French Book of Hours

Horae beatae Mariae virginis secundum usum Romanum.
[Paris: Germain Hardouyn, ca. 1525]. (BRB0615/B)

[Bound with:] Heures de Nostre-Dame, à l’usage de Rome [calendar only]. Paris: Jean le Begue, 1599.
[Bound with:] Devotes orasions [Paris: Nicolas Cavellier, ca. 1572].
[Bound with:] Sensuyuent aucunes belles preparations pour devotement recevoir le sainct Sacrement de lautel. Paris: Nicolas Cavellier, for Jacques Kerver, 1572.
[Bound with:] Oraison de S. Geneviefve. [Paris: Nicolas Cavellier, ca. 1572].
[Bound with:] Les Quinze effusions du sang de nostre sauveur et redempteur Jesuchrist. [Paris, ca. 1580].
[Bound with:] Vie de madame sai[n]cte Marguerite vierge et martyre. [Paris, ca. 1580].
[Bound with:] Jean Provost, Forme et maniere de confession de pechez. Paris: Laurent du Coudret, 1589.

The most popular devotional book of the Middle Ages, the Book of Hours brought a structured sanctity to each day of the year. Designed for private devotion to Christ, the Virgin Mary, and particular saints at appointed times of the day, its Latin prayers and Psalm readings offered Christian lay people a uniquely personal source of spiritual fulfillment and hope for salvation. The exhibited Book of Hours was printed circa 1525 on vellum, illustrated with fine woodcuts, and embellished with illuminated initials. A luxurious personal item, it lies open to the beginning of the prayers recited at the late-night Hour of Compline, introduced by a woodcut showing the Coronation of the Virgin Mary as the Queen of Heaven.

This Book of Hours had a long history of use. Several decades after it was printed the book was bound with seven later sixteenth-century publications in order to create a more comprehensive personalized prayer manual. The calendar of feast days at the beginning of the volume was replaced with a new calendar printed in 1599, while the other bound-in French devotional texts printed between 1572 and 1589 include meditations on the Holy Blood of Christ, prayers to St. Genevieve and St. Margaret, and a manual for confession. The combination of publications in this Sammelband attests to the popular practice during this period of binding together disparate devotional texts for personalized use.

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