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Blessing of the Salt and Water, in a Missal

Blessing of the Salt and Water, in a Missal

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1340

Shelfmark: Harley MS 2787

Item number: f.7r

Length: 39.2

Width: 25.7

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

A missal contains all the prayers and readings for the celebration of mass. Usually it also contains a calendar because its user would need to determine the dates of saints' days and the feasts of the church to know which readings were correct for the day's mass. This missal, a rare survival from a pre-Reformation English church, was for use by a priest. Its beautiful decoration may be due to association of the church, All Saints, Maldon, in Essex, with the monastery at Beeleigh, through which the church might have acquired it, or the parish could have commissioned it from a workshop in London or elsewhere. All Saints. Maldon, has very beautiful stone carving in its nave which could have been about contemporary with this missal.

This page has instructions for the priest, prayers, hymns and music for the blessing of salt and water, which was carried out in the church on Sundays before mass and was followed by a procession. The exact time could vary according to whether the Sunday was ordinary or one having a complex service, such as Palm Sunday. The first letter of the page was originally a large decorated one. At some point, it was removed. This could have been during the destruction of images in the Reformation--perhaps a missal in a parish church would have been more vulnerable than one in a monastery--or by a later owner who wanted it to decorate another page or picture.

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