Leaf from a Gradual: Initial (R) with the Three Marys at the Tomb and "Noli me Tangere"

Leaf from a Gradual: Initial (R) with the Three Marys at the Tomb and "Noli me Tangere"

c. 1270-1300

Ink, tempera, and gold on vellum

Sheet: 55 x 33.5 cm (21 5/8 x 13 3/16 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1955.78

Fun Fact

The name gradual derives from the practice of singing on the “gradual” steps of a raised pulpit.

Description

This choral leaf introduces the introit, or opening prayers, of the Easter Sunday Mass. The historiated letter R begins the text Resurrexi, et adhuc tecum sum, alleluia (I arose, and am still with you, alleluia). Within the upper register of the initial, the artist represents the three women named Mary, mentioned in the gospels, who discovered Christ’s empty tomb. In the lower register, a scene known simply as noli me tangere (touch me not), recounts the appearance of Christ to Mary Magdalene following the Resurrection. When she recognized him, he asked that she not touch him but go to the disciples with the message that he was now risen.

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