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Matthew 1:18 in the Bodmin Gospels

Matthew 1:18 in the Bodmin Gospels

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 900

Shelfmark: Additional MS 9381

Item number: f.14v

Length: 26

Width: 16

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

The Bodmin Gospels of St Petroc's Priory, Bodmin, in Cornwall, are an important survival, providing a glimpse of Cornwall's early history. In many ways, their pages look back further still than the late 9th century when they were made. While the script in which they are written is much like that in use in contemporary France and Anglo-Saxon England, the design of many of the pages and the kind of ornament used also resemble what is seen in Irish and British gospel manuscripts from the 7th to 8th centuries. It was probably made in Brittany, a 'Celtic' area where cultural links with western Britain and Ireland were maintained. Its most well-known features are the records of freeing of slaves (manumissions), celebrated at the altar of St Petroc, dating from the 10th- 12th centuries on some of its pages, which preserve names in Old Cornish. The large decorated letters XPI represent an abbreviation of the word Christi ('of Christ') in Greek: Chi Rho Iota. The enlarged and decorated abbreviation at the end of the list of ancestors of Christ (Matthew 1:18) follows a tradition seen in nearly all gospel manuscripts made in the British Isles, Ireland and Brittany from at least the late 7th until about the mid-9th century. The inscriptions in red between the lines and in the margin indicate sections which would have been read in church services. The one near the XPI is the reading for Christmas eve. In the lower left margin the numbers which coordinate with the canon tables can be seen.

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