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
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
St. Michael the Archangel:
Michael Battling a Devil
Border: Fall of the Rebel Angels
Throughout the Middle Ages, St.
Michael's iconography varied. We
know him best in armor or at least
minimally carrying a shield (as
here) while slaying the Devil in the
form of a dragon or demon.
With a cross-surmounted spear
Michael stabs the defeated Satan, who is garbed in antique-
style armor (a convention Poyer
acquired while visiting Italy).
Michael is sometimes confused
with St. George, who also slew
a dragon, but there is an easy
way to distinguish the two.
George, a canonized human,
is never depicted with wings,
while Michael, an archangel,
always has them. (Feast day:
September 29, Michaelmas)
In the margin, Satan's corps of
rebellious angels, changed into
demons, fall into the flames of
St. Michael the Archangel
St. Michael the Archangel is God's commander in chief in the war against the Devil. In his dramatic confrontation with Satan at the beginning of time, Michael defeated his army and hurled the fallen angel and his minions into hell. At the end of the world it is said that Michael will return to earth for his final battle with the Antichrist. The archangel's second duty will be to weigh the souls of the departed and determine if they can enter heaven.
Michael's cult began in the East, where he was invoked for care of the sick (Constantine built a church near Constantinople for this purpose). A fifth-century apparition on Monte Gargano (in southeast Italy) was important in spreading the cult to the West. In the later Middle Ages, the Valois dynasty of French kings adopted him as their patron saint.