Angels Displaying the Eucharist in a Monstrance
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne
Illuminated by Jean Poyer
The Pierpont Morgan Library, Purchased in 1905
This prayer book was commissioned by Anne de Bretagne, wife of two successive kings of France, Charles VIII and Louis XII, to teach her son, the dauphin Charles-Orland (1492–1495), his catechism. It was painted in Tours by Jean Poyer, an artist documented as working for the queen. The book is richly illustrated, and its thirty-four airy, light-flooded miniatures are among the most delicate examples of late-fifteenth-century art.
Angels Displaying the Eucharist in a Monstrance (fol. 11v, left)
On bended knees, two angels elevate a monstrance in which is displayed the consecrated Host, or wafer, which is stamped withan image of the Crucifixion. Behind them, two more angels raise their hands in awe.
Beginning in the late Middle Ages, gazing upon the Host, understood to contain, in transubstantiated form, Christ's body, was considered to be as spiritually effective as receiving it in communion. The miniature accompanies a prayer said at Mass during the Elevation of the Host.
A monstrance is a vessel in which the consecrated Host is displayed for the adoration of the faithful.