Prayers to the Virgin, fol. 21v

"Obsecro te": Holy Family

Hours of Henry VIII
Illuminated by Jean Poyer

France, Tours
ca. 1500
256 x 180 mm

Gift of the Heineman Foundation, 1977

MS H.8, fols. 21v–22r

"Obsecro te": Holy Family
Border: Musical Angels

Of all the optional prayers that owners requested, by far the most popular were two to the Virgin called, after their Latin incipits (opening words), the "Obsecro te" (I beseech you), fol. 21v, and the "O intemerata" (O incomparable one), whose miniature is missing.

Prayers to the Virgin (fols. 21v–29v)
The Hours of Henry VIII contains a number of common accessory prayers, including the set of four Marian devotions that follow the Gospel Lessons–"Obsecro te," "O intemerata," "Stabat mater," and the Mass of the Virgin.

Since the first part of the "Obsecro te" emphasizes the Virgin's special role in the Incarnation and reminds her of the joys of motherhood, miniatures illustrating the prayer, as in the Hours of Henry VIII, depict the Virgin with the Christ Child. Here St. Joseph, in an imporant parental role he is rarely given in Books of Hours, offers Jesus a pear.

"Obsecro te" miniatures often include musical angels: here they serenade the Holy Family with a lute, pipe and tabor, portative organ, and trumpet marine.