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Blessing a Shrine, in the 'Anderson' Pontifical

Blessing a Shrine, in the 'Anderson' Pontifical

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1000

Shelfmark: Additional MS 57337

Item number: f.52r

Length: 29.7

Width: 24.3

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

A pontifical is a book of the church services conducted by a bishop, such as the ordination of a priest and the dedication of a church. This pontifical from Anglo-Saxon England was discovered in 1970 in the stables at Brodie Castle, in Forres, Scotland. It is called the 'Anderson Pontifical' after Hugh Anderson, minister of the parish of Drainie, Morayshire, in the early 18th century, whose name is inscribed with date in the book. No one knows how the ancient service book got from its place of origin, probably Canterbury or Winchester, to Scotland, but it is possible that it arrived in the Middle Ages, before the 13th century when Drainie was the seat of the bishops of Moray. The ritual for the blessing of a shrine begins on this page, indicated by the heading in written in black in the upper right margin. Near the top of the page are instructions for washing the reliquary or shrine to purify it in physical and spiritual senses. Use of red and blue ink for alternating lines is a feature known from other approximately contemporary manuscripts, most of them from Canterbury.

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