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Breviary

Breviarium

Vellum leaf from an illuminated Medieval Manuscript
France; Late 13th Century
Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script
15 by 11.5 cm

The Breviary is one of the six official books used by the Roman Catholic Church in its liturgy. It is a book of prayer for the clergy, giving the directions for all of the various services of the Divine Hours throughout the year. The other five official books are the Pontifical, the Missal, the Ritual, the Martyrology, and the Ceremonial of the Bishops.

The angular script in this leaf is executed with great skill and precision. The small and vigorous black initials and the hair line details found in many of the ascenders and terminal letters indicate the work of a superior calligrapher, skilled not only in writing but also in sharpening his quill. The initials and the dorsal decorations also represent the same high standard of craftsmanship. Strangely, the rubrications do not show as great a calligraphic skill. Usually it was the task of a superior scribe to insert the rubrics or directions for conducting the service.
Keywords: 1200s, Breviary, decoration, France, formal, gothic, initials, script

Manuscripts | Cary Collection