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St Margaret, in the Salvin Hours

St Margaret, in the Salvin Hours

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1275

Shelfmark: Additional MS 48985

Item number: f.124v

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 terce (nine 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 St Margaret. Several of the pictures in the Salvin Hours compress two or more events into one scene, as this one does. In the story of St Margaret, she is swallowed by a dragon after her evil pagan pursuer incarcerated her. Inside the dragon, she protected herself with the sign of the cross, which was so powerful that the dragon popped open, releasing her. In the picture, the dragon is finishing up the hem of her gown but the saint emerges from his back at the same time. The hand of God above evidences the divine power which enacted the miracle. St Margaret was a very popular saint because she was supposed to be highly effective in helping those who asked her aid.

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