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. Helena Identifying the True Cross (fol. 26v, left)
The great claim to fame for St.
Helena, mother of Constantine
(the first Christian emperor),
was her discovery of the True
Cross. Legend has it that she
also found the crosses of the
two thieves crucified along with
Christ; she tested them all on a
corpse and knew that the life-
restoring cross must have been
After its discovery, the True
Cross became one of Christianity's most sacred relics. The
Library's Stavelot Triptych (on
view in the Heinemann Gallery)
is said to enshrine a piece of
the True Cross.