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Blessing of Salt and Water, by Hermann Scheere, in a Book of offices

Blessing of Salt and Water, by Hermann Scheere, in a Book of offices

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1405

Shelfmark: Additional MS 16998

Item number: f.8r

Length: 148

Width: 227

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

A book of offices (special prayers for each day) and other prayers, this manuscript was illuminated by Hermann Scheere and one or more unknown painters. Scheere may have been German, but his style suggests that his artistic background was Flemish. Certain features of its decoration reveal his continental origins and suggest that he decorated this book soon after arriving in England. It presents several unique or early examples of subject matter and text. Provided with a calendar, it includes prayers for feast days and ones special to certain saints, similar to a book of hours. This page comes right after the calendar and has the first prayers. The coat of arms below, added later in the 15th century, is identified on the painted scroll as that of Anne Maulever although it is the same as the arms of Chudleigh of Devon, whose connection with Anne Maulever is unknown. In the left column of text, a picture shows a priest with an acolyte (altarboy) blessing salt and water, the first ceremony on Sundays, held after early morning prayers (Prime) and before mass on Sundays. In many churches, the salt and water was then sprinkled as a purification during a procession with songs and prayers. This type of ceremony was halfway between the offices or daily prayers and the public ritual of the Mass. The beautifully painted scene and decoration giving an illusion of three-dimensional space and mass exemplifies Scheere's skill.

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