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(Northern France [probably Paris], ca. 1460s). 130 x 98 mm. (5 1/8 x 3 7/8"). Single column, 14 lines in a fine gothic book hand.
Attractively matted. The text similarly decorated as in the previous entry, but with the panel border on the verso inhabited by a long-tailed pheasant, the same side WITH A DRAMATIC MINIATURE (measuring 35 x 33 mm.) OF SAINT GREGORY CELEBRATING MASS, the saint holding aloft the communion wafer WHILE THE FIGURE OF CHRIST RISES FROM THE ALTAR, BLOOD FROM THE WOUND TO HIS HAND CASCADING INTO THE CHALICE on the altar surface, the wall behind displaying the "Arma Christi," Gregory's doubting deacon kneeling behind him, and beside the deacon, a noblewoman recognizable as the owner of the Book of Hours. ◆A little faint soiling near edges, otherwise in fresh, bright, and altogether pleasing condition.
Representing the most heightened of religious moments in general as well as a key point in the life of Saint Gregory specifically, this leaf features compelling actions being witnessed by the woman for whom this Book of Hours was made. According to the doctrine of Transubstantiation, the Communion wafer becomes the body of Christ once the priest blesses it with the words "this is my body," and this dramatic transformation is revealed publicly at the moment when the wafer is raised; similarly, when the wine is blessed by the priest, it becomes the Christ's blood, a transmutation that is obviously being symbolized by the spouting blood in the present scene. For Gregory (ca. 540-604), this miniature represents the occasion for gratitude toward God. Faced with doubts expressed by his deacon about the validity of Transubstantiation, Gregory had prayed for a sign that the doctrine was true, whereupon the bread was transformed in the deacon's presence into Christ in the visible guise of the Man of Sorrows rising from the altar, clad only in a loincloth and displaying the wounds left by the Crucifixion (here, the wound on just the right hand suffices). The miniature is full of absorbing details, including the "Arms of Christ" (symbols from the Passion) displayed on the wall, the gold hatching and black embroidery on the altar cloth, the line of text and closure tabs on the Missal lying on the altar, and the architectural elements of the chapel (including a rooster standing on a pedestal, one more item in the "Arma Christi"). (ST12021-233)