Saturday, December 10, 2011

Look what I've got

I've got 'flu, which is why I haven't been posting much this week.

I also have some very kind and at times generous parishioners.
Can someone tell me about this leaf from the Office of the Dead of a fifteenth (?) century Book of Hours which was given me recently. "Given" in the sense of "here is brown envelope, get yourself something".

The blue cassocks of the clergy suggest it is English. The strawberries are about fecundity, I am not sure what the blue flowers are. Notice the face of the corpse is uncovered and the bones of the previous occupant are exhumed, presumably to be put into common bone pit (or did we have charnel houses in England?).

The rest of the Psalm "Dilexi" is on the reverse.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fr Ray , the blue flowers in the top picture look like forget-me-nots. I think they are one of the flowers associated with Our Lady .


Lindi

shadowlands said...

Hi Father, I have no knowledge on the picture but I will offer a decade of my rosary for your flu to go away quickly.

Doodler said...

A white cope - not black!

Peter Simpson said...

I'm sorry to hear you've got the flu - I hope you make a speedy recovery. Trying to look on the bright side of things, I suppose it would have been worse if you had gone down with flu during the Christmas festivities.

Do you have a flu jab? I've had one now for each of the past 8 winters, and have not suffered from flu during this period. I cannot get one free on the NHS, but only had to pay £7.95 at Superdrug. Money well spent!

Hope you feel like rejoicing a bit tomorrow!

Jane said...

Get well soon Father.
With my prayers always

A Reluctant Sinner said...

It is stunningly beautiful!

I doubt it is English, though, but might very well be wrong. It might be worth comparing it to this 15th century French manuscript (Harley collection) in the British Library: http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/ILLUMINBig.ASP?size=big&IllID=15648

The priest and deacon are both wearing blue copes in this image, too. The mourners (or are they monks?) are also wearing black capes (a later medieval mourning fashion for laity - I think) with gold trims. The crucifix is also red and the shroud has a similar cross on the front to the one shown in your new purchase. The page is also decorated in a similar way, with leaves, seasonal flowers and fruit - blackberries as opposed to strawberries. Oh, and the grave's previous occupant has been disinterred, too - a common and necessary practice in the Middle Ages (which, in my opinion, should be revived).

Although there were charnel houses in medieval England, I believe that it was usual to move the remains of the dead to common graves after a certain period (or just bury people in common graves in the first place). Hardly anyone got their own plot, of course, until the later 16th or early 17th century. One of the few medieval charnel houses in England was (is) at Spitalfields in the City of London - at old St Mary's Priory.

Strawberries often symbolise Our Lady, the fruitful virgin. They also point to love and humility. The forget-me-nots are usually symbolic of the Virgin Mary's eyes, but were also used as reminders of one's loved ones ("forget me not").

In the Middle Ages, it was quite common for clergy to wear blue - even outside the Sarum rite. It was often interchangeable with black (a colour that often faded and was very expensive to produce). It is interesting that lots of medieval manuscripts show bishops, priests, deacons and servers (and choristers) in blue vestments or cassocks - possibly denoting a day to day reality or emphasising the intense devotion to Mary that many people had before the Reformation.

I might be completely wrong, though, and emphasise that I'm no expert in these matters.

A Reluctant Sinner said...

PS - With prayers for your recovery from flu. Get well soon!

Fr Ray Blake said...

Thank you all for your prayers.

Dylan, Yes it could be from the same hand or at least workshop.

Yellow was a Sarum colour, for confessors but the rules were a little more relaxed about colour preformation.

The blue of the mss is ultramarine, very expensive, hence used for OL but the dye for clothing was indigo, wode mixed with urine, the same colour used for jeans today, very cheap.

The red cemetery crosses are interesting, apparently with cast -lead? crucifixes.

In southern England, before stone memorials appeared, graves seem to have been marked with a wooden, generally elm, plank when it rotted graves were re-used. How far back this goes I don't know.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Note the shallowness of the grave - knee deep.

mikeview said...

Don't forget the important thing, namely that there a prayer there. It is Psalm 114, Dilexi quoniam exaudiet Dominus, for those who want to look it up and offer it up.
Just a thought.

Saint Michael Come To Our Defense said...

Only one of them is looking upon the deceased...

The mourners are all turned towards each other, consoling each other at their supposed loss.

The clerics are all looking in different directions perhaps signifying different opinions...

The man at the head is gazing upon the man at the feet, watching the emotions of the footman's face, showing sadness at the death.

He might have known the deceased to display such emotion.

The artist might have made a shallow grave to signify death as only a temporary situation; deep in the bowls of the earth would signify far from Heaven.

The bones thrown to the side of the grave might signify Adam, who caused death to enter into the world.

The embellishments of flowers and fruit are nice; it is a sign of life among death.

