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Evening prayer, Hours of the Holy Spirit, in the Salvin Hours

Evening prayer, Hours of the Holy Spirit, in the Salvin Hours

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1275

Shelfmark: Additional MS 48985

Item number: f.84r

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. This page gives prayers for vespers (evening) in the Hours of the Holy Spirit, a set of meditations included in some English 13th-century books of hours. In place of the scenes from the life of Christ that it gives the Hours of the Virgin, events from the lives of saints are depicted. The first letter of the prayers for vespers presents a scene of a pilgrim and three men. It may depict the story of St John who, disguised as a pilgrim, asked Edward the Confessor for alms in the name of St John. As the king had nothing at hand to give, he gave the pilgrim a ring. Years later the ring returned with a message revealing the pilgrim as St John. In the picture, the pilgrim wears red, the usual colour of the saint's clothing. It has nothing to do with the content of the prayer, but presents a story of virtue and the power of saints.

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