MS M.917/945, pp. 36–73

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Jacob Struggling with the Angel

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. 36–73

Fortitude, the fourth gift of the Holy Spirit, is represented by Jacob's conquest of the angel. Catherine of Cleves would have been assisted in this obscure reference by the textual key provided in the top margin: "The strong Jacob says 'I will not let you go.' The angel begs, 'Let me go; dawn has arrived.'" The inspiring Dove of the Holy Spirit flies above the patriarch's head. The angel's sacerdotal garb, similar to that worn in previous miniatures, makes him analogous with the Holy Spirit.

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