Saturday, October 04, 2008

A Book of Devotion: BL MS Egerton 1821

Psalter and Rosary of the Virgin (from f. 27), in two versions, and other devotional texts, including a litany
Date c. 1480- c. 1490
Parchment: BL MS Egerton 1821
Language Latin and English
The British Library, London

It is thought that this Book of Devotion was intended for use by a woman in Kent: the litany includes ‘S. Augustine of Canterbury and all the saints of that monastery’, along with many women including Elizabeth of Spalbeck and Mary of Oignies

The British Library website comments on this book:

"The most remarkable example of a book of devotion that may show signs of having received that devotion in a direct physical form [such as kissing or touching] is Egerton 1821, an English product of around 1490.

It begins with three pages, each painted black, on which large drops of blood trickle down. The third page has been thoroughly worn. I am not absolutely certain this is the result of kissing, and part of it has been rubbed and smudged rather than merely kissed, but I think it very well could have been partially erased by kissing.

The black and blood-spattered pages are followed by seven uncoloured pages, on the first of which is a pasted-in woodcut of the Virgin feeding the Christ child, surrounded by verses from the rosary. This is followed by excerpts from the rosary likening the Virgin in turn to five lilies."