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The Four Crowned Ones and Music-Making Monks, in a Passionale

The Four Crowned Ones and Music-Making Monks, in a Passionale

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1110

Shelfmark: Arundel MS 91

Item number: f.218v

Length: 33

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. 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. The four sculptors from Pannonia (Hungary) plus their colleague Simplicius were martyred under Emperor Diocletian in the late 3rd or early 4th century, becoming known as the 'Four Crowned Martyrs.' The artist of the passional converted the initial T of their story into an inventive image of a one-monk band accompanied by a viol. He holds a harp in each hand and a pipe in his mouth.

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