Diurnal (1)

Illuminated initial F with illuminated foliate border
Fitzwilliam Mus. MS McClean 64, f.125r
Alsace or Upper Rhine, ca 1480–1490

Image reproduced by kind permission of the Syndics of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

A Diurnal contains the section of the Breviary for the day hours from Prime to Compline, omitting Matins and Lauds which were recited in the early hours when it was dark for much of the year and are termed the nocturnal hours. This fine illuminated copy of a Dominican Diurnal comes from Alsace or the Upper Rhine region of Germany. Here is the opening of First Vespers for the 7 March feast of St Thomas Aquinas with the antiphon to the psalms Felix Thomas doctor ecclesie lumen mundi splendor ytalie followed by the capitulum (little chapter), Elegit eum dominus ex omni carne. The initial F in red is set on a gold ground and the border has scrolls of foliage and gold blobs with black hairs, and is of a type commonly found in south-west Germany in the second half of the fifteenth century.

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