St. Anthony of Padua and the Miracle of the Mule
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.
St. Anthony of Padua and the Miracle of the Mule (fol. 25v, left)
A mule ignores a basket of feed and piously genuflects and receives communion from St. Anthony (the "Miracle Worker of Padua"), a miracle that converted nonbelievers to accept the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Anthony wears the robe of the Franciscan order, tied at the waist with the rope that reappears throughout the manuscript's decorative borders—the cordelière—a personal device of Anne de Bretagne. Anthony was canonized less than a year after his death in 1231; his basilica in Padua remains a popular pilgrimage site to this day.