in the history of medieval Cologne has now been published.

Rather than providing extensive textual or historical footnotes as part of an apparatus criticus, Kanngießer has provided a comprehensive 162-page introductory commentary with chapters on (a) the history of St. Cecilia as a cloister first for noble canonesses and then for reformed Augustinian canonesses, (b) the Liber Ordinarius itself (authorship, description of contents, scripts, binding, ownership, etc.), (c) other archival sources used to illuminate the text, (d) on the liturgy of the Liber Ordinarius, and (e) on the individuals and officials named in the text. Significant insights into Cologne’s religious and social history emerge from this liturgical text. In decline since its 13th-century height as a community of noblewomen, by 1474 St. Cecilia was only inhabited by an aged abbess (Elisabeth von Reichenstein) and one novice. It was ripe for reform, and occasion was provided when a community of Augustinian burgher women, recently influenced by the Windesheim reform movement, suffered the dismantlement of their cloister outside the walls of the city (it had been dedicated to St. Mary and known as »Weiher« or Ad Piscinam) as a result of the Neuss War (a. k. a. the Burgundian War) of 1474–1475. The Augustinian canonesses at first found a hostile reception as refugees in the city, and their relocation after a year of vagrancy to the empty St. Cecilia in the summer of 1475 was resisted by the aristocratic abbess Elisabeth von Reichenstein until her dying day.

Yet in time the Weiher canonesses did assimilate into both St. Cecilia and the city as a whole. They did so by integrating their reformed Augustinianism with a full embrace the traditions of the city’s vast community of patron saints, such as the bishop-saint Evergislus whose body had been translated into St. Cecilia’s own crypt back in the 9th century. As reformed canonesses they had also incorporated a monastic commitment to communal liturgical prayer, and once a flood of remodeling patronage from city and pilgrims (1475–1483) had enabled the restructuring of the sanctuary to enable such canonical prayers, the need for a new Liber Ordinarius was apparent in 1488, after 13 years in their new home within the city walls. The Liber can also be understood as part of the reforming process attendant with the renewal of St. Cecilia under Augustinian canonesses, since it followed directly after the death of the recalcitrant abbess Elisabeth in 1486 and the 1487 renewal statutes for a now fully Augustinian community.

We also learn the name of the author and of her Cologne context. Goetgine Busschop self-identifies as the author of the Liber Ordinarius in the colophon and then describes herself as a dedicated Augustinian and the prioress of the cloister »worthy of honor«. Her sense of honor came not only from her leadership role in the convent, but also from her family of origin. Goetgine’s father Johannes Busschop was a famous burgher who led the city defenses at its imposing Hahnenpforte. His was a »new family« which had risen to wealth and prominence after the regime of old-line Geschlechter families had been removed from civic hegemony in 1396. There were many males of the Busschop family in the Rat (City Council) and Schöffen colleges (lay assessors and judges) in both the electorate and civic courts.

Goetgine had three sisters who were also leading religious lives in Cologne: Stingin as a Franciscan conventual in St. Agatha while Engin and Lisbeth were Cistercian nuns in St. Mariengarten/St. Maria ad Ortum. As prioress, Goetgine oversaw liturgical singing and reading in the daily offices, which made her the key person to produce the Liber Ordinarius. Yet her production of the Liber also indicates to us the level of Latin literacy, liturgical knowledge, and communal authority possessed by burgher class women in Cologne in the era after the fall of the Geschlechter regime. It is this kind of illuminating historical research that gives contextual meaning to the text, whose editing is consistent, clearly indicated, and well documented over an additional 163 pages.

Of special interest are the detailed sections of the text describing the feast days of the cloister’s patron saints (St. Cecilia: 22 November, St. Everlislus: 24 October, Translatio of St. Evergislus: 28 March, St. Paulinus Levita: 4 March, Translatio of St. Paulinus Levita: 6 August) and describing the public processions performed throughout the liturgical year (Sundays in Eastertide, Rogation Days, Feasts of the Ascension, Corpus Christi, Purificatio Mariae, and St. Mark), as these were the points in liturgical time when the cloistered women of St. Cecilia both reiterated their distinctive communal identity and then folded it into the larger ritual life of the city itself. Begun in the 9th century, reformed in the late 15th century by a new community of Augustinian canonesses (themselves formed originally in 1198), St. Cecilia had in spite of unpromising beginnings succeeded in reform such that by as soon as 1480 the community had swelled to 80 conventuals. It would continue as a canonical house until being secularized in 1802.

This monograph appears as volume 44 of the venerable series »Studien zur Kölner Kirchengeschichte« produced by the Historisches Archiv des Erzbistums Köln, which also provided significant financing. In keeping with the tradition of high quality volumes in this series, Tobias Kanngießer has benefitted from a sizeable volume enabled by a very readable font size, clean page layout, solid binding stitching, and no less than thirty plates of exceptionally attractive color photographs. This is a worthy new volume to the series, and one that will be of interest not just to liturgical scholars.

Zitationsempfehlung/Pour citer cet article:

Joseph P. Huffman, Rezension von/compte rendu de: Tobias Kanngießer, »Hec sunt festa que aput nos celebrantur«. Der Liber Ordinarius von Sankt Cäcilien, Köln (1488), Siegburg (Verlag Franz Schmitt) 2017, 447 S., 30 Abb. (Studien zur Kölner Stadtgeschichte, 44), ISBN 978-3-87710-460-6, EUR 34,90., in: Francia-Recensio 2019/1, Mittelalter – Moyen Âge (500–1500), DOI: