Transformations of Print into Painting: A Case Study of the Context of Prints in an Illustrated Brigittine Psalter (Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Typ 197) — by Melis Taner

A liturgical psalter made around the turn of the 16th century at the Brigittine abbey of Mariënwater, in Rosmalen near ’s-Hertogenbosch in the northern Netherlands (Houghton Library MS Typ 197), contains two miniatures: Saint Anne with the Virgin and Child (Anna Selbdritt) (fig.1) and Man of Sorrows with the Instruments of the Passion (fig.2). Both miniatures are based on prints of the same subjects by Israhel van Meckenem (d.1503). The psalter also includes the text of St. Birgitta’s Sermo Angelicus.

This liturgical psalter raises issues of the production and consumption of religious texts in convents in the northern Netherlands. In particular, it highlights issues of female spirituality and pastoral care of nuns in the Brigittine order; as well as the relationship between print culture and manuscript production. The manuscript is an example of how prints, which are copied to be made widely available, are appropriated as paintings in a manuscript that is made in and for a female audience. The two prints are thus recontextualized when seen within the context of the whole manuscript, and within the context of Brigittine devotion. The two paintings were produced in an order that emphasizes the compassion and sorrow of Mary at the suffering of Christ. In this context, the manuscript portrays ideas of predestination, linking an Old Testament text with New Testament images, and connecting the Word to the flesh and blood of St. Anne and Mary, and prefiguration to the compassion of the Virgin.[1] This paper will approach the manuscript from two angles: first, that of the relationship of its two images to each other and to Brigittine devotion within the larger context of female spirituality. It will suggest that the manuscript was made for a female audience, and that the two paintings along with two initials and a marginal decoration reflect ideas of Brigittine devotion. Second, it will look at the relationship of the images to prints in a larger context of a cross-referential visual culture in the Low Countries in the late middle ages.

The Manuscript

As the Houghton manuscript has not received much attention in print, I offer a brief description of its content here in order to contextualize its two main paintings. The 237-folio manuscript, executed on vellum, is a liturgical psalter following an eight-part division corresponding to the groupings of the psalms for successive days. It includes a calendar of the diocese of Liège, to which Mariënwater belongs. While not heavily illustrated, the manuscript has delicate floral decoration on some of the folios, reminiscent of border decoration from Delft, southern Netherlands or Liège,[2] and two paintings. The two miniatures are based on prints by Israhel van Meckenem, but their color scheme and the delicate figures with downward-gazing, rosy-cheeked faces are typical of the area around Mariënwater.

The manuscript opens with a calendar of Liège, which includes the feast days of the Brigittines. The most important ones, such as the coronation of St. Birgitta, are marked in red.[3] The psalms begin on folio 8 with the heavily decorated Beatus page facing the painting of Saint Anne with the Virgin and Child on folio 7v (fig.1). This painting shows St. Anne seated on a throne, dressed in a pinkish garment with golden leaf patterns, and a blue outer garment with a similar design.  On her lap, a doll-like Virgin Mary is seated.  Mary wears a gold dress, with the sleeves of her blue garment visible beneath, and holds a green pear in her hand. A very active Christ Child stands on the green and brown checkered floor with one leg raised, his back to the viewer. He reaches up to the Virgin, who has taken his hand. Such a depiction of the infant Christ is unusual, for in most scenes of the Anna Selbdritt he would be depicted between St. Anne and the Virgin Mary, or on Mary’s lap. The way the infant Christ has been depicted in the painting is based on Israhel van Meckenem’s print on the same subject (fig.6). The dark blue background with gold and silver flower-like stars is further reflected in the blue outer garment of St. Anne with golden leaf patterns, and the golden dress of the Virgin, along with the blue and gold border around the miniature.

St. Anne with the Virgin Mary and Infant Christ (Houghton, MS Typ 197), fol. 7v.

Figure 1. St. Anne with the Virgin Mary and Infant Christ (Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Typ 197), fol. 7v.

The same heavily patterned dark blue background is also seen in the dark blue of the cloth the angels dressed in gold are holding up behind the living-dead Christ in the painting of the Man of Sorrows with the Instruments of the Passion on fol. 145 (fig.2). In this painting, a blond-haired Christ is depicted standing up in his sepulchre, pointing to his side wound with his right hand, with the wounds on his hands also visible. The blood from his wounds is repeated in the red of the inside of his cloak. The miniature is set in a double frame, with the cloth backdrop held by two angels forming one frame behind Christ’s body, and another arched frame held by two more angels on the upper corners of the image. This painting is a conflation of two prints by Israhel van Meckenem (figs. 8-9).

Man of Sorrow with the Instruments of the Passion (Houghton Library MS Typ 197, fol. 145).

Figure 2. Man of Sorrow with the Instruments of the Passion (Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Typ 197), fol. 145.

The Man of Sorrows with the Instruments of the Passion marks the beginning of St. Birgitta’s Sermo Angelicus after a praise of St. Birgitta. This section is interspersed with antiphons and the Cantus Sororum,[4] and Marian hymns between each Lesson. All the psalms are included in order with the exception of the Athanasian Creed interpolated on an additional folio between verse 32 and 33 of Psalm 118.[5]

The inclusion of the Sermo Angelicus is rare, for despite the numerous manuscripts executed in the Mariënwater scriptorium and the connections of the Sermo Angelicus to the sisters’ liturgy, few liturgical psalters or breviaries include the Sermo Angelicus.[6] The inclusion of the Sermo Angelicus, a text on Marian devotion “form[ing] a distinctive  part of the nuns’ liturgy,”[7] as well as a note on folio 138 marking the beginning of the sisters’ vigil (hic incipit vigilie sororum), suggests that the manuscript was created for the use of the sisters in their liturgy. The Brigittine order in Mariënwater had a scriptorium where manuscripts were produced both for the order’s own use and for others, as evidenced by an illuminated prayerbook copied by the Brigittine brother Peter Danielssoen van Dordrecht (d. 1471) for Heilwig, daughter of Dirk Borgreve and widow of Dirk van Kessel.[8] The existence of this scriptorium combined with the unusual contents of the manuscript make it likely that the Houghton manuscript was made by the nuns in the Mariënwater convent for their own use.

St. Birgitta and the Brigittine Order

Brigittine devotion and visionary writings, as well as the Order’s liturgical practices, are critical in understanding the relationship of the two miniatures of this liturgical psalter. These writings emphasize the Virgin’s compassion and sorrow at the suffering of Christ. St. Birgitta was a visionary saint who lived in Sweden in the early decades of the fourteenth century.[9] Her vita notes that even as a child she had been receiving visions. At the age of six, while still awake, she saw “an altar just opposite her bed and a lady in shining garments sitting above the altar,”[10] who presented her a crown. She started her active religious life after the death of her husband, when she received a vision commanding her to hear the “voice” calling out to her. The voice commanded her, for the salvation of others, to be Christ’s bride and channel, whereby she would “hear and see spiritual things.”[11] As the “king’s wife” (sponsa regis) as she refers to herself in her writings, and the “wife and channel” (sponsa et canale) of her vision, she was to be a “communicator of divine knowledge.”[12]

Her role as the sponsa was not a passive one, nor were her visions those of mystical union. Rather, she is “commissioned to be the conduit of Christ’s word, a medium through which divine words are spoken, and through which she is to communicate God’s message to mankind for its salvation.”[13] The Sermo Angelicus, included in the Houghton manuscript, is a product of her visions, dictated to her by an angel while she was in Rome. The Swedish text, translated into Latin by Magister Peter, is devoted