St Dominic kneeling before the Crucifixion
Fitzwilliam Mus. MS 157, f. 152v
Book of Hours of Veronica Weiser
Image reproduced by kind permission of the Syndics of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Books of Hours are essentially parts of the Breviary excerpted for private devotion and usually include, as in this book, the Office of the Virgin, Office of the Dead, Penitential Psalms, Gradual Psalms and various prayers. The Office of the Virgin is described as of Dominican use. A Dominican nun would have to recite the Divine Office daily with the other nuns, but she could use a Book of Hours for her private devotions. The owner of this book, Veronica Weiser, is named with the date 1501 at the end of a prayer for the Confraternity of St Catherine attached to the Dominican convent of Augsburg, and the arms of the Weiser family are at the beginning of the book. Although it has been assumed that Veronica was a nun at the convent, it is not impossible that she was a laywoman of the confraternity, but she is described as a gaystlichenn frauen (woman religious) so probably she was a nun. The Crucifixion precedes a prayer on Christ’s Seven Last Words on the Cross on the facing page. St Dominic is accompanied by a little white and black dog with a flaming brand in its mouth. This alludes to the legend that his mother dreamed that a dog leapt from her womb carrying a torch in its mouth, and ‘seemed to set the earth on fire’.