MS M.917/945, pp. 138–139

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Creation of Eve
Eve and the Virgin

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. 138–139

The Saturday Hours of the Virgin begin with this full-page miniature of the Creation of Eve. In the verdant Garden of Eden, a blond God pulls an equally blonde Eve from the side of a fair Adam. All is light and bliss. Eve's creation starts the illustrative cycle for the Saturday Hours of the Virgin because she is the mother of sin, and her downfall necessitated the arrival of the "New Eve," that is, the Virgin. Mary will be the mother of Christ, the Savior through whom mankind will be cleansed of the Original Sin of our first forebears.

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