Canon of the Mass

  Barnard College, MS 1, p. 189:
An antiphonal from mid-14th century Italy, but depicting the Elevation of the Consecrated Host at Mass.
  Plimpton MS 035, f. 89:A missal from late 14th century Italy with the priest reading from the Canon of the Mass, "Hic est corpus meum, " "This is my body."
  copy of M-736A 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 prefaces.
  UTS MS 03, f. 135v:A 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 use.

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 da Bologna.
Morgan MS M.800f. 39v:Crucifixion miniature, signed by the artist in the lower left corner, Nicolaus de Bononia fecit. Morgan MS M.800f. 40:Facing 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 canon.

Morgan MS M.331: A missal produced ca. 1400 in France for use in Châlons-sur-Marne, and illuminated by the Troyes Master.
Morgan MS M.331f. 186v: Crucifixion miniature with a small gold cross in the lower margin, so that the priest might not damage the miniature in kissing the cross. Morgan MS M.331f. 187:Maiestas Domini, and Evangelists (clockwise from the upper left: Matthew, John, Luke, Mark), facing the Crucifixion miniature. Morgan MS M.331f. 188:A priest at the beginning of the Te igitur prayer.