The Life of St. Cuthbert, Minature Showing Discovery of His Incorrupt Body
Shelfmark: Add. MS 39943
This illuminated manuscript of the Life of St Cuthbert was made in Durham during the 1180s as part of Bishop Puiset’s revitalisation of the saint’s cult. It remained a part of the cathedral’s rich furnishings until at least the early-15th century. The miniature shown here illustrates the moment when St Cuthbert’s coffin was opened and his body found to be undecayed eleven years after his death in 687 – a sure sign of saintliness. Not only was his body incorrupt but his clothes, the text tells us, “seemed to be perfectly new and wondrously bright”. Cuthbert is not shown as a monk of his own day but as a late-12th-century bishop, dressed in just the kind of rich vestments that Bishop Puiset himself would have worn.