MS M.917/945, pp. 228–229

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St. Bartholomew

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. 228–229

Bartholomew holds his attribute, the knife with which he was flayed alive. This Suffrage begins the famous sequence of folios on which imaginatively arranged objects adorn the borders. Here are intertwined pretzels, stretched by small figures and, at the right, crackers. The relationship of these baked goods to the apostle Bartholomew is either unknown or irrelevant.


Suffrages are short prayers to individual saints. As protectors of medieval people, saints were their doctor in plague, their midwife at childbirth, their guardian when traveling, and their nurse during toothache. If the Virgin was the figure to whom one addressed the all-important petition for eternal salvation, it was from saints that one sought more basic or temporal kinds of help. While the Virgin became, as the Mother of God, almost a goddess herself, saints retained more of their humanity and thus their approachability.


Image courtesy of Faksimile Verlag Luzern