Christopherus (Laurentii) de Holmis

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by Alexander Andrée

Christopherus (Cristoferus, Christophorus) Wyß (Witte, Wicte) de Holmis (“from Stockholm”), born probably before 1400, died 19 August 1464, student at Erfurt and Rostock 1419-1426, student of theology at Leipzig 1426-1438 and at the same time advisor to the archbishop of Uppsala, Olaus Laurentii (Olof Larsson, 1432-1438), dean of the philosophical faculty at Leipzig 1437, licentiate in theology at Leipzig 24 February 1438 and rector of that university during the summer term of the same year, master of theology in August 1438, then scholasticus at Uppsala Cathedral and in 1442 archdeacon.


Christopherus is known to us through diplomatic sources, university rolls, notes in manuscripts, two letters and surviving works.


As Christopherus, the son of a Stockholm family, was immatriculated at Erfurt University in 1419, he is likely to have been born not long before the year 1400. His family name, Wyß, is attested to in university rolls (ERLER 1895 & 1897) and in an owner’s note in the manuscript Leipzig, Universitätsbibliothek, 1263 (“Istud volumen est … comparatum et emptum … anno Domini m° cccc° xxxvii in decanatu magistri Cristofori Wyß de holmis in swecia de nacione Saxonum”). In 1420 he moved from Erfurt to the University of Rostock, where he was immatriculated 2 December and made magister artium around 18 February 1425. In the spring of 1426 we find him as a student of theology in Leipzig – a migration explainable by the fact that the former university lacked a faculty of theology until 1431 – and on 22 May the same year he is listed among the masters of the arts faculty of the same university. During the contest between King Erik XIII (styled Erik of Pomerania) and the chapter of Uppsala concerning the election and consecration of Olaus Laurentii as archbishop, he took the side of Olaus. As a canon of the chapter he took part in his election on 12 February 1432, and followed the archbishop into exile to Rome in 1433. In 1434-1435 he was the legate of the still exiled archbishop at the Council of Basel (FERM 2004). In 1435, as the archbishop was able to return to his see, Christopherus resumed his theological studies in Leipzig, where, in 1436, he was examinator for the bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He lectured as cursor biblicus on parts of the New Testament from 29 October 1435 to 21 June 1436, and as sententiarius on Peter Lombard’s Sententiae from 26 June 1436 (according to notes in the manuscript Strängnäs, Cathedral Library, fol. 10, see Works). During the period 1435-1438, he preached five university sermons, four of which were held in the Leipzig church of St. Nicolas, and one in the convent of the Franciscans. He was dean of the arts faculty in the summer term of 1437, and rector of the university in the summer term of 1438. After acquiring the licentiate in theology 24 February 1438, according to manuscript evidence, he delivered the exercises in connection with his admittance to the mastership in theology, that is the disputations in vesperiis and in aula, on 8 and 12 August 1438 respectively (ANDRÉE forthc.). In 1438 he seems to have returned to Uppsala, where he served as scholasticus and archdeacon (from 1442) until his death in 1464. In 1445, together with two other clerics, he was appointed papal tax collector for the three Nordic kingdoms. In his capacity as scholasticus Christopherus may have reused the glosses on the New Testament that he had composed at Leipzig University, which survive and are today kept in the Cathedral library at Strängnäs. If this is correct, he belongs to those paving the way for the University of Uppsala, founded a few years after his death (in 1477). In the sources he is often referred to as “professor sacre theologie” (e.g. Stockholm, National Archives, Riksarkivets pergamentbrev 20 July 1444, 30 April 1445). Importantly enough, Christopherus was the first man from Scandinavia known to have served as the rector of a continental university, and his university sermons and disputations, delivered in Leipzig as part of his promotion as master of theology, are the oldest examples of academic writing we have preserved by a Swede. Apart from the Latin works mentioned below, Christopherus is known as a translator and commentator of catechetical texts for use by parochial clergy (CARLSSON 1929, KILSTRÖM 1958, LOSMAN 1970).


The preserved writings of Christopherus Laurentii comprise academic sermons and disputations, biblical glosses and letters.

