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 is a lovely, tiny leaf from a Book of Hours created in France. The book was so small, it must have been the property of a lady who carried it in her purse. The delicate text has 3 small initials in red, blue and burnished gold leaf. The text is in dark brown ink and includes a traditional prayer, Veni, Sancte Spiritus (Come, Holy Spirit), which translates in English as:
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.
Hear, O Lord, my prayer: and let my cry come to thee.
Let us pray:
O God, Who taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that, by the gift of the same Spirit, we may be always truly wise, and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Light soiling at bottom right where the page was turned.