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Readings for Saints' Feasts, in a Missal

Readings for Saints' Feasts, in a Missal

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1345

Shelfmark: Additional MS 39675

Item number: f.134v

Length: 31.8

Width: 20.2

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

The missal presents texts for the celebration of the Mass. Most of the Mass remains constant throughout the year, but within it are read and sung texts which are unique to each day of the calendar, some of them from the Bible, some special hymns and prayers. This missal was produced in the 14th century for use in Hereford Cathedral. The mass that it presents was meant for a lay congregation as opposed to a monastery. Although by the 14th century much of the Mass was standardised, still it could vary from place to place. This manuscript can be identified as being of 'Hereford use' by the kinds of texts in it, the way they are arranged, and the saints whose feast days are 'red letter,' that is, written in red. The simple ornament of vines and leaves, drawn in coloured inks, is typical of missals made for everyday use in the later Middle Ages. This page presents prayers and readings for the feasts of saints. Notable among them is a commemoration of Saint Ethelbert, King of East Anglia. Ethelbert was considered a martyr: the wife of King of Offa of Mercia had him murdered in 794. Hereford Cathedral has always been a site of veneration for him, and parts of his tomb are still there. The saints' commemorations on this page were added in the 15th century by more than one scribe.

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