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A Litany, In A Pontifical

A Litany, In A Pontifical

Date: 1050

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Tiberius C I

Item number: f.203r

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

The 17th-century English bibliophile, Robert Cotton, sometimes bound together separate manuscripts which were otherwise totally unrelated, creating books of miscellaneous contents, this book being a good example. It is made of an early 12th-century English scientific textbook and an 11th-century pontifical (manual of services conducted by a bishop), some parts of which were probably made in France but which are bound with sections which clearly were made before the Norman conquest in Southwest England, probably at Sherborne Abbey in Dorset, where other additions in Old English and Latin were made. The monastery of St Mary, Sherborne, is mentioned in a form for a monk's profession of his vows, and later in the century the pontifical went to Salisbury after the see of Sherborne was removed in 1078 where it was updated further with instructions for Salisbury services. This litany, or petition to God and the saints for mercy and prayer on behalf of humans, was written on the pontifical's last page, which had been left blank. It was written in Anglo-Saxon England, but only two Anglo-Saxon saints are named in it, both written in Old English letters. The name of St Edith appears near the top of the second column and St Swithin near the top of the third.

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