MS M.917/945, pp. 212–213

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St. Paul

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. 212–213

Paul, balding and with a long forked beard, stands in the ubiquitous setting of the tiled floor and textiled background. Dressed in a long blue robe and orange cloak, the apostle holds a sword, instrument of his martyrdom, and a book, the Gospels. In the border a child-like king, possibly David, wrestles with a lion. The meaning of this charming image and its connection to St. Paul are unclear.


Suffrages are short prayers to individual saints. As protectors of medieval people, saints were their doctor in plague, their midwife at childbirth, their guardian when traveling, and their nurse during toothache. If the Virgin was the figure to whom one addressed the all-important petition for eternal salvation, it was from saints that one sought more basic or temporal kinds of help. While the Virgin became, as the Mother of God, almost a goddess herself, saints retained more of their humanity and thus their approachability.


Image courtesy of Faksimile Verlag Luzern