Illuminated leaf from a French Book of Hours. c.1475. The Litany of the Saints.

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Recto:  17 lines of text in Latin written on vellum in an accomplished gothic bookhand,  Ruled in red and rubrics in red.    Two two-line illuminated initials ‘U’ and 'F' `in raised and burnished gold on blue and salmon grounds outlined in black and finished with fine white penwork.  Capitals touched in yellow.

Verso:    Three lines of text.

Origin:   France.

Date:   c.1460.

Content:  The text is from the Litany of the Saints section of a Book of Hours. These prayers are at the very end of the Litany.  The gold initial 'U' begins the prayer:

Ure igne sancti spiritus renes nostros, et cor nostrum Domine: ut tibi casto corpore serviamus, et mundo corde placeamus.

(Enflame O Lord our reins, and heart, with the fire of thy Holy Spirit: to the end that we may serve thee, with a chaste body, and please thee with a clean heart.)

The gold  initial 'F' begins the prayer:

Fidelium Deus omnium conditor, et redemptor, animabus famulorum, famularumque tuarum remissionem cunctorum tribue peccatorum: ut indulgentiam, quam semper optaverunt, piis supplicationibus consequantur.

(O God the creator, and redeemer of all the faithful, give unto the souls of thy servants men, and women remission of all their sins: that through Godly supplications they may obtain the pardon which they have always wished for.)

Condition:  The leaf is in excellent condition. It  is unconditionally guaranteed genuine.

Size:  Leaf: approx. 190x130 mm.  Please note that shipping is invoiced separately.

Notes:   Books of Hours were prayer books designed for the laity who wished to emulate the cycle of daily devotions followed by the clergy but without taking actual vows.  The contents grew out of the psalter but included a mixed variety of other types of material - hymns, lessons, biblical readings, calendars, litanies etc. Its central text is the Hours of the Virgin. There are eight Hours:  Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline.

The "Hours" (times for prayer) are

Matins and Lauds at night or upon rising

Prime (first Hour) at 6:00 a.m.

Terce (third Hour) at 9:00 a.m.

Sext (sixth Hour) at noon

Nones (ninth Hour) at 3:00 p.m.

Vespers (evensong) in the early evening

Compline           before retiring.

The Litany of the Saints consists of the hypnotic invocation of a list of saints to whom the medieval reader prayed.  Each invocation of a saint's name is followed by the plea "Ora pro nobis" ("Pray for us").  It is among the most ancient and emotional Christian liturgical texts, dating in the West to at least the 5th century AD.  Saints served as earthly guardians, helpers, and nurses.  More approachable than God, they could intercede in Heaven on behalf of humans.  Medieval believers appealed to them for both spiritual and daily assistance, especially in dangerous situations: sickness, travel, and childbirth. 

Item No:   MBH201

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