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Prime, Hours of the Trinity, in the Salvin Hours

Prime, Hours of the Trinity, in the Salvin Hours

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1275

Shelfmark: Additional MS 48985

Item number: f.117v

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 prime (6 am) in the Hours of the Trinity, a set of meditations included in some English 13th-century manuscripts. 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 shows the martyrdom of St Catherine. To the left is the Emperor Maximinus, who ordered Catherine's death upon the wheel, an instrument of torture, because she had converted his court and the empress. The Christian converts, killed by Maximinus, are shown on the right. Above is Catherine, about to lie upon the wheel which will shatter when she touches it. St Catherine was believed to be a very effective saint who would aid those who asked her help. The saint's example of faith and her aid to the owner of the book was the point of the picture: it did not illustrate the prayer.

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