Academic sermons and disputations

Transcripts in the Liber sermonum facultatis theologice studii Lipczensis and in the Liber questionum facultatis theologice (see Medieval reception and transmission) of five sermons preached at the University of Leipzig, probably in the years 1435-1436, and two disputations, held at the occasion of the vesperiae and aula ceremonies at Christopher’s promotion to master of theology in 1438. By the sumptuous quotations from a wide range of authorities, the sermons display the author’s comprehensive knowledge of the depositum of the Church. The most frequently quoted authors are Bernard of Clairvaux, Gregory the Great, Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, Cassiodorus, John Chrysostom, Bede, Isidore, Peter Lombard, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Hugh and Richard of St Victor, the Glossa ordinaria, as well as Seneca, Cicero, Lactantius and, surprisingly, Francis Petrarch. The sermons and disputations, which were part of the curriculum to obtain the higher theological degrees, are directed to the college of masters and students of the University of Leipzig. Apart from no. 5, which was held in the Franciscan convent, all sermons were preached in the church of St Nicolas, Leipzig. There are no indications as to where the disputations were held; probably they took place in the same place. Quoting Petrarch in this context and at this time testifies to the preacher’s advanced tastes and may imply an early and unusual interest in Italian humanism. The disputations in vesperiis and in aula, together with the licentiate known as the inceptio, comprise the concluding steps of a theologian’s education, and were delivered as part of his promotion to master (or doctor) of theology. (1) For Christmas Day (1435?) Title Sermo magistri Christofori de Holmis Incipit Natus est Iesus. Ita scribitur Mt primo originaliter et in hodierne festivitatis matutinali officio recitatum est in gallicantu leccionaliter. Explicit Ergo propter temetipsum esto nobis Iesus, nos hic salvans per graciam et in futuro per gloriam, ad quam nos perducas, qui hodie natus est Iesus, vivens et regnans cum Patre et Spiritu sancto per infinita secula seculorum. Amen. (2) For ‘feria V post Invocavit’, i.e. Thursday after the first Sunday of Lent (1436?) Title Item sequitur sermo per eundem factus in missa universitatis studii Lipczensis Incipit Veritas liberabit vos. Ita scribitur Iohannis viii originaliter et in ewangelio hodierno secundum ordinarium et conswetudinem metropolis ecclesie Swecane legitur doctrinaliter. Explicit Revertamur igitur de regione longinqua peccatorum dissimilitudinis viciorum, de Babilone superbie, de Caldea avaricie, de Egipto ydolatrie, ad sacramentum salutaris penitencie, ut per eam mereamur ire ad celestem gloriam. Quam nobis concedere dignetur Dominus Iesus Christus cum Deo Patre et Spiritu sancto super omnia benedictus. Amen. (3) For Easter Sunday (1436?) Title Sermo factus per magistrum Cristoferum scolasticum ecclesie Upsaliensis Incipit Iesum queritis Nazarenum, Mc ultimo. Beatus Gregorius dicit in omelia: Iesum queritis Nazarenum. Iesus latino eloquio salutaris, id est salvator, interpretatur. Explicit Sancta enim conversacio secundum Ysidorum secundo libro soliloquiorum confudit inventum [pro inimicum], edificat proximum et glorificat Deum. Qui trinus et unus vivit benedictus in eternum. Amen. (4) For Pentecost Day, 1436 Title Sermo factus per magistrum Cristoferum in die penthecostes ad clerum anno etcetera 36 Incipit Ille vos docebit omnia. Ita scribitur Ioh 14 originaliter et lectum est in presentis sollempnitatis missali officio doctrinaliter. Explicit Iam Spiritus Domini replevit orbem terrarum. Nichil deest, nisi quod habeat scienciam vocis, quam operetur in animabus Spiritus sanctus infundendo claritatem in <in>tellectum, caritatem in affectum, facultatem et facilitatem