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Feast of St Blaise, in a Missal

Feast of St Blaise, in a Missal

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1425

Shelfmark: Arundel MS 109

Item number: f.170v

Length: 43.1

Width: 28

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

A missal provides all the prayers, hymns, and readings necessary for the celebration of Mass over the course of the year. This deluxe 15th-century missal made for use on the altar was given to the church of St Lawrence in London by William Melreth, alderman, textile merchant of Broad Street and eventually member of Parliament, probably just before he served as Sheriff of London. At the time this missal was made, St Blaise, a bishop and doctor who lived in early 4th-century Cappadocia (Armenia), was increasingly revered for his healing powers. During mass on his day in February the throats of the faithful were blessed because Blaise had miraculously healed a boy dying of a fishbone caught in this throat. The service was to became standardised in the 16th century, the blessing given with a pair of crossed candles. In the historiated initial at the beginning of the prayers, a bishop is shown blessing the throats of the faithful who are queuing up, holding candles, which may be associated with blessing of the Easter candle during Lent.

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