Prayer Book (MS M.739)


This prayer book, which conceivably belonged to St. Hedwig, features a vast prefatory cycle of approximately 160 Old and New Testament scenes, framed by inscriptions in German. These narrative scenes are depicted in unusually elaborate detail. The story of Susannah and the Elders, for example, begins at upper left with the heroine physically accosted by two older men, then falsely accused of adultery before a judge. Below, a young Daniel intercedes on her behalf, interrogating the elders. Finally, as punishment for their false witness, the men are stoned to death. The story of Daniel continues on the facing page. This elaborate tale of virtue in the face of corruption may have had special appeal to the book’s first, female owner.

Prayer Book (Cursus sanctae Mariae virginis), in Latin and German
Germany, Bamberg (?), ca. 1204–19
The Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.739, fols. 18v–19r
Purchased, 1928