Sermons on the Gospel of Matthew, In A Volume Of Works By St. Augustine And Others
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
Belonging in the Middle Ages to the cathedral priory of Rochester, this manuscript contains a large collection of St Augustine's sermons, mostly on parts of the New Testament. Its attractive bold handwriting is further enlivened by elaborately decorated letters beginning three sermons, while the others begin with large coloured letters. Augustine (354-430) was one of the great preachers of early Christianity, his hundreds of sermons being copied many times and distributed throughout the medieval western church. This copy of his sermons may have been read from during the daily prayer services of the canons and monks--although it is not organised according to the calendar of feast days--and probably was used as a resource for the writing of sermons to be delivered at mass.
The sermons collected in this section are on Jesus' words from the Gospel of Matthew. This page has the one exception, a sermon on the words of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:2 ("Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near"). The sermons are arranged according to the order of the quotations in the gospel, making this "Sermon No. 1". In medieval manuscripts, letters that are elaborately decorated usually begin major sections of text. Hence, the first letter of this sermon is large and has fierce, leaping imaginary animals, a human head and plant decoration, shaded with red and green.