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Hours of the Holy Spirit, in the Salvin Hours

Hours of the Holy Spirit, in the Salvin Hours

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1275

Shelfmark: Additional MS 48985

Item number: f.46v

Length: 32

Width: 20.6

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Named for its 17th- to early 20th-century owners, the Salvin Hours is one of the largest and most richly decorated English books of hours. Its decoration, created by two artists, resembles contemporary wall paintings in the Oxford area, suggesting that it was made in a workshop there. Its original owner probably was a high-status person living in Lincoln because it also resembles 13th-century books of hours associated with that city. It lacks a calendar, which would have helped to locate its original place of use because it would have listed saints' feasts special to a particular place. The Hours of the Holy Spirit were an additional set of prayers included in some English 13th century manuscripts. Like the Hours of the Virgin, they were intended for meditation. The Salvin Hours, instead of showing scenes from the life of Christ, depicts the lives of saints as the devotional focus. The opening phrase shown on this page was said before each of the hours and so was taken for granted. In the Salvin Hours it becomes a four-part picture showing the disciples in scenes after the Resurrection: Mary Magdalene and Christ ('Noli me tangere'), doubting Thomas, the Ascension with the Virgin flanked by Sts Peter and John, and Pentecost. The picture's religious purpose is to serve as a devotional aid, but it is hard not to see it as an expression of luxury and status as well.

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