MS M.917/945, ff. 66v–67r

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Joseph of Arimathaea before Pilate

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 and with special assistance of Mrs. Frederick B. Adams, Sr., Mrs. Robert Charles, Mr. Laurens M. Hamilton, The Heineman Foundation, Mrs. Donald F. Hyde, Mrs. Jacob M. Kaplan, Mrs. John Kean, Mr. Paul Mellon, Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Morgan, Mr. Lessing J. Rosenwald, Mr. and Mrs. August H. Schilling, Mrs. Herbert N. Straus, Mrs. Landon K. Thorne, Mrs. Alan Valentine, Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Whitridge, and Miss Julia P. Wightman, 1970

MS M.917/945, ff. 66v–67r

The old turbaned centurion points to the crucified Christ and declares that indeed he was the Son of God: V(er)e filius d(e)i e(st) iste is inscribed on his scroll. On Christ's right, salvific blood drips from the wound in his hand onto the body of the good thief; on Christ's left, the bad thief, who turns away, receives no purification. At the foot of the Cross, Mary faints into the arms of John while the Magdalene commiserates. In the small miniature, Joseph of Arimathaea and, behind him, Nicodemus humbly ask Pilate for the body of the dead Savior. In the bottom border, a patently secular chase of rabbits by hounds is, nevertheless, an analogy for the Passion.

Hours of the Passion

The Hours of the Passion are often found in Books of Hours following, as in Catherine's manuscript, the Hours of the Virgin. The lengthy psalms are supplemented with prayers that narrate the story of Christ's Passion. If Catherine had little time, she might pray Matins alone, where the three lessons encapsulate the entire Passion, from Christ's Arrest until his Death on the Cross. A slower meditation is provided by the remaining Hours. The drama begins at Vespers, whose prayer narrates events from Holy Thursday: the Last Super and Christ Washing the Feet of the Apostles. Compline's prayer relates Christ's Agony in the Garden. The prayer at Lauds relates to Christ Before Pilate and Peter's Denial. The Passion concludes with None's prayer telling of Christ's Death on the Cross.


Image courtesy of Faksimile Verlag Luzern