'Puzzle' Initial, In Gregory The Great's 'Dialogues' f.22r
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
Gregory 'the Great' (540-604), who was pope from 590 until his death, wrote his 'Dialogues' in 593. It contains much autobiographical material, but essentially deals with the lives of saints, notably St. Benedict. This manuscript was certainly at Rochester by the 14th century, when an ownership inscription was added, but it cannot be the copy of this text recorded in the 12th century Rochester library catalogue.
A common form of initial in the 13th century is sometimes called a 'puzzle' initial, because it is composed of differently coloured (usually red and blue) parts, which interlock like a jigsaw puzzle, with a narrow band of plain parchment between the parts.