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Martyrdom of St Caesarius, in a Passionale

Martyrdom of St Caesarius, in a Passionale

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1110

Shelfmark: Arundel MS 91

Item number: f.188r

Length: 33

Width: 22

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. Made in the early 12th century for the monastery of St Augustine, Canterbury, this English martyrology or passional has decorated initials--rare among martyrologies of its time--some with ingeniously designed decoration telling a saint's story. Some of the historiated initials in this passional give step-by-step accounts of the saints' stories. This one tells the story of the martydom of St Caesarius at Terracina in Italy. At the ends of the cross-arm of the T, Caesarius and his deacon, who were visiting the town, are horrified at a pagan sacrifice. In the centre, Caesarius watches the sacrifice of Julian (or Lucian), the annual victim who had been fattened up only to be thrown from the mountain for the god, Apollo. Caesarius objected and was tried by the priest of Apollo (below), who had him sewn into a sack and thrown into the sea (at base of letter).

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