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Life of St Leodegarius, Passionale

Life of St Leodegarius, Passionale

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1110

Shelfmark: Arundel MS 91

Item number: f.47v

Length: 32.8

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. The life of St Leodegarius (also known as Leger or Ledger) begins with an historiated initial showing two scenes of men and animals which appear to have nothing to do with the his life. In the top, a man beats a donkey and below a man threatens a bear with a stick. Soon after this Passional was made, St Bernard of Clarvaux voiced his objections to distracting images in monasteries and their books, probably having something like this in mind. St Leodegarius was a 7th-century Bishop of Autun who became entangled in the politics of the Frankish court, resulting in his martyrdom.

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