Birth scroll with prayers and invocations to Saints Quiricus and Julitta

  • Saints Quiricus & Julitta ( -304)
c. 1500
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


Scroll containing prayers and invocations to Saint Quiricus [Ciryk] and Saint Julitta [Julit], his mother: with other prayers and invocations against all evils spiritual and temporal, and for safe delivery in childbirth. In Latin and English, written partly in red and partly in black: badly rubbed, and probably with some text missing at the beginning and end.

The figures are all connected with the Passion of Jesus Christ, and are drawn in black or in red and black. All are very badly rubbed.

(1) The three Holy Nails with drops of blood: in black.

(2) The Instruments of the Passion: in black and red.

(3) The letters I.H.S. within a circle: in red and black.

(4) The same [I.H.S. monogram] in red within a flattened diamond-shaped figure; at the corners, the Five Wounds and the Blood: in red and black.

(5) A crucifix [Cross with a blue cross-bar]: on one side I.H.S., on the other XP: red and black.

(6) A diamond-shaped figure in red and black, very badly rubbed. It is inscribed 'Ecce Humo', and apparently contains a drawing of Christ standing.


The 12 [?] lines of script above the first Figure of Nails are not legible. The first 32 ll. are in red. Most of the text here is faint and rubbed. It is in English and begins with a blue initial: 'This crosse . . .' and ends: 'ffor seynt Ciryk and seynt Julit hys mother desyryd thes gyfts of Almyghty god and owre lorde Jhesu criste graunted hyt unto them and thys ys regestred at rome at seynt John lateranence [sic] in the pryncypall churche in Rome'. The following 17 lines are in black: Latin hymn to St. Quiricus beginning: 'Salve decus paruulorum myles regis angelorum O cirici cum beata genitrice matre tua Julitta' ... followed by a prayer asking for his intercession.

Below the second Figure of Instruments of the Passion, a prayer in red approximately 32 lines beginning 'This is the herte ? . . . The text here is very badly rubbed. Next follows an] Invocation of the Holy Names of God against all evils to God and His Angels and his Saints: this contains about 60 lines. A cross in red is written after the name of each of the attributes by which the Deity is addressed, and after the names of individual Angels and Saints, including Anna, Katyrina, Maria, Margaret, Dorothea, and Barbara.

The third Figure of the I.H.S. monogram has inscribed within the circle in red: 'Dominus vobiscum et cum spiritu tuo Initium sancti euangelii secundum Iohannem'. Below, 6 lines in red, beginning: 'The nomber off the dropys of the bloode off Jhesu all I wyll reherce in generall v hundert thousand for to tell...' [Cf. Middle English poem in New Haven, Beinecke Library, Takamiya MS 56 [roll] and Oxford, Tanner MS 407, fol. 10v]

Under the fourth figure of the I.H.S in Wound are four lines in red, beginning with blue initial: 'Ave vulnera lateris', these are followed by about 60 lines of text, which is totally illegible from rubbing.


Below the fifth figure of the Cross in red: 'Oratio beate marie' [?], and another prayer to the Blessed Virgin in English, and another in Latin, about 24 lines.

A heading in red: 'A prayer to oure lorde Jhesu' is followed by about 70 lines of text to the end of the scroll, all of which is wholly illegible: it includes the sixth Figure of Christ with drops of blood.

On the verso is a two line inscription in English (262 cm.), the beginning of which is badly rubbed '...hys dere mother owre blessyd lady seynt marye whych was wryttyn in letters of gold and send ffrome hevyn by an anngell to the pope Leo that tyme beying [?] at Rome and sayd to hym thys maner wyse: Who so beryth thys mesure [?] uppon hym wyth trewe fayth and good devocyon saying v pater nosters v aves and a credo in the worshypp of hym that thys mesure ys of he shall never be slayne in battel nor by no devyll be combryd [?] by day nor by nyght nor wyth thunder / ...nor wyth no [?] soden deth be smyttyn nor dye wythowte howsyll and shryft [?] nor byfore no juge wrongefuly dampned nor wyth no thevys be robbyd on see nor on lond nor perysshed wyth ffyer nor water nor blastys ne wyndys on water ne on lond shal not grew hym nor of the pestylence dye. And yf he be in dedly synne he shal not dye theryn. And he shall encreace in wordly goods. And yf a woman travell wyth chylde gyrdes thys mesure abowte hyr wombe and she shall be safe delyvyrd wythowte parelle and the chylde shall have crystendome and the mother puryfycatyon'.

