MS M.917/945, pp. 160–161

Download image: 

The Virgin and the Crucified Christ Intercede for Catherine of Cleves
Virgin and Child in a Grape Arbor

The Netherlands, Utrecht
ca. 1440
7 1/2 x 5 1/8 inches (192 x 130 mm)

Purchased on the Belle da Costa Greene Fund with the assistance of the Fellows, 1963

MS M.917/945, pp. 160–161

The large miniature that opens the Saturday Mass of the Virgin contains the third portrait of Catherine, kneeling at right. A saint (Leonard?) is behind her, and her humble demeanor contrasts with the intercession she is seeking. Her scroll petitions Mary to pray for her. The Virgin, bearing a breast, entreats her crucified Son to be kind to Catherine for the sake of the mother who nursed him. Christ takes time out from his death and asks, in the name of his wounds, that his Father spare the duchess. God responds, "Your prayer has been answered." The smaller miniature shows Mary quietly reading while angels babysit the Christ Child. More angels chant in the bottom border.

Hours and Masses for the Seven Days of the Week

The most unusual texts in Catherine's manuscript are the series of Hours and Masses for every day of the week. Medieval Christian tradition associated certain figures or themes with different days. Thus Sunday, the day of the Resurrection, was the Lord's Day; Thursday was connected with the Eucharist since that sacrament was instituted on Holy Thursday; and Monday was the day of the dead, since their torments were suspended on Sunday but recommenced the following day. In Catherine's prayer book, the themes for the Hours and Masses of the seven days of the week are:

Sunday the Trinity
Monday the Dead
Tuesday the Holy Spirit
Wednesday All Saints
Thursday the Blessed Sacrament
Friday the Compassion of God
Saturday the Virgin.

Image courtesy of Faksimile Verlag Luzern