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Dedication of a Church, in the Carmelite Missal

Dedication of a Church, in the Carmelite Missal

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1390

Shelfmark: Additional MS 29704

Item number: f.68v

Length: 71.6

Width: 51.7

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

An order of monks and nuns who followed a strict ideal of abstinence, the Carmelites or 'White Friars' became prominent in England in the 13th and 14th centuries. They were well-connected with powerful supporters in the royal court. The Carmelite Missal was probably made for use at Whitefriars in London. Its beautiful decoration can be seen as an expression of the White Friars' religious intensity and highly placed patronage. At least three artists, one - Hermann Scheere - from Germany, decorated it and introduced new ways of depicting the human figure and creating illusions of space. Their work brought English manuscript art into a new phase of the 'International Style' of western European painting. In the 1930s Margaret Rickert reconstructed the missal from the scraps left by its early 19th-century owner's children. This page presented the prayers and hymns for the feast of the dedication of a church. The first letter of one of the texts has a painting of the ceremony of church dedication. Outside the church the bishop sprinkles holy water around it to purify the church's space. In the procession are priests, friars, and laymen. On the roof of the church, the devil is probably a reference to the evil that the ceremony is meant to exorcise and also to one of it hymns, Psalm 90 (91), which speaks of trampling and defeat of the devil. Two reclining laymen (patrons of Whitefriars?) support the letter, and to the side a beautifully natural grotesque supports a pedestal on which an idol (Mars?) stands, probably a reference to pagan gods or heresy driven out by the ceremony.

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