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Manus-Christi-art - 12/7/05


"References for the Manus Christi confection" by Johnnae llyn Lewis.


NOTE: See also the files: Manus-Christi-msg, sugar-msg, comfits-msg, Roses-a-Sugar-art, sugar-paste-msg, sugar-sources-msg, 14C-Sweets-art, marzipan-msg, Pynade-art.





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                                    Mark S. Harris

                                    AKA:  Stefan li Rous

                                         stefan at florilegium.org



References for Manus Christi

by Johnnae llyn Lewis


      The question arose of late to whether or not the confection known as manus Christi always had to contain gold mixed into the cake or sweet. It was proposed that the presence of the gold defined the sweet.


      Based on my readings, I thought not and in checking with Laura Mason and Karen HessÕs works, I came to the conclusion that manus Christi might not contain gold at all.. Hess suggested that pearls were used at times and not gold. Recipe S107 To Make Manus Christi contains leaf gold. Recipe S110 To Make Aromaticum Lozenges is the same recipe as that given in S107. S110 has no gold in it. Laura Mason when quoting that elusive York archival document of circa 1500 says that one gets manus Christi if one omits the honey from the paste ryall recipe and cuts the mixture into gobbets. It's a mixture of sugar and egg whites flavored by spices as given in that text. That might be one of the recipeÕs earliest appearances in a manuscript in fact, and here it lacks gold.


      In search of other actual text references, I ran a search through EEBO TCP (the full text version of EEBO). This relatively new database is described in the sources section. Using the terms manus and Christi, I came up with  51 texts. All date from before 1700. I should mention that I discounted based on title then all those matches that were strictly religious or theological in nature. Those include writings on the Gospels, New Testament, Revelations, GodÕs True Saints, sermons, etc. All those seemed to be writings that were non-food related.


      I have selected a number of these references and reproduced them below. I should mention that this search may vary as more texts are added to the project. I have not reproduced all the short citations found. Often the medical information simply said give or take manus Christi for this or that condition. I also have to mention that I have not as yet had time to run this search by hand through all the facsimile texts that I own. I am sure those texts contain additional recipes.


In chronological order, these are the selected references:




Hutten, Ulrich von, 1488-1523.  De morbo Gallico¬.

M.D.XXXIII. [1533] Cum priuilegio.


We maye gyue vnto it some excellent name, callynge it lignum vite / as Philo the phisition called his dregges the handes of god: and thi (gap: 1 letter) daye the phisitions with great boste calle their co~fections manus Christi, apostolicu~/ gratia dei, Antidotum, Paulium, and many other such superstitious names. They say it groweth lyke an ashe with vs in height/& is rounde / bryngyng forth a nutte moche like a chesse nutte: his tymbre is oyle and fatte, in colour like boxe, but somwhat blackyshe. And they iudge that the best, that hath most blacke: but that whiche is lyke to boxe, differeth from that/ whiche is blacke.



The same information is also repeated in Of the vvood called guaiacum that healeth the Frenche pockes, and also healeth the goute in the feete, the stoone, the palsey, lepree, dropsy, fallynge euyll, and other dyseases.

M.D.XXXVI. [1536] by the same author.



1579; dates from 1562


Bullein, William, d. 1576. Bulleins bulwarke of defence against all sicknesse, soarenesse, and vvoundes that doe dayly assaulte mankinde: which bulwarke is kept with Hilarius the gardener, [and] Health the phisicion, with the chirurgian, to helpe the wounded soldiours. Gathered and practised from the most worthy learned, both olde and new: to the great comfort of mankinde: by VVilliam Bullein, Doctor of Phisicke. 1562.  This edition published in 1579. It dates from 1562.


Sickenes.: How make you Manus Christi?

Health.: FIrst take of Suger claryfied and melted in the Water of Roses. l i.ss. seeth these two tyll the water be consumed and the Suger hard, in the end of your decoction put in. &dram;.ss. of Perles or precious stones, made in fyne pouder, then lay it vpon a Marbell stone anoynted wyth oyle of Ro|ses or Uyolets, or Rose water. [Page 14]


Marcellus.: What say you of Pearle called the Margarite?

