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Decorated Letter and Ownership Inscription, in Gregory the Great's 'Homilies on Ezekiel'

Decorated Letter and Ownership Inscription, in Gregory the Great's 'Homilies on Ezekiel'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1110

Shelfmark: Royal MS 4 B.i

Item number: f.1r

Length: 28.6

Width: 21

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Gregory the Great was pope from 590 to 604, a period in which he had to deal with an unsympathetic emperor in Constantinople and invading barbarians who were setting up a kingdom in northern Italy. In the middle of it all, he transformed the church administration, improved monastic practices, wrote some of the most important scriptural commentaries of the middle ages--and sent a mission to convert the English. This copy of his homilies on the Book of Ezekiel belonged to the cloister of St Andrew's Cathedral, Rochester. The cathedral had historical links to Gregory. It was founded in 604 by Augustine, the missionary sent by Gregory from his own monastery of St Andrew in Rome. The book presents first Ezekiel, Chapter 40, and then follows it with Gregory's homilies on that passage. The first page of the manuscript opens Ezekiel with a large initial (first letter) that is decorated with an imaginary beast, an animal head and plants. They are the type of decoration seen in contemporary Norman manuscripts, but the drawing style looks back to 11th-century Anglo-Saxon manuscript art. The inscription in the lower margin identifies the book as belonging to Rochester Priory.

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