Mar 12, 2008

Initial A [ngelus Domini descendit] from an Antiphonary: The Three Marys at the Tomb

Initial A [ngelus Domini descendit] from an Antiphonary: The Three Marys at the Tomb

c. 1280-1300

Ink, tempera, and gold on parchment

Sheet: 18 x 15.8 cm (7 1/16 x 6 1/4 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1952.232



This large initial A introduces the matins (about 2:30 AM) response for Easter: Angelus Domini descendit de celo... (An angel of the Lord descended from heaven...). The letter that begins the text is commonly and appropriately decorated with a depiction of this Easter morning event. The three holy women known as "the three Marys" (Mary Magdalene; Mary, the mother of James; and Salome) are shown approaching Jesus' tomb with jars of spice to anoint the body. They are met by an angel in dazzling white robes who announces that Christ has risen. The angel's wand tipped with a fleur-de-lys indicates that he is Gabriel. Below are the sleeping soldiers sent by Pilate to guard the tomb.

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