Fol. 180v

Jean Poyer

St. Claude of Besançon: Claude Resuscitating a Dead Man
Border: Pilgrims Kneeling Before Claude's Shrine

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. 180v)
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. Claude of Besançon: Claude Resuscitating a Dead Man
Border: Pilgrims Kneeling Before Claude's Shrine (fol. 180v)

Claude, as in the miniature, is usually depicted as a bishop with miter and crosier. Here, as a result of his blessing, a dead man sits up in his grave, newly restored to life. (Legends often mention a dead child.)

Born at Salins in 607, Claude of Besançon was said to be from a Roman senatorial family. At the age of twenty he gave up a military career to become canon of Besançon; later he became a monk at the monastery of St. Oyend in the Jura Mountains, where he was subsequently elected abbot. As abbot, Claude applied the rule of St. Benedict and restored the monastery's buildings. In 685 he was chosen bishop of Besançon but retired eight years later to Condate, where he later died and was buried (6 June 699). His burial place (later called Saint-Claude) was a popular pilgrimage site, and miraculous cures took place there, including the resuscitation of three drowned children and a dead boy.

In the margin a group of pilgrims worships before the jewel-encrusted shrine containing the saint's relics. A woman in contemporary court dress kneels in front. Claude was often prayed to by French nobility for the birth of sons. At the rear hobbles a lame man, hoping for his eventual cure. (Feast day: June 6)