MS M.917/945, pp. 84–85

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Archangel Michael Giving Seth a Branch from the Tree of Mercy

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. 84–85

Michael will not allow Seth even a glimpse beyond the golden door into the Garden of Eden, whose verdancy is suggested by towering trees. The archangel does, however, offer Seth the sought-after branch from the Tree of Mercy. The tiny white animal atop the sluice at left could be a tiger, namesake for the River Tigris, from which the four rivers of paradise spring. In the bottom border, Seth's older brothers, Abel and Cain, offer sacrifices to God, whose hand blesses only Abel's lamb.

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