Hilarius:  THe Pearle is not only riche and pleasant to behold, but also holsome and good in medicine. Plinie. lib. 9. cap. 35. sayth, that there be plen|ty of Pearles in Arabia, in the mouth of the Red sea, growing with|in the shelles, called the mother of Pearle, in whych they are conueyed: the vnion which is cleane, bryght, whyte, round, and heauy, is the richest. The pouder of Pearle is good to be put in cordialles, as Manus Christi, and the same pouder with the white of an Egge, will clense the eyes. About thys Realme many Pearles be gathered in Muscels, and other Shell fishe, but not the most orient.





T. C., fl. 1579. An hospitall for the diseased wherein are to bee founde moste excellent and approued medicines, as well emplasters of speciall vertue, as also notable potions or drinkes, and other comfortable receptes, bothe for the restitution and the preseruation of bodily healthe : very necessary for this tyme of common plague and immortalitie, and for other tymes when occasion shall require : with a newe addition / gathered by T.C. 1579.


Page 32


To make a water against a consumption.

TAke a quarte of Rose water, as muche of womans Milke, Milke of Goates, of Mares, or of Cowe Milke, put vnto them thirtie yolkes of Egges, well min|gled together, and thereof still a water, whereof giue the paciente to drinke warme firste and laste, with a cake of Manus Christi, made with golde and Perles.





Kellwaye, Simon. A defensatiue against the plague contayning two partes or treatises: the first, shewing the meanes how to preserue vs from the dangerous contagion thereof: the second, how to cure those that are infected therewith. Whereunto is annexed a short treatise of the small poxe: shewing how to gouerne and helpe those that are infected therewith. Published for the loue and benefit of his countrie by Simon Kellwaye Gentleman. 1593.


From The Second Treatise shewing the meanes how to Cure the plague.


Mixe all these together and so vse it as occasion requi|reth at any time: and giue often times a cake of Manus christi, made with Perles, for him to eate. But if in the time of his sweate, you seŽ the sicke to fainte or sowne, then apply to his temples, and the region of the harte, this mixture following.


Manus christi made with Perles, is mentioned at least three times in this text.





Lodge, Thomas, 1558?-1625.  A treatise of the plague containing the nature, signes, and accidents of the same, with the certaine and absolute cure of the feuers, botches and carbuncles that raigne in these times: and aboue all things most singular experiments and preseruatiues in the same, gathered by the obseruation of diuers worthy trauailers, and selected out of the writing of the best learned phisitians in this age. By Thomas Lodge, Doctor in Phisicke.  1603.


http://ets.umdl.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?type=proximity;c=eebo;cc=eebo;sid=8dd2a8e786214e81231d6a7c0e023ed5;rgn=div1;q1=manus;op2=near;q2=christi;amt2=40;op3=near;amt3=40;firstpubl1=1470;firstpubl2=1700;view=text;subview=detail;sort=occur;idno=A06182.0001.001;node=A06182.0001.001%3A15">Chap. XII. Rules as touching bloud-letting, the potions and Euacu|ations which are necessary for him that is sicke of the plague.

ÉAnd in this case it is good to restore them with good broaths, wine caudles, and egges, as wŽe haue hŽeretofore aduised. Manus Christi perlata also is good in this case, and pleasant to the eater, which you may giue in brothes, in buglosse water, or in the forme of a ta|blet. To comfort the heart outwardly, vse this Epitheme that followeth.


Chap. XV. The maner how to withstand the most vrgent accidents that happen in the pestilent feuer, the Botch and Car|buncle.


or to make him take a toste of bread with sugar & cinamon stŽeped in good white or claret wine: you shall giue him Diamargariton Manus Christi with pearles, and amongest al the medicines that are proper to comfort the vertue, the confection Alcher|mes described by Mesue in his Antidotary) is allowed, which hath maruelous force and efficacie to restore vertue almost extinct in the sicke, as by diuerse experiments I am able to auow, to the valew of a drachme in buglosse water or white wine:





Royal College of Physicians of London.

