Ornamental illuminated initial and partial border at beginning of Advent
MS Gg.2.18, f. 2r (p. 3)
Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda aurea
Winchester?, ca 1310
The Golden Legend, a compilation of lives of saints and feast days by Jacobus de Voragine written ca 1263–1267, arranged according to the calendar of the church year, could be called a bestseller of the late Middle Ages, with many hundreds of manuscripts surviving from the late thirteenth to the late fifteenth centuries. It was translated into many European languages, including Middle English, notably in the famous 1483/1484 printed edition by William Caxton, and the French translation by Jean de Vignay, the Légende dorée which also is in a printed edition of 1475 used by Caxton for his translation. The page exhibited shows at the top the end of the list of saints’ lives contained in the book beginning with the Exaltation of the Cross (14 September) followed by an explanation of the Advent season beginning with an illuminated initial. The saints’ lives, excepting a few added at the end after St Saturninus (29 November), are arranged according to the church year and the list on the previous page begins with the first saint of the Advent season, St Andrew (30 November). The author was born around 1228, entered the Dominican order in 1244, was prior of Asti in Piedmont (ca 1266), provincial of Lombardy 1267–1277, and again in 1281–1286, and finally archbishop of Genoa 1292–1298.