in effectum cum Patre et Filio eternaliter benedictus. Amen. (5) For the fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost (1436?) Title Sermo factus per magistrum Cristoferum in missa universitatis in claustro minorum in rectorate Arnoldi westfal. Incipit Primum querite regnum Dei. Ita scribitur Mt vi et lectum est in currentis dominice ewangelio. Explicit Dilige verbum, in quo sunt omnia, et ibi fige cor tuum et desiderium. Nam felices illius civitatis cives, cuius participes sunt in idipsum. Mundus enim transit et concupiscencia eius. Cuius civitatis felicis nos consortes faciat, qui sine fine vivit et regnat. Amen. (6) Disputation in vesperiis, Friday 8 August 1438 Title In vesperiis magistri Cristoferi de Holmis feria sexta ante Laurencii anno Domini 1438 Incipit Utrum caritas existens virtus theologica de necessitate salutis requiratur, ut Deus super omnia diligatur. Contra suppositum: quod non est una virtus non est. ‘Virtus’ et ‘una virtus’ convertuntur. Explicit Corollarium secundum: non omne obiectum alicuius actus patitur ab eodem vel secundum eundem. Patet quia Deus est obiectum actus deliberati, quia diligitur, et tamen ipse est inpassibilis quia inmutabilis, xii Metaphysice, Malachi iii, et Iacob 1. Et tantum de ista questione. (7) Disputation in aula, Tuesday 12 August 1438 Title In aula eiusdem feria tercia post Laurencii Incipit Ad laudem et honorem benedicte et individue trinitatis, Patris et Filii et Spiritis sancti, glorioseque virginis Marie patronorumque meorum Laurencii et Erici martirum, necnon tocius celestis curie ac pro felici incremento huius almi universitatis Lipizensis, in hoc actu Deo cooperante tria per me sunt facienda. Explicit Non enim de aliis scientiis dicitur sed de ista sola per psalmum: Beatus quem tu erudieris, et de lege tua docueris eum, Psalmus 93. Que lex potest salvare animas, cum suscipiunt insitum verbum, quare merito in principio dixi: Suscipite insitum verbum, quod potest salvare animas. --- Size The sermons and disputations together comprise ca. 120 printed pages Editions Excerpt of sermo 1 edited in BUCHWALD 1916, p. 73 f. • ANDRÉE forthc., with commentary Translations (English) ANDRÉE forthc. Medieval reception and transmission The sermons and disputations are preserved on folios 41v-56r (items 1 & 2; fol. 55 skipped), 76v-86v (3, 4 & 5), 253r-57v (6 & 7) in the manuscript Leipzig, Universitätsbibliothek, 866, which contains both the Liber sermonum facultatis theologice studii Lipczensis and the Liber questionum facultatis theologice (according to rubrics on fol. 1r and 242r). (2) Biblical glosses Glosses, interlinear and marginal, on Acts, the Pauline Epistles and the Canonical Epistles, probably taken down as reportationes from Christopher’s cursus on this part of the New Testament in Leipzig 29 October 1435 to 21 June 1436. The texts of the cursus and the glosses occur in the canonical order of the New Testament with the exception of Acts, which is placed after Hebrews. The cursus thus begins with Romans and ends with Jude, and has the following incipits and explicits: Incipits (1) (Romans, text): Incipit argumentum in epistolam beati pauli apostoli ad romanos. Romani sunt partes ytalie. Hii preventi sunt a falsis apostolis et sub nomine domini nostri iesu christi in legem et prophetas erant inducti. Hos revocat apostolus ad veram ewangelicamque fidem scribens eis a Chorintho. Incipit epistola beati pauli apostoli ad romanos. Capitulum primum. Paulus servus iesu christi vocatus apostolus … (2) (marg. gloss, head of page): Nota causa efficiens istius epistole est christus principaliter sed apostolus ministerialiter; (marg. gloss, right margin): Nota argumentum uno modo capitur proprie, alio modo transumptive. (3) (interl. gloss): [Paulus:] Saulus vocatus actibus 8°, sed Pa[u]lus actibus xiii; persona salutans; [servus iesu christi:] verus christianus; [apostolus:] ab