MS M.917/945, pp. 152–153

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The Virgin Witnessing Christ’s Ascension

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. 152–153

In general, the Saturday Hours of the Virgin emphasize the joyful or momentous events of Mary's life. After Christ's Crucifixion, the Virgin was consoled when he reappeared to her following the Resurrection. The Ascension marks the end of Christ's time on earth. In the miniature, Mary alone (she is usually joined by the apostles) is witness to her son's disappearance into the clouds, his reentry into heaven.

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