St. Christopher Carrying the Christ Child
Purchased on the Belle da Costa Greene Fund with the assistance of the Fellows, 1963
Christopher carries Christ—and the weight of the world—on his shoulders in a landscape considered the finest in the whole book. The depiction of the water, with its reflections, ducks, and leaping fish is unrivaled in manuscript illumination.
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