"[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 four large initials in red and blue ink, with a decorative border extending into the margins. The text translates in part as:
For though they are not worthy to receive for whom we ask, yet we shall be repaid for our good intention. Therefore he did not say simply: "If you ask the Father for anything in my name, he will give it, but with an addition." Which is to say: even if they do not deserve to receive what they ask for, yet you will be rewarded for the affection of charity, as the Psalmist says: "And my prayer will be turned into my bosom."
Sometimes the saints ask for holy things, but because their request is not fulfilled in the present, it remains to be fulfilled in the future, just as the universal Church asks God every day in prayer, saying: "Let your kingdom come." That branch, even if it does not come immediately to the end of the prayer, yet after the universal judgment the creditor will without doubt come.
There is light toning and soiling, as well as numerous small holes caused by the oxidation of the black ink.