The Adoration of the Christ Child with a kneeling Dominican nun
Fitzwilliam Mus. MS McClean 63, ff. 129v–130r
Poissy or Paris?, ca 1500
Image reproduced by kind permission of the Syndics of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
This opening shows on the left a prayer to St Sebastian with below an as yet unexplained rebus or motto MILE IIII MILE following the title In nocte natalis. The opposite page shows a nun kneeling before the Holy Family adoring the Child above the Prose for the night of Christmas, Verbum divinum est incarnatum, with musical notation. In the miniature above the nun is a shield and there is other heraldry in the manuscript which should enable the identification of the owner of the book, but as yet this heraldry has not been identified. Poissy always had many nuns from noble families and even some princesses of the royal family. The priory was dedicated to the royal saint of France, King Louis IX, and the place had a particularly close association with him because he was born there. Also he was much attached to the Dominicans and in 1238/1239 entrusted two of them to fetch from Constantinople the famous relic of the Crown of Thorns which was enshrined in his palace chapel, the Sainte Chapelle. The feast of the Crown of Thorns was incorporated into the Dominican Calendar on 4 May but later changed to 24 April.