johnbaptist

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Processional: Miniature depicting the Feast of St. John the Baptist, June 24

Paris, France, c. 1510

Script: Gothic bookhand

Parchment with ink, paint, and gold

Notation: Square

 

Although this processional is from the early Renaissance period, it was considered for some time to be from the medieval period, owing to its style and decoration. A processional is a personal book containing the appropriate music for liturgical processions. This book is made of fine French vellum, and is a handsome specimen: it is decorated throughout with insects, birds, and frogs, and was made for use at the Dominican house in Poissy, France.

This miniature shows St. John the Baptist, accompanied by his attribute, the Lamb of God, holding a Christian flag in its mouth.  John the Baptist is usually recognizable in medieval art by his shaggy clothing and wild hair, which is meant to remind the medieval viewer of John’s humble lifestyle.

Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis E 7, f101v

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magdalene

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magdalene2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gradual: Initial G with St. Mary Magdalene

Italy, ca. 1425

Script: Rotunda

Parchment with ink, paint, and gold

Notation: Square

 

This gradual is a shared book, and is enormous owing to the need of the choir to see it from a distance. A gradual contains the music needed for the Mass.

This historiated initial G begins the Introit for the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (July 22), “Gaudeamus omnes in Domino diem festum celebrantes sub honore Mariae Magdalene…” (Let us all rejoice in the Lord celebrating the feast in honor of Mary Magdalene). According to The Golden Legend, Mary retired to the wilderness after the ascension of Christ, and each day was borne aloft by angels at the seven canonical hours so that she could hear the heavenly hosts. The angels appear in this historiated initial, as does the foliage of the wilderness. The long hair pictured here can be attributed to its status as part of her iconography: Mary washes Jesus’ feet with her tears in penitence and dries them with her long hair.  There is also a legend of 11th-century origin that Mary’s hair miraculously grows to cover her nakedness when she goes into the desert as a penitent. 

 

Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 73

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Initial G with the Coronation of the Virgin Mary, August 15

Perugia, Italy – c. 1325

Script: Rotunda
Parchment with ink, paint, and gold

Notation: Square

 

This initial begins the Introit for the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin, “Gaudeamus omnes in domino diem festi celebrantes sub honore Marie virginis …” (Let all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a festival day in honor of the Virgin Mary). The image of Mary being crowned by her son Jesus Christ as Queen of Heaven or physically being assumed into heaven is a popular scene from the Middle Ages.  The end of Mary’s days is frequently used as the image seen for Compline, the final hour in the Little Hours of the Virgin seen in medieval books of hours.

Free Library of Philadelphia E M 72:16

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Two leaves from an Italian antiphonary

Italy, 12th century

Script: Rotunda

Notation: Similar to Beneventan

Parchment with ink and paint

 

The initial M on the top fragment begins the antiphon benediction for Lauds on the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, “Magister, scimus quia verax es et viam dei in veritate doces” (Master, we know that You speak the truth and teach the way of God in all sincerity).

There are two staff lines used in this chant: the obvious one is red, the yellow one is barely visible.  The red line is the F line and the yellow line is the A line. These two leaves are not sequential: the top leaf has several selections from the Book of Matthew that are usually used during the 21st to 24th Sunday after Pentecost; the bottom leaf quotes Jeremiah 31:12 and Psalm 4.

 

The notation is very similar to Beneventan chant; however, Beneventan chant is accompanied by an entirely different script from the one seen in these leaves. Extant examples of Beneventan chant are also extremely rare, hence it is unlikely that these leaves are from a Beneventan monastery.

Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis Text Leaves 2:41

Visitation, July 2

May 5, 2009

mcai660111b

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Leaf from an Antiphonary: Initial E with the Visitation, July 2

Flanders, ca. 1450

Script: Gothic

Parchment with ink, paint, and gold

Notation: Square

This initial begins the third nocturn of Matins for the Feast of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary (July 2), “Exsurgens Maria abiit in montana cum festinatione in civitatem Juda…”  (Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to the town of Juda.)  The text is from Luke 1:39-47, which relates the story of the Visitation of Mary, and is the Gospel reading for the Mass of the same feast.  When she was pregnant with the Christ Child, Mary traveled to Hebron to see her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist.  Upon their greeting, John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb in recognition of the Christ Child’s divinity.  Elizabeth was supposed to be an older woman when she carried John: this is evident in Elizabeth’s stooped carriage in this initial. The earliest known instance of the celebration of this feast occurs in the Franciscan liturgy around 1237. 

In the initial, a castle can be seen in the background, which would have made the setting familiar to the medieval viewer.

This leaf has been identified as being close in style to the Master of the Ghent Gradual in a Book of Hours that was auctioned in 1981 by the Galerie Kornfeld of Bern. This Visitation is a horizonally compressed version of the Visitation in the Book of Hours, fit into the historiated initial E.

Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis E M 66:11

Corpus Christi

May 5, 2009

mcai720121b

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Single leaf from a gradual:

Historiated initial E with Jesus seated at one end of a long table and the Apostles gathered before him, Corpus Christi

Italy — Perugia, 1300-1350

Script: Late Gothic/Renaissance; Rotunda script

Parchment with ink, paint, gold, and silver

Notation: Square

 

This historiated initial E begins the Introit for Mass for the Feast of Corpus Christi, “Ego sum panis …;” reverse (true recto) contains the Gradual for the first Sunday after Pentecost.  Ego sum panis, translated as “I am bread,” is exceptional in its use for communion: the vast majority of liturgical manuscripts from the middle ages use the alternative wording of  “Cibavit eos ex adipe frumenti, alleluia,” (Full ears of wheat are the nourishment he gives them).

Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis E M 72:12

 

mcai660015b

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Single leaf from the Buckland Missal:

Inhabited initial B, Feast of the Trinity

England, 1360-1380

Script: Gothic bookhand

Parchment with ink, paint, and gold

Notation: Square

 

This initial begins the Introit for the Feast of the Trinity, “Benedicta sit sancta trinitas …” (Blessed be the Holy Trinity). 

This manuscript can be dated to ca. 1360-80.

Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis E M 66:1B