Processional of Poissy (1)

A nun of Poissy kneeling before St Dominic at the beginning of the responsory for the procession
Fitzwilliam Mus. MS McClean 63, f.105r
Poissy or Paris?, ca 1500

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

The French royal family, to which the Dominicans were confessors, were patrons of the large priory of Poissy just to the north-west of Paris, founded in 1304 by King Philippe IV le Bel who reigned from 1285 to 1314. Although the buildings were demolished during the French Revolution after 1792, when the convent was closed down, a great number of liturgical manuscripts survive from this nunnery, many of whose members came from high aristocratic families. The largest survival is of Processionals. In liturgical processions associated with both the Mass and Office the nuns would process in pairs, each pair singing from a manuscript of the Processional, and this probably explains why so many have survived. This illuminated Poissy Processional of ca 1500 is extensively illuminated with miniatures, historiated initials and ornamental borders containing fruit, flowers, birds and insects. The responsory during the procession for St Dominic’s feast day on 4 August, Panis oblatus celitus fratrum supplet inopiam, in the Dominican Breviary is used as the responsory at the fifth lesson at Matins and differs from Mundus vocans ad agni nuptias, the responsory to the first lesson at Matins, used in the printed Processional of the friars whose text content is somewhat different.

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