An antiphonal from mid-14th century Italy, but depicting
the Elevation of the Consecrated Host at Mass.
missal from late 14th century Italy with the priest reading from the
Canon of the Mass, "Hic est corpus meum, " "This is
copy of the canon of the mass printed in Mainz in 1458 by Johann Fust
and Peter Schöffer with the VD (Vere Dignum) monograms of the
missal from 15th century Germany, with the initial for Trinity Sunday
cut away, and showing the larger script for the Canon of the Mass
on the preceding leaf.
The central section of a Mass is the Canon, called by this name to indicate
its "canonical" or fixed nature, in that its arrangement of
prayers and rites are not subject to variations due to the seasons of
the liturgical year, or to the respective
rankings of any coinciding feasts. These prayers of consecration of the
bread and wine are said by the priest at every Mass; therefore, in the
early Middle Ages, they were collected (together with certain other ceremonies)
in the book reserved for the priest, called a sacramentary. By the end
of the thirteenth century, the sacramentary and other books for the celebration
of the Mass (the lectionary
for the mass and the gradual)
had been combined into a single book, the missal.
In the books in the present exhibit, the Canon is clearly understood
to begin with the prayer, "Te igitur," whose initial T is hierarchically
signaled by a larger size, more elaborate decoration, and sometimes a
miniature. The canon may be copied in larger script for ease of reading,
and it may be copied (or later, printed) on parchment even if the rest
of the book is on paper to ensure its survival in spite of very frequent
Directly preceding the Canon, in the manuscripts of the
late middle ages, one often finds a Crucifixion miniature; in French manuscripts,
the page that faces the Crucifixion miniature is frequently a "Maiestas
Domini," God enthroned with the Evangelists or their symbols in the
four corners (the two full-page miniatures were often painted on a distinct
bifolium, with the outer sides of it left blank).
|Morgan MS M.800: An
ordinal copied in Bologna, ca. 1370 and illuminated by Niccolò
miniature, signed by the artist in the lower left corner, Nicolaus
de Bononia fecit.
the Crucifixion miniature, the Te igitur prayer with clerics singing
the "Sanctus" from a choir book. This ordinal contains
directions and prayers for the preparation for the mass and the
|Morgan MS M.331: A missal produced
ca. 1400 in France for use in Châlons-sur-Marne, and illuminated
by the Troyes Master.
Crucifixion miniature with a small gold cross
in the lower margin, so that the priest might not damage the miniature
in kissing the cross.
Domini, and Evangelists (clockwise from the upper left: Matthew, John,
Luke, Mark), facing the Crucifixion miniature.
priest at the beginning of the Te igitur prayer.