Sermon on the Wise and Foolish Virgins, 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 have large coloured first 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 first and largest section of the manuscript has sermons on Jesus' words in the Gospel of Matthew, arranged according to their occurrence in the gospel. This page has the end of a sermon and the beginning of Sermon 23, on the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). It is announced by the title, written in red in the second column, with the large coloured letter marking the beginning of the sermon. Most medieval manuscripts aid the reader visually by their graphic design, even if they could not be globally searched for the desired text.