A physicall directory, or, A translation of the London dispensatory made by the Colledge of Physicians in London ... by Nich. Culpeper, Gent.  1649.


Manus Christi Simple and Pearled.  [on page 146]

Take of the best Sugar a pound, Damask-rose-water half a pint, boil them together according to art, to that thicknesse that it may be made into Lozenges, and if toward the latter end of the decoctiom, you ad half an ounce of Pearls prepared in pouder, together with eight or ten leaves of gold, it will be Manus Christi with pearls.


A. It is naturally cooling, apropriated to the heart, it restores lost strength, takes away burning feavers, and false i|maginations, (I mean that with pearls, for that without Pearls is ridiculous) it hath the same vertues Pearls have.



Manus Christi against Worms. [on page 146]

Take of Rhubarb four scruples, Agrick Trochiscated, Corallina, burnt Hartshorn, Dittany of Creet, Wormseed, Sorrelseed, of each a scruple, Cinnamon, Zedoary, Cloves, Saffron, of each half a Scruple, white Sugar a pound, dissolve the Sugar in four ounces of Wormwood water, and one ounce of Wormwood Wine, and one spoonful of Cinnamon Wa|ter, and then with the forenamed pouders make it into Lo|zenges.

The title shews you the vertues of it, for my part I think in A. penning of it, they made a long Harvest of a little Corn.




Edwards. circa 17th cent.

A treatise concerning the plague and the pox discovering as well the meanes how to preserve from the danger of these infectious contagions, as also how to cure those which are infected with either of them. 1652.

give oftentimes a cake of Manus Christi, made with Perls for him to eat.



Maier, Michael, 1568?-1622.  Lusus serius, or, Serious passe-time a philosophicall discourse concerning the superiority of creatures under man written by Michael Mayerus ... 1654.


Lusus Serius: Serious Passe-Time  > The OYSTER

„ ... sitians are of opinion, that nothing more soveraigne, nothing more gentle, than confections of Manus Christi pre|par'd with pearle. They have also seve|rall kinds of Diamargaritons  ...





Kemp, W. (William)  A brief treatise of the nature, causes, signes, preservation from, and cure of the pestilence collected by W. Kemp ...  1665.


But these Coelestial and Supernatural Medicines are of a far more Noble and Certain Operation, and if any may be called (gap: ) The Hands of God, these are they. Faith brings to your help Manus Christi, better than all Confections, it applies the Lignum Vitae of the Cross, of more effectual Ver|tue than Xylobalsamum or Lignum Aloes. It makes a Soveraign Balsom of the most precious Blood of the Son of God, that Incomparable and Unparalelled Phy|sician, who died himself, to save his Patients life. Saint Paul calls it (gap: ) , The Shield of Faith, which will defend you from the Arrow that flyeth by day; which word signifieth also a Door, and will keep out the Terror by Night, and the Pestilence that walk|eth in Darkness, and the Destruction that wasteth at Noon.





Woolley, Hannah, fl. 1670.  The gentlewomans companion; or, A guide to the female sex containing directions of behaviour, in all places, companies, relations, and conditions, from their childhood down to old age: viz. As, children to parents. Scholars to governours. Single to servants. Virgins to suitors. Married to husbands. Huswifes to the house Mistresses to servants. Mothers to children. Widows to the world Prudent to all. With letters and discourses upon all occasions. Whereunto is added, a guide for cook-maids, dairy-maids, chamber-maids, and all others that go to service. The whole being an exact rule for the female sex in general. By Hannah Woolley. 1673.


Choice and Experimental Observations É An excellent Cordial for Women troubled with Swooning fits in Travel.


