"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscripts
Period: 1300 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
4.1 x 5.5 inches
10.4 x 14 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.
This vellum leaf is from an early Breviary written in northern France or Flanders. The text is written in a single column (21 lines) in a clear gothic book hand in black and red ink. There are two large initials in red, blue, white, and burnished gold, with a decorative border extending into the margins. The text is from the Suffrages of many Saints, with a prayer to the Saints Lucy and Agatha at the bottom on recto. Lucy and her mother, Eutychia, who was suffering from a bleeding disorder, made a pilgrimage from their home in Syracuse to Catania, the location of Saint Agatha's shrine in hopes of a cure. While in Catania, Saint Agatha appeared to Lucy in a dream and told her that her mother would be cured and that Lucy would become the glory of Syracuse. Lucy was then able to convince her mother to allow her to distribute her riches among the poor. Saint Lucy and Saint Agatha are two of the eight women commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.
There is light soiling and a number of tiny holes caused by the oxidation of the black pigment.