"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscripts
Period: 1460 (circa)
Publication: Book of Hours
2.3 x 3.2 inches
5.8 x 8.1 cm
Book of Hours were prayer books designed for the laity, but modeled on the Divine Office, a cycle of daily devotions, prayers and readings, performed by members of religious orders and the clergy. Its central text is the Hours of the Virgin. There are eight hours (times for prayer ): Matins, Lauds. Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. During the Middle Ages, the leaves making up a Book of Hours were written by hand on expensive parchment and beautifully illuminated with jewel-like pigments and gold leaf. These illuminated manuscripts combined the collaborative efforts of an array of highly skilled craftspeople; requiring the joint labors of the parchmenter, professional scribes to write the text in Gothic script, artists to illuminate the pages with decorations, and masterful binders to complete the process.
A very pretty, tiny leaf from an Italian Book of Hours. Written on fine vellum, the text is in a regular gothic bookhand in black/brown ink with the rubrics in red. One side is illuminated with a large initial in gold with beautiful blue and red penwork extending into the margin. The text is from the Suffrages of many Saints, an important part of every Book of Hours. Saints were protectors of medieval people, their helpers in childbirth, their guardians during travel, their nurse in sickness, and their doctor in plague. The Book of Hours contained special invocations to these various saints.
Protect, O Lord, thy people: and preserve with perpetual defense the one who trusts in the patronage of thine apostles Peter and Paul, and the other apostles. O Lord, we beseech thee, that all thy saints may verywhere help us: that while we reverently recognize their favors, we may feel their patronage…