Forgetting the saints

With the heavy demand for liturgical books in the early sixteenth century, missals for English use began to be printed, usually imported from France, where the book trade had the capacity for large orders. This is a Sarum missal printed by François Regnault in Paris in 1533. Regnault was later responsible for the first printing of the Great Bible. This copy shows evidence of meticulous censorship after the Reformation. The word pape is blocked through in black ink throughout the Calendar of saints. On this opening, in the Temporal section of the book, the feast of Thomas is subject to considerable and unusual erasure: part of the recto page has been clipped, while on the verso an elaborate checker board pattern defaces the text of the prayers. Later, in the Ordinary of the Mass, we find change in a Catholic direction, when the name Henricus octavus is crossed out and replaced with Regin[a] nostra mari[a]. In the Canon of the Mass, we see censorship in contrary directions: first papa nostra is removed to give way to King Henry; then Henry is replaced in due course by Mary. The book is thus a physical manifestation of how religious memory is subject to continuous adaptation in the face of religious policy. The book later passed into the family of Richard Evans, a Church of England vicar at the end of the seventeenth century; the same family gave the book to the CUL in 1933. BC

Missale ad vsum insignis ac preclare ecclesie Sar[um] ([Paris : François Regnault, 1533]).

CUL: Peterborough.W.13, sig. B6v

Further Reading

David Cressy, Bonfires and Bells: National Memory and the Protestant Calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England, rev. edn. (London, 2004).

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