Diocese of Burgos [Spain], 15 October 1746. Illustrated manuscript vow of monastic service to the Order of Hieronymites, made on vellum, by Vincentius à Zubiaur from the Biscay region of Spain, after his one-year probation, this document officially making him a monk of the Diocese of Burgensis [Burgos], hand coloured, signed in the original by the new monk and also by two of his superiors who are named in the vow. With a second declaration to verso, uncoloured, made the following year by another member of the Order, Mathias de Nubla, and dated 29 October 1747. All text is in Latin. Item measures approximately 24,5 x 34 cm. A beautifully preserved document, of which seldom survive. The most prominent feature on the present manuscript are the large and striking red roses, which illustrate a "miracle of the roses" which is a manifestation of an activity of God or of a saint. By the twelfth century, the red rose had also come to represent Christ's passion, and the blood of the martyrs. The rose further symbolizes Virgin Mary, who is described as "The Rose without Thorns," based on the theory of third-century Saint Ambrose who believed that there were roses in the Garden of Eden, initially without thorns, until the "original sin." Committing to communal life and a noble purpose after having been immersed into learning and practicing the eremitic ways of life for one full year, with the present document, the writer professes permanent vows of obedience to the Church, which were once binding for life, and thus he becomes a true monk. He claims his entitlement to the status, by including the names of his parents, and by doing so, confirming that he is 'of free condition and born of a legitimate marriage,' which was a common condition of acceptance into several monastic orders in the Middle Ages and even into the Early Modern Period. He states his "completion of probation period," and declares his vows, which includes what is known presently as a "vow of stability." The latter is a commitment to remain at the same monastery, never seeking for a "better" place. As such, his vow is addressed namely to his two superiors and the monastery itself. He signs the bottom of the document, which is ratified by the two signatures of the named monks, who are in some form the head of the household.
Monastic life was a respected career choice, attracting among them, the second or third sons of the aristocracy, who were not likely to inherit their father's lands. They were often encouraged to join the church and one of the paths to a successful career was to join a monastery and receive an education there. The attraction to it varied, and was sometimes more than piety. The fact was, that there was the chance of real power if one rose to the top; and one was guaranteed decent accommodation and above average meals for life. As most monks came from a well-off background; indeed, bringing a substantial donation on entry was expected. Recruits tended to be local, as seen in the present document, but larger monasteries were able to attract people even from abroad.
Author Vincentius à Zubiaur
Condition Slightly age-toned, otherwise in very good condition