Spanish Book of Hours

Las Horas de nuestra Señora segun el uso Romano.
Lyon: [Pierre Fradin] for the heirs of Jacobo Junty, 1560. (BRB1276)

The popularity of Books of Hours in Latin encouraged translations into vernacular languages throughout Europe. In Spain, however, the ecclesiastical authorities were especially conservative, and the Index of Prohibited Books published at Valladolid in 1559 specifically banned Books of Hours in Spanish. As a result, only foreign printers could make such editions available and these could only be used outside of Spain. By decree of the Council of Trent (1545–1563), Spanish translations of Books of Hours fell out of use, and most have been lost or destroyed. The exhibited example is a true rarity that survives in an exceptionally good state of preservation. The displayed opening features a woodcut of St. Luke, who according to legend painted the first icons of the Virgin and Child. This image introduces the passage from St. Luke’s Gospel (1:26–38) that describes the angel Gabriel’s Annunciation to the Virgin Mary. Translated into Spanish, this Gospel reading, like all vernacular renderings of the scriptures, was prohibited by the Church in Spain.

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