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Life of St Jerome, in a Passionale

Life of St Jerome, in a Passionale

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1110

Shelfmark: Arundel MS 91

Item number: f.28v

Length: 32.6

Width: 21.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

The daily round of prayers recited by monks (divine office) drew upon a number of different kinds of books: the psalter, Bible, hymnal, and collections of stories of saints' lives. The latter contained accounts of the deeds of the saints that marked them holy people. Excerpts from a saint's life might be read as part of the office on his or her feast day. This English martyrology or passional was made in the early 12th century for the monastery of St Augustine, Canterbury. Few contemporary English passionals have decorated initials (letters beginning a section of text), and this one has ingeniously designed decoration which may present a saint's story within the initial's interior. Alternating red and green lines in the left columns are two sets of titles: one announces the end ('explicit') of the sermon on the dedication of the church of St Michael the Archangel, the other the beginning ('incipit') of the life of St Jerome, the priest, celebrated in October. Jerome would have been important to the learned monks of Canterbury because he was the editor of the standard Latin translation of the Bible (the Vulgate). The first letter I is decorated with lively tinted drawings of human figures, one nude, the other an archer who aims at the beast caught at the top.

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