MS M.917/945, ff. 142v–143r

Last Supper
The Celebration of Mass Observed by Moses and 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 and with special assistance of Mrs. Frederick B. Adams, Sr., Mrs. Robert Charles, Mr. Laurens M. Hamilton, The Heineman Foundation, Mrs. Donald F. Hyde, Mrs. Jacob M. Kaplan, Mrs. John Kean, Mr. Paul Mellon, Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Morgan, Mr. Lessing J. Rosenwald, Mr. and Mrs. August H. Schilling, Mrs. Herbert N. Straus, Mrs. Landon K. Thorne, Mrs. Alan Valentine, Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Whitridge, and Miss Julia P. Wightman, 1970

MS M.917/945, ff. 142v–143r

This large miniature marking the Mass of the Blessed Sacrament illustrates the Last Supper. Christ gives Judas the sop by which he identifies his betrayer; as Judas accepts this, a tiny demon enters his mouth. (John, leaning on the Savior's chest, sleeps through the critical moment, while Peter, to the left of Christ, appears aghast.) Biblical quotations interpret the event. The left one, from Psalms (77:25), refers to the "bread of angels," a phrase applied to the Eucharist. The right quotation, from Luke (14:15), praises those who have eaten bread in the kingdom of God. In the smaller miniature, representing the mystical union of the Old and New Testaments, Moses and St. Paul observe the celebration of Mass.

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