 ... idum, one Scruple; make a warm infusion for the space of an hour, then strain it, and add thereunto Manus Christi, made with Pearl, four Ounces; Oriental Bezor, Unicorns-horn, and Ambergriece, of each ...


Candyed Eringo roots.

 ... ell, that it may be as clear as Crystal; it being clarified, you must boil it to the height of Manus Christi, and then dip in your Roots two or three at once till they are all Can|dyed;




The Accomplish'd lady's delight in preserving, physick, beautifying, and cookery containing I. the art of preserving and candying fruits & flowersÉ 1675

106. To make Manus Christi.

Take half a pound of refined Sugar, and some Rose-water, boil them together till it come to Sugar again, then stir it about till it be somewhat cold, then take leaf gold and mingle with it, then cast it according to Art into r (gap: 1 letter) und gobbets, and so keep them.

Same text also includes 3 recipes that instruct that sugar must Ņboyl it to the height of Manus ChristiÓ




Woolley, Hannah, fl. 1670.  The compleat servant-maid; or, The young maidens tutor. Directing them how they may fit, and qualifie themselves for any of these employments. Viz. Waiting woman, house-keeper, chamber-maid, cook-maid, under cook-maid, nursery-maid, dairy-maid, laundry-maid, house-maid, scullery-maid. Composed for the great benefit and advantage of all young maidens. 1677.


To C ndy Eringo Roots.

It bing clarified you must boyl it to the height of Manus Christi, and then dip in your Roots two or three at once, till th ...





Mayerne, ThŽodore Turquet de, Sir, 1573-1655.  

Medicinal councels, or advices written originally in French by Dr. Theodor Turquet de Mayerne ... ; put out in Latine at Gevena by Theoph. Bonetus ; Englished by Tho. Sherley ... 1677.


For an Illustrious Nobleman, Son to the former, inclin'd to a Con|sumption.


Page 17-18 states:

A Cough is the most troublesome Symptom of these kind of Diseases; for it irritates and shakes the Lungs, and will not permit the mouths of the Vessels to close, nor grow to|gether. Take care therefore to prepare Bec| (gap: 1+ letters) hical, or Pectoral Tabblets of an Extract made without the least burning, but per|form'd with the vapour of water; let it be made of the best Liquiris, macerated in the waters of Fluellin and Mullin: adding to it new made Penidies, Blood Stone, and Manus Christi, composed with Pearls and Corals:






Holme, Randle, 1627-1699.

The academy of armory, or, A storehouse of armory and blazon containing the several variety of created beings, and how born in coats of arms, both foreign and domestick : with the instruments used in all trades and sciences, together with their terms of art : also the etymologies, definitions, and historical observations on the same, explicated and explained according to our modern language : very usefel [sic] for all gentlemen, scholars, divines, and all such as desire any knowledge in arts and sciences / by Randle Holme ... 1688.



Holme defines it as he does thousands of terms. Here we are told:

Manus Christi, a sort of fine refined Sugar put into Cordials for very weak people.





Martha WashingtonÕs Booke of Cookery. Edited with commentary by Karen Hess. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981. This is a Tudor-Jacobean work dated 1580-1625.


Mason, Laura.  Sugar-Plums and Sherbet. The Prehistory of Sweets. Totnes, Devon, U.K.: Prospect Books, 1998.


Early English Books Online (EEBO) is a restricted subscription database available from ProQuest. EEBO contains scans of most of the works represented in the microfilm series Early English Books I & II or most titles printed in English or in England prior to 1700. Additional works that were missed previously are being scanned and added to the collection. This includes several cookbooks that were never microfilmed. I am told that substantial catch-up work will done in the next two-three years and after that EEBO will better represent the culinary editions that were published prior to 1700.

Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership or EEBO TCP is a project underway to keyboard 25,000 of the above editions and make them searchable. This project covers books published between 1473 and 1700 and will take approximately 5 years.



Copyright 2005 by Johnna K. Holloway. <Johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org