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Historiated Initial With The Symbol Of St. John The Evangelist, In 'The Sherborne Cartulary'

Historiated Initial With The Symbol Of St. John The Evangelist, In 'The Sherborne Cartulary'

Medium: Ink, pigments and gold on vellum

Date: 1150

Shelfmark: Additional MS 46487

Item number: f.57v

Length: 27.2

Width: 16.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Although popularly known as the Sherborne Cartulary, this manuscripts contains much more than just copies of charters relating to Sherborne. Of about 90 leaves, the last 50 or so contain mainly liturgical and biblical texts such as the accounts of the Passion from each of the Four Gospels, and Gospel readings and prayers to be said on major Church feast-days. The contents of the cartulary section, however, leave no doubt that the manuscript was written for Sherborne Abbey, in Dorset. The biblical reading for the mass on Christmas Day is taken from the beginning of the Gospel of John ('In the beginning was the word . . .'). Instead of painting a simple initial 'I', the artist has formed the initial out of a haloed eagle, the traditional symbol of St. John.

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