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A Martyrology

A Martyrology

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1150

Shelfmark: Royal MS 7

Item number: f.24v

Length: 34

Width: 24

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

A martyrology was a collection of lives of saints (especially stories of their martyrdoms), lists of names and dates of death of members or patrons of a monastery arranged according to the calendar of feast days, and the 'Rule'--the guidelines for conduct and daily prayer, the most common being the Rule of St Benedict (benedictine rule). It was made to be read from during the meeting called 'chapter', which was held after early morning prayer (about 6 am) for the purpose of commemorating the dead and reading a chapter of the rule. After the reading, assignments for various tasks were made and any necessary punishments or complaints delivered. This martyrology belonged to the priory of Christ Church, Canterbury, and records the names and death dates of many of its monks, as well as those from its confraternity such as Glastonbury and Faversham.

This page comes from the section of saints' lives, the beginning of May. The most important saints are given top billing, here Philip and James for 1 May and Athanasius of Alexandria for 2 May ("vi nones," using the Roman system of kalends, nones and ides). Other saints for the day are given briefer mention. The page was designed to have the apparatus for calculating the day of the week on which the feast would fall. This would be important if it fell on Sunday or a major feast of moveable date--adjustments would have to be made. The two horizontal bands were to have held the 'Golden numbers' and 'Dominical letters' an aid for calculating the weekday. The numbers and letters were never filled in--perhaps they were unneccessary because St Augustine's would have had other calendars. The numbers of the month's solar and lunar days are given at the top.

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