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Ownership Inscription and Historiated Letter, in Gregory the Great's 'Moralia in Job'

Ownership Inscription and Historiated Letter, in Gregory the Great's 'Moralia in Job'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1110

Shelfmark: Royal MS 6 C.vi

Item number: f.6r

Length: 33.2

Width: 24

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Pope Gregory the Great (590 to 604) transformed church administration, refined the practices of monasteries and wrote some of the most important Biblical commentaries of the middle ages, notably his 'Moralia in Job'. This manuscript is Volume 2 of a two-volume copy of the 'Moralia'. Made early in the 12th century, it belonged to the Cathedral of St Andrew at Rochester. The cathedral, named for the monastery in Rome where Gregory had begun his career, was founded in the early 7th century by Augustine, the missionary--also a monk from St Andrew's, Rome--whom Gregory had sent to Britain to convert the Angles. The medieval popularity of the 'Moralia' was due to its theme of personal, interior spirituality: how does one forge within oneself a Christian soul? The Book of Job, too, tells a great story. In this manuscript, each section of the 'Moralia' begins with a large historiated initial (first letter bearing a picture). Here the letter Q features the afflicted Job on the dung heap and his wife handing him bread on a stick, an image of Job's patience which appears in Early Christian and Byzantine art. The letter's tail is in the form of an imaginary creature whose tail becomes a vine with an animal head. In the lower margin, an inscription identifies book as belonging to the priory of Rochester, giving the name of an archbishop, probably Ralph, Bishop of Rochester 1108-1114, Archbishop of Canterbury 1114-1123, or possibly Ralph of Maidstone, Archbishop 1234-1239.

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