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St Catherine, St Mary Magdalen, St Margaret and St Stephen, In The Egerton Psalter

St Catherine, St Mary Magdalen, St Margaret and St Stephen, In The Egerton Psalter

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1280

Shelfmark: Egerton MS 1066

Item number: f.10v

Length: 30.2

Width: 18.4

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

A psalter's origins can often be 'tracked' by the saints' names given 'red-letter' treatment in its calendar, because regions and towns commemorated their local saints. Other features of a psalter, such as types of prayers and styles or types of pictures, can connect it with a location. The Egerton Psalter, however, tells us little. Some link with Norwich is indicated by the calendar's special treatment of Felix of Dunwich, and more clues are given by another kind of evidence, later ownership. Its calendar notes deaths of members of the Holbrook and King families in the 15th and 16th centuries, as well as of William Pepyr, Vicar of Metyngham in the 14th century, supporting its early connections with East Anglia. In the middle ages, psalters were used in church services and as personal prayerbooks. They often have pictures in them which were not intended as illustrations of the psalms but were used as aids for private prayer. The Egerton Psalter originally had two full-page paintings after its calendar, but only one remains. This is divided into panels, showing Saints Catherine (with her wheel), Mary Magdalen (holding a small container of oil--?), Margaret (trampling the dragon), and Stephen (being martyred by stoning). The saints depicted would have been understood as intercessors, to whom humans could address their prayers and who, as inhabitants of heaven, would in turn petition God on their behalf.

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