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 in the region between Tours and Rouen around 1430. The book was so small, it must have been the property of a lady who carried it in her purse. The are a number of initials in blue, red and burnished gold leaf, and the left and top margins on verso are filled with vines and leaves. The text is in dark brown ink. The text includes part of the Catholic prayer to Jesus, Anima Christi, which translates as:
And do not allow me to be separated from you.
Defend me from the evil enemy.
Call me at the hour of death,
And set me beside you
So that I may praise you with your angels
Forever and ever. Amen.
Light toning and soiling with one tiny hole at bottom.