This inscription is an epitome of the very largely illegible passages in the main text following the first Figure, in which are set out the Blessings and Protections given by the pious use of the Scroll. A second inscription (19 cm.), the first line in red with an initial T in blue and a cross in red at each end, seems to have been intended for a general title, but not completed. It reads: 'Thys moety[n] (measure) ys oure lady seynt mary [? cincture] length[?] by vertu of thys holy length[?] oure savyor Jhesu criste and of hys dere mother oure lady seynte'.

This item is in a very fragile condition. Unrolling and rolling the manuscript causes damage to the item and loss of pigmentation, even when handled delicately by our trained conservation team.

The cataloguer is grateful to Lea Olsan for her advice on the contents of this manuscript.


c. 1500

Physical description

1 volume Roll, 6 emblematic figures. 332 x 10 cm. On vellum: in four strips, sewn together, of which the first is shorter than the rest: a piece has been torn away from a corner at the end.

Acquisition note

Purchased at Sotheby's 13/12/1906, Lot 443.

Terms of use

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Finding aids

Database description transcribed from S.A.J. Moorat, Catalogue of Western Manuscripts on Medicine and Science in the Wellcome Historical Medical Library (London: Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 1962-1973).


Saints Quiricus [Ciricus, Cyricus, Cyriacus] the infant Martyr and his mother Julitta are said to have suffered and died in the Diocletian Persecution at Tarsus in 304, and are commemorated in the Martyrologies on June 16th. The so-called 'Acts' of St. Julitta were condemned as heretical by Pope St. Gelasius I [ -494].

According to Baring-Gould & Fisher Lives of the British Saints, 4 vols. 1908-13, these Saints were introduced to Britain by the Normans, and in Wales and Cornwall numerous churches were dedicated to them. It is stated [op. cit. Vol. II, p. 199, s. v. S. Curig], 'Owing to the popularity of SS. Cyriacus and Julitta among the Normans it is not possible to assert that all the churches dedicated to ... them have supplanted foundations of Curig'. In the same work, Vol. III, p. 335, s.v. S. Julitta, the entry begins 'The Saint Julitta of Tarsus and her son Cyriacus have assumed undue prominence in Cornwall...Both in Wales and elsewhere Quiricus [Cyriacus] seems to have become confused and assimilated with St. Curig'.

In this entry the name 'Quiricus' has been used, following the B.M. Catalogue, but it would seem that 'Cyriacus' or Cyricus are more commonly found.

As stated above, the text in this scroll is very badly rubbed, so that large sections are illegible. This most probably indicates that it was used as a 'Birth-girdle'. Similar girdles and rolls have been identified: New Haven, Beinecke Library, Takamiya 56; London, British Library, London, Harley Roll T 11; London, British Library, Harley Ch 43 A 14, a roll; Baltimore, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS Glazier 39; London, British Library, Additional 88929; Philadelphia, Redemptorist Archives of the Baltimore Province, olim Esopus; STC 14547.5 (British Library, MS Harley 5919, a printed roll) Cf. M. Morse, 'Takamiya 56 and the English Birth Girdle Tradition' in Middle English Texts in Transition: A Festschrift dedicated to Toshiyuki Takamiya on his 70th Birthday, ed. Simon Horobin and Linne Mooney, York: York Medieval Press, 2014, 199-219.] Other girdles are associated with St. Marguerite, Virgin and Martyr [ -275], especially in France. [Cf. Aymar (A.) Le sachet accoucheur et ses mystères, (Toulouse, 1926); and Dilling (W.H.), "Girdles", in The Caledonian Medical Magazine vol. IX, pp. 337-357, 403-425. 1913-14.]

Ownership note

From the Library of John Edward Gilmore of Bray [ -1906].


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Accession number

  • 17077