MS M.917/945, pp. 308–309

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St. Cecilia

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. 308–309

The noble Cecilia, engaging in the aristocratic sport of falconry, feeds a falcon. The avian theme continues in the textile background, which has the repeated motif of a winged boy holding a white hawk, and in the margins, which contain four large feathers. These feathers are in turn decorated with paired white wings, which are lures used to entice the bird back to the falconer. Also embellishing these large feathers are gold letters that, as elsewhere in the manuscript, have been interpreted as CD for Catherina Duxissa (Catherine the Duchess).


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