Saint Lucy of Syracuse, Sicily. c.1475 Breviary leaf


Breviary leaf, c. 1475 with jewel-like initials


Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr of Syracuse, Sicily.


Recto:  Text in Latin written on high quality vellum in black ink in two sizes of an assured Gothic bookhand.   Pricking marks on the right margin and a small delicate repair to the vellum in the top margin. Ruled in red and rubrics in red.  Some initials touched in yellow.  Three exquisite two-line illuminated initials in pink and blue outlined in black and finished with fine white penwork.  Each initial is infilled with a different design.  The initials are on highly burnished gold grounds and have illuminations radiating into the margins of black tendrils bearing coloured acanthus and other flowers, green leaves and burnished gold ivy leaves and bezants.


Verso:  As Recto, with a further two equally exquisite illuminated initials.


Origin:  Northern France/Flanders, for the Use of Sarum (Salisbury).


Date:   c.1475


Content:  The text on Recto contains sections of two Lessons from the Feast of Saint Lucy, celebrated on December 13.  The illuminated ‘E’ in the left column begins the 7th Lesson: Et his auditis experge facta surrexit tremens et ait matri sue.  

The smaller script in the right column is a sung Response:  Lucia virgo, quid a me petis quod ipsa poteris præstare continuo matri tuæ? Nam et fides tua illi subvenit, et ecce salvata est:  Quia jucundum Deo in tua virginitate habitaculum præparasti.  Sicut per me cívitas Catanensium sublimatur a Christo, ita per te Syracusana cívitas decorabitur.  ( O Virgin Lucy, why seekest thou of me that which thou thyself canst presently give thy mother? For thy faith hath helped her, and, behold, she is made whole.  Because thou hast made in thy virginity a pleasant dwelling-place for thy God.  Even as Christ hath by me glorified Catania, so by thee shall He glorify Syracuse.)

Then follows the 8th Lesson, beginning:   Lucia dixit. Audi tu mater consilium meum.


Condition:  The leaf is in pristine condition apart from the small repair and a small (original) hole in the bottom margin. It has clean, fine vellum and jewel-like illuminations as colourful and lustrous as the day they were done, well over 500 years ago. It is unconditionally guaranteed genuine.


Size:  Size of leaf: approx. 190x140 mm. Text and illuminated area : approx. 135x95 mm.  Presented in a museum quality mat, ready for framing.  Please note that packing and postage is invoiced separately.  Within Australia: $22.50.  Overseas: ask for quote


Notes:  St. Lucy, Italian Santa Lucia, (died 304, Syracuse, Sicily; feast day December 13), virgin and martyr was one of the earliest Christian saints to achieve popularity, having a widespread following before the 5th century. She is the patron saint of the city of Syracuse in Sicily and of virgins. Because of various traditions associating her name with light, she came to be thought of as the patron of sight and was depicted by medieval artists carrying a dish containing her eyes.

Lucy was probably a victim of the wave of persecution of Christians that occurred late in the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian. References to her are found in early Roman sacramentaries and, at Syracuse, in an inscription dating from 400 AD. As evidence of her early fame, two churches are known to have been dedicated to her in Britain before the 8th century, at a time when the land was largely pagan.


Stock No:  MOT063

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