Saturday, June 07, 2014

Miniatures of Pentecost

Jean Bourdichon (1457 - 1521)
c. 1490- c. 1500
From Book of Hours, Use of Tours
F 45v, Harley 2877
Illuminated manuscript
95 x 60 mm
The British Library, London

This Miniature of Pentecost by the great French artist Jean Bourdichon is  at the beginning of the Hours of the Holy Spirit. 

In the early 1480s, Jean Bourdichon succeeded Jean Fouquet as peintre du roi and valet de chambre. He  retained these positions under four successive French kings: Louis XI, Charles VIII, Louis XII, and François I.

This image is probably part of the Book of Hours commissioned for Louis XII (reigned 1498-1515) to celebrate the king’s coronation in 1498.

He employs dramatic close-ups with volumetric half-figures occupying the foreground

The inscription is: "Domine labia mea aperies Et os meum annunciabit laudem tuam." (Thou O Lord wilt open my lips And my mouth shall declare thy praise) (Psalm 51:15)

Mary is at the centre of the work. In the foreground are John and Peter

As to Pentecost we remember the words of Jesus before the Crucifixion as reported in John`s Gospel. He talked about the coming of the Advocate in Chapter 16

12 “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
13 But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.
14 He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
15 Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
16 “A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.”
17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What does this mean that he is saying to us, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?”
18 So they said, “What is this ‘little while’ [of which he speaks]? We do not know what he means.”
19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing with one another what I said, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’?
20 Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.
21 When a woman is in labour, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world.
22 So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.
23 On that day you will not question me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.
24 Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete."

Miniature of the Pentecost
From The Augsburg Sacramentary
Harley 2908   f. 69v 
2nd or 3rd quarter of the 11th century
Parchment codex
210 x 165 mm
The British Library, London

The sacramentary was made for made for the cathedral church of St. Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg in the 11th century

We know that one of the illuminators of this work was a monk called Ulrich

The rest of his life is known only to God

The Miniatures reflect the important events of the Church`s  liturgical life: the Crucifixion, the Nativity and Annunciation to the Shepherds, the Holy Women at the Tomb, the Ascension, Pentecost, and the Assumption 

In Sacrosanctum Concilium (1963), we read:
"102. Holy Mother Church is conscious that she must celebrate the saving work of her divine Spouse by devoutly recalling it on certain days throughout the course of the year. Every week, on the day which she has called the Lord's day, she keeps the memory of the Lord's resurrection, which she also celebrates once in the year, together with His blessed passion, in the most solemn festival of Easter. 
Within the cycle of a year, moreover, she unfolds the whole mystery of Christ, from the incarnation and birth until the ascension, the day of Pentecost, and the expectation of blessed hope and of the coming of the Lord. 
Recalling thus the mysteries of redemption, the Church opens to the faithful the riches of her Lord's powers and merits, so that these are in some way made present for all time, and the faithful are enabled to lay hold upon them and become filled with saving grace."

In Select Questions on the Theology of the Redeemer (1995), the International Theological Commission wrote:
"5. Through the incarnation of the Word the Redeemer's uniqueness becomes discernible to us already in its redeeming force. In the paschal mystery the Redeemer has made salvation available to all: 
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (Jn 12:32). 
The gift of Pentecost enabled his apostles and disciples finally to recognize who and what Jesus was as in the fellowship of the Church—the teaching, the breaking of bread, the prayers (Acts 2:42)—they became aware of what Jesus had done for them, what he had taught and commanded. This is precisely the function of the Holy Spirit in Johannine theology (cf. Jn 16:13-15). 
6. Hence we as human beings can come to know who the Redeemer is, but only within the community of the Church and through it. Christ cannot be isolated from the Church"

Maître François (active 1462 - 1480)
Miniature of the Pentecost
f. 178v, Egerton 2045
From Hours, Use of Rome
c. 1460 - c. 1470
Parchment codex
45 x 25 mm
The British Library, London

Maître François is the soubriquet of an artist belonging to a workshop of Parisian illuminators whose primary artist  is designated as the Master of Jean Rolin

He depicts the attendees of the first Pentecost as clothed in white

In the account of Pentecost and its aftermath in Acts 2 we read that the Apostle Peter stood up with the eleven and proclaimed to the crowd. He called on them to repent and be baptised

Then they that received his word were baptised: and the same day there were added to their group about three thousand souls.

From the early days of Western Christianity, Pentecost became one of the days set aside to celebrate Baptism

The term Whit Sunday derives from the custom of the newly baptised wearing white clothing, and from the white vestments worn by the clergy in some jurisdictions

In International Theological Commission Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles and Criteria (2011) the Commission wrote:
"25. The Acts of the Apostles describes the life of the early Christian community in a way that is fundamental for the Church of all times: ‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers’ (Acts 2:42; cf. Rev 1:3). This succinct description, at the end of the account of the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit opened the mouths of the apostles to preach and brought many of those who heard them to faith, highlights various essential aspects of the Spirit’s ongoing work in the Church. There is already an anticipatory outline of the Church’s teaching and sacramental life, of its spirituality and commitment to charity. All of these began in the apostolic community, and the handing on of this integral way of life in the Spirit is Apostolic Tradition. Lex orandi (the rule of prayer), lex credendi (the rule of belief) and lex vivendi (the rule of life) are all essential aspects of this Tradition. Paul refers to the Tradition into which as an apostle he has been incorporated when he speaks of ‘handing on’ what he himself ‘received’ (1Cor 15:1-11, cf. also 1 Cor 11:23-26)."
To finish  here is a rendition of Saint Hildegard of Bingen, O ignis Spiritus Paracliti

O ignis spiritus paracliti, / vita vite omnis creature, / sanctus es vivificando formas

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