MS M.917/945, pp. 244–245

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St. Ambrose
St. Augustine

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. 244–245

Archbishop Ambrose wears a miter and holds a book and crozier. He was famous for preaching sermons that could reconcile the bitterest of enemies, and in the border, natural enemies—mussels and the crab, which likes to feast on mussels' flesh—cohabit in harmony. Bishop Augustine also wears a miter and holds a crozier. He holds his attribute, a heart pierced by two arrows, a sign of his remorse over the sins of dissipation he committed in his youth. Larger pierced hearts, suspended on chains held by demons and angels, form the border.


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