An interesting thought:

Is the artist portraying one death, or several deaths?

Not having everyone in unison commending the poor soul to Heaven even up to its final resting place might be showing a disconnect due spiritual death of the participants.

Please offer your flu for Las Animas; the poor souls in Purgatory.

If you send me a list of people you would like remembered at Tepayac Hill. I will ask prayers be said for them on December 12th, feast day of Nuestra Senora Santa Maria de Guadalupe.

Last year a family from England allowed us to pray at Tepayac Hill on behalf of their children.

We are grateful to this family for its generosity towards us.

Please keep them in your prayers.

Que Dios nos agarre confessados.

(May God take us right after making a good confession).

*

The Rev. M. Forbes said...

These are great comments.

I think St. Michael is particularly insightful. It has dawned on me that Medieval funeral scenery is often quite unfocused for those portrayed. Death in the period was often of the young, often from grusome disease and violent.

The folks in black are mourners. Sometimes people had mourning cloaks, but I understand that these were often held by the community. In some places mourners carried evergreen twigs, like Rosemary.

The bones are quite symbolic and St. Michael may be correct.

Vestment colors are not important. A Church might have only one cope, which was used for everything. This world loved color and liked to lpaint everything, or drape it with colorful material. In that respect we have become terribly reserved.

Your readers are right about the flowers.

Finally, take care of yourself. Eat good koser chicken soup drink lots of tea. orange juice and, just before bed, a bit of the hair of the dog. Next year get the shot. I have every year and have not had Flu in decades. Get better soon.

Mike+

Rochester, Minnesota

Saint Michael Come To Our Defense said...

Rev. M. Forbes

Padre, I take it then you also saw the Serpent in the top right hand corner?

I was at the pyramids in mexico City and every pyramid there had a Serpent entwined mostly at the base.

I do not like that the Serpent is always included, but such is life.

God be with you, Padre.

With the assurance of my Holy Rosary prayers for all your good work in the vineyard of the Divine Master, I remain yours truly in Jesus and Mary Immaculate.

*

Lawyeratwork.com said...

Fr Ray: Get better soon. I can suggest a Novena to st Johnnie Walker. Works for me.
Beautiful picture.

SMCTD Please say a prayer to BVM of Guadalupe for my family and a friend who has a brain tumour.
Thank you
Lawyeratwork.com

nickbris said...

Dear Father Ray,Flu is very serious and requires bed & starvation. Most of your flock would have had a flu-jab by now.

I am now on my second cold this Autumn,it costs a fortune in tissues but is not too bad.

Anonymous said...

Get well soon.
[Valerie, NZ]

Anonymous said...

Father, Please do NOT get a 'flu "jab"! It has been admitted by former head of Merck, and confirmed by experts who have researched the phenomenon, that all vaccines are contaminated with viruses, some cancer-causing, others which cause longterm degenerative diseases. The risk couldn't be justified in your case. Besides contamination, there is a substance used in vaccines that is believed to stealthily increase infertility in the population. (You can figure out who most benefits from this.)

nickbris said...

Why should "Anti-Vaccine" nutters be allowed free publicity on this excellent blog-spot?

They are the cause of the current Measles epidemic here in Brighton and no doubt most of the confusion surrounding these miracle interventions.

And they are ANONYMOUS

Michael Clifton said...

Dr Mildew says that you should not go out if you temperature is 100 or over. Notthat you would feel like it. If you can stand two flu jokes then here goes.
1 How did you come to get the flue? Patient..It is the Italian flu. I opened all the windows on a cold day and in flew Enza.
2. Doctor . You are suffering from the virus flu known as Alice
What is that ? You know, Christopher ~Robin went down with it. (on the way to the changing of the guard)

Daniel said...

I would have to disagree with those claiming forget-me-nots for the blue flowers. On the first page there are clearly two kinds of flowers. The ones on the left look similar to forget-me-nots, except that they have the wrong number of petals (four instead of the five petals typical of the Boraginaceae and specifically forget-me-nots). Blue flowers with four petals suggests Bluets to me.

The blue flowers on the right look like Solanum (tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant), though the color is a bit off. The significance of this is not entirely evident. It may be that tomatoes et al. belong to the deadly nightshade family of plants (Solanaceae), a family of plants which, apart from the aforementioned edible friends, is know for its toxicity.

Hope this helps!

Lynda said...

I don't know why my name didn't appear on that post about all vaccines being contaminated by viruses. The facts have been published by experts and people ought to educate themselves on the facts. Vaccines have their uses. There are also risks, and they shd not be taken lightly. Just this year several people have died from the swine flu virus, which the authorities admit they should not have recommended. Several children have come down with narcolepsy and other ailments from that vaccine. I shall email report from deceased head of Merck and cellular biologist and clinician who have carried out detailed studies.