officii dignitate apostolus. Explicits (1) Jude, text): soli Deo salvatori nostro per Iesum Christum dominum nostrum gloria, magnificencia, imperium et potestas ante omnia secula et nunc et in omnia secula seculorum. (2) (marg. gloss): et coagulum caritatis non habent. Hec glossa ordinaria. (3) (interl. gloss): [potestas:] in punicione malorum et premia racione bonorum. Size The parts of the codex containing Christopher’s glosses comprise 188 folios. Editions The biblical glosses have not been edited nor studied in detail. Medieval reception and transmission The biblical glosses are preserved in the manuscript Strängnäs, Cathedral Library, fol. 10, on fols. 88r-276v with Acts occurring after Hebrews. The dates of the lecture cycle are noted in the manuscript as follows: On fol. 276v: Explicit epistola sancti iude apostoli anno domini M°CD°XXXV dominica prima adventus. Et eodem anno in crastino apostolorum symonis et iude magister cristoferus de holmis incipiens cursum suum principiavit in canonicas apostolorum et finivit canonicam iude feria sexta post andree et sabato sequenti incepit apostolum ad romanos. On fol. 110v: Magister cristoferus de holmis incepit epistolam beati pauli apostoli Ad Romanos Anno domini MCD°XXXV in profesto beate barbare virginis et finivit anno eodem in vigilia nativitatis domini pro pro quo [propter quod Aminson] laudetur deus Amen. On fol. 254v: Magister Cristoferus finivit actus apostolorum feria quinta ante nativitatis festum iohannis baptiste Anno domini MCD°XXXVI et feria tercia sequenti principiavit in primum librum sentenciarum. The “erroneous” chronology of the lecture series as displayed by the manuscript is probably accountable to the fact that the Bible text of the manuscript was copied in its entirety before the notes were taken down. The glosses on the Apocalypse which in the manuscript follow upon those on the Canonical Epistles are probably not by Christopherus, but perhaps by Kort Rogge, Bishop of Strängnäs (see AMINSON 1863, p. XLII). (3) Letters (1) A long letter to Archbishop Olof of Uppsala, written in Basel not before 18 June 1434, containing sundry counsels to the Archbishop about his dealings with the Council of Basel. Incipit Obedienciam etc. Reuerende pater, licet certus et indubitatus essetis, quod papa vellet statum vestrum immutare, quod nullomodo credo … Explicit Superficialiter scribo vobis compotum faciendo, si volueritis, exacte et singulariter scribam vobis singula exposita. Size The letter comprises seven printed pages. (2) Another, shorter, letter to Bishop Nils of Linköping, dated Basel 21 November 1434, concerning the bishop’s actions at the Council. On the back of this document, there are diary notes about the entrance of the English and Spaniards at the council of Basel in August 1434, which, according to LOSMAN 1970, p. 175 n. 47, probably were made by Christopherus. Incipit Ego Cristoferus Laurencii, canonicus ecclesie Vpsalensis, anno dominij 1434, 21 die nouembris, hora x vel quasi … Explicit Et si debeam vtique vrgente necessitate, dimittam illum, a quo minus habeo. Size The letter comprises one printed page. Editions LINDBLOM 1903, 123-30 and 135-36. Medieval reception and transmssion The letters are extant only in one copy each, Stockholm, National Archives, Riksarkivets pergamentbrev 22169 and 22257. (4) Cathechetical works According to KILSTRÖM 1958, 100-1, Christopherus is the author of a now lost catechetical exposition of the Creed, the Lord’s prayer and the Hail Mary in Swedish. KILSTRÖM bases his assumption on the note in the manuscript Uppsala, University Library C 50, fol. 125r, mentioning an exposition by Christopher, archdeacon of Uppsala, “Huru mænniskian skal bidhia til gudh mædh pater noster och Aue Maria til jomffrw Maria och tro xij stykke i the hælgha troo æptir thy doctor christoforus archydiaconus upsalensis wænde thæt uppa swænska.” As the folios immediately following upon this note (125v-28v) are blank, there is reason to believe that the mentioned exposition was meant to be copied into the codex, which, however, never happened. Bibliography AMINSON, H. 1863: Bibliotheca templi cathedralis Strengnesensis … 2: Supplementum, continens codices manu scriptos …, Stockholm. • ANDRÉE, A. (ed.) forthc.: “The University Sermons and Disputed Questions of Christopherus Laurentii de Holmis: Critically Edited with an Introduction and a Translation”, in Swedish Scholars at Foreign Universities in the Middle Ages, ed. O. Ferm (Runica et Mediævalia), Stockholm ANNERSTEDT, C. 1877: Upsala universitets historia, 1: 1477–1654, Uppsala. BRIEGER, T. 1890: Die theologischen Promotionen auf der Universität Leipzig, 1428 1539, Leipzig. BRILIOTH, Y. 1941: Svenska kyrkans historia 2: Den senare medeltiden, 1274–1521, Stockholm. BUCHWALD, G. 1914: “Leipziger Universitätspredigten zu Ehren Friedrichs des Streitbaren und seiner Familie (1420–1428),” Neues Archiv für sächsische Geschichte und Altertumskunde 35, 25-38. • BUCHWALD, G. 1916: “Die Leipziger Universitätspredigt in den ersten Jahrzehnten des Bestehens der Universität,” Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte 36, 62-98. BÅÅTH, L.M. (ed.), 1936 &1958: Acta pontificum suecica: Acta cameralia, Stockholm. • CARLSSON, G. 1929: “Christopherus Laurentii,” SBL 8, 505-8. DN 17, no. 1, 456 f. DS 5, pp. 306 & 317. ERLER, G. (ed.) 1895: Die Matrikel der Universität Leipzig, 1: Die Immatrikulationen von 1409–1559 (Codex diplomaticus Saxoniae Regiae 16), Leipzig. ERLER, G. (ed.) 1897: Die Matrikel der Universität Leipzig, 1: Die Promotionen von 1409–1559 (Codex diplomaticus Saxoniae Regiae 17), Leipzig. FERM, O. 2004: “Bengt Jönsson (Oxenstierna): Riddare, lagman, riksföreståndare och boksamlare”, in Bengt Jönsson (Oxenstierna) och hans värld, ed. O. Ferm and S. Nyström (Runica et Mediævalia and the Royal Library), Stockholm. HAUSEN, R., PISPALA, E. (eds) & KOKKONEN, J. (transl.) 1890 & 1996: Registrum ecclesiae Aboensis eller Åbo domkyrkas svartbok: The Black Book of Abo Cathedral: facsimile version of the 1890 edition with a new introduction and translations of the original preface and the register of documents with brief introductions, Helsingfors. HOFMEISTER, A. (ed.) 1889: Die Matrikel der Universität Rostock, 1: Mich. 1419–Mich. 1499, Rostock. KILSTRÖM, B. 1958: Den kateketiska undervisningen i Sverige under medeltiden (Bibliotheca theologiae practicae 8), Lund. LINDBLOM, A. (ed.) 1903: Akter rörande biskopsvalet i Upsala 1432 samt striden därom mellan konung Erik och svenska kyrkan (Skrifter utgivna av Kyrkohistoriska föreningen 4:2), Uppsala. LOSMAN, B. 1970: Norden och reformkonsilierna 1408–1449 (Studia historica Gothoburgensia 11), Göteborg. NELSON, A. 1927: “Om Uppsala universitet under medeltiden. Några anteckningar,” in Symbola litteraria: Hyllningsskrift till Uppsala universitet vid jubelfesten 1927 … (Acta Bibliothecae R. Universitatis Upsaliensis 2), Uppsala, 1–46. SRS I:1, p. 98. STYFFE, C.G. (ed.) 1870: Bidrag till Skandinaviens historia ur utländska arkiver, 3: Sverige under Karl Knutsson och Kristiern af Oldenburg, 1448–1470, Stockholm. STYFFE, C.G. (ed.) 1879: Historiska handlingar [published by Kungl. Samfundet för utgivande av handskrifter rörande Skandinaviens historia], 8:1: Bidrag till den katolska hierarkiens historia i Sverige 1463–1515, no. 3, p. 13. Stockholm. SÖDERLIND, N. 1932: “Striden om Uppsala ärkebiskopsstol,” Kyrkohistorisk årsskrift 32, 86 f. WEISSENBORN, H. (ed.): Acten der Erfurter Universität, 1: Päpstliche Stiftungsbullen; Statuten von 1447; Allgemeine Studentenmatrikel, erste Hälfte (1392–1492) (Geschichtsquellen der Provinz Sachsen und angrenzender Gebiete, 8:1), Halle [Facs. repr. Nendeln/Liechtenstein, 1976]. ZARNCKE, F. (ed.) 1861: Die Statutenbücher der Universität Leipzig, Leipzig.