Fol. 177

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Jean Poyer

St. Philip: Philip Vanquishing Idols and a Demon
Border: Philip Baptizing

Hours of Henry VIII, in Latin
Illuminated by Jean Poyer

France, Tours
ca. 1500
256 x 180 mm

The Dannie and Hettie Heineman Collection; deposited in 1962, given in 1977

MS H.8 (fol. 177)
Item description: 

Illuminated around 1500 by the artist Jean Poyer, The Hours of Henry VIII receives its name from the possible but unproven eighteenth-century tradition that holds King Henry of England once owned this splendid manuscript. By following the simple instructions, you can explore every painting of this Renaissance masterpiece and learn how Books of Hours helped their readers to pray.

Books of Hours contain more or less standard texts—Calendar, Gospel Lessons, Hours of the Virgin, Hours of the Cross, Hours of the Holy Spirit, Penitential Psalms with Litany, Office of the Dead, and Suffrages—as well as a number of common accessory prayers. Based on the frequency and variety of added devotions, it appears that scribes included these for owners who wished to personalize their prayer books.

Page description: 

St. Philip: Philip Vanquishing Idols and a Demon
Border: Philip Baptizing (fol. 177)

Philip, a native of Bethsaida in Galilee and a married father of three, gave up everything to follow Jesus. In the Apostle's most famous miracle, he cast the Devil, in the form of a hideous dragon, out of a statue of Mars.

Statue of Mars
A group of Scythian pagans had attempted to force the saint to sacrifice to a statue of the god Mars, but a huge dragon suddenly emerged from the statue, slaying the son of the priest and the two tribunes who had arrested the saint. The beast's noxious breath of the sickened onlookers.

Poyer's miniature, however, depicts a horned demon (instead of the traditional dragon) fleeing from Philip, and four statues fall from the altar of Mars (the golden ones are men, the white ones women). Beneath the demon are the fallen bodies of the sick and wounded, soon to be restored to health.

Philip told the crowd that if they broke the statue and adored the Lord's Cross, the sick would be cured and the dead would be brought back to life. The crowd agreed, and the saint spoke to the dragon, sending it to a faraway desert. Philip then healed the injured and revived the dead, converting the entire city.

(Border) In this image the saint baptizes the first of a long line of new converts made as a result of the miracle. (Feast day: May 1)