Augustine, On Christian Doctrine f.5r
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
The priory of the cathedral of St Andrew, Rochester, possessed a great number of books, most of which became the medieval manuscripts section of Henry VIII's library when the bishop of Rochester's belongings were confiscated in 1534 or upon his execution in 1535. The clerics, monks and canons at the cathedral would have need for many types of books: for study, conducting church and prayer services and for personal devotion. This manuscript, copied in the early 12th century, contained St Augustine's 'On Christian Doctrine' and 'On True Religion'. In the late 12th or beginning of the 13th century, the monastery's cantor, Alexander, wrote out a catalogue of all the books owned by the priory on the flyleaves at the front of this manuscript.
The prologue of 'On Christian Doctrine' opens with a large decorated first letter, the conventional medieval way of highlighting the beginning of a section in a book. A rubric--or title in red--at the top of the page identifies it as the prologue. Within the text, the slightly larger letters brushed with colour indicate the beginnings of paragraphs. The decoration is modest, appropriate for a working book used for study as opposed to one for display in church services or to important visitors.