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Obits for September, in a Martyrology

Obits for September, in a Martyrology

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1390

Shelfmark: Arundel MS 68

Item number: f.41v

Length: 36

Width: 24

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Monasteries had special services everyday in which the dead of the community were commemorated. It took place in the chapterhouse after morning prayers or mass and consisted of reading aloud in turns a chapter from the rule followed by the community, the names of saints whose feasts would be commemorated on the following day and reading of the names of the deceased of the community and names of important friends who had given them support. The lists of names of saints and of the dead along with a calendar and other texts important to the monastery, such as its rule, were collected in a book called a 'martyrology.' A very old, large and important community such as the priory of Christ Church, Canterbury, would have a massive list and collection of texts important to it. This martyrology of Christ Church records names and events from the 14th to 16th centuries. Lists of the dead (called the 'necrology') for the month of September show names of bishops, clergy, noble patrons, both men and women, as well as lesser-ranking members of the community. Social class and importance to the monastery is evident from the amount of information given about the person. The bishop whose name appears at the top of the page is given more detail than Sisters Cecilia and Johanna whose names appears further along. More names would have been added in the blank space if the list had not been interrupted by the Reformation, when monasteries in England were dissolved.

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