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Martyrdom of St Piaton, in a Passionale

Martyrdom of St Piaton, in a Passionale

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1110

Shelfmark: Arundel MS 91

Item number: f.33r

Length: 32.7

Width: 22.5

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. Following the story of St Jerome and the lion, the passional gives an account of the martyrdom of St Piaton of Benevento, a third century evangelist to northern France and Belgium whose feast is 1 October. His relics had been entombed at Chartres in the 7th century, and this may account for his importance in an English passional of the early Norman period. A delicate drawing represents the saint holding up a book (gospels?) as he preaches from atop the first letter of the story.

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