A Passionale f.40v
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
A passionale was a book of stories of martyrs which was read from during the early morning prayer services of canons, monks and nuns. Each reading would be followed by short sung verses. From Christ Church cathedral, Canterbury, this passionale has beautifully decorated letters beginning each story. The decoration served a purpose--to mark the beginning of each section for reading. In this book, the style of the decoration looks forward to later art of the period called Romanesque.
A passionale typically was organised by the calendar of saints' feast days. This page has 'Lives' of two late 7th- to early 8th-century saints who shared 11th April: St Guthlac (a hermit of Croyland) and St Godeberta (founder of St George's convent at Noyon, near Amiens in France). Godeberta suddenly discovered her calling as an ascetic nun when, as her prospective bridegrooms were being discussed before the king of France, the bishop of Noyon suggested she try the religious life. She was so successful the king gave her a palace and chapel for her convent. In the 11th century, the bishop of Noyon, Radodus, began promoting her and wrote her 'Life'. Here it begins with a large 'S' formed of a beautiful dragon with large leaf and flower designs, all which become standard later on in 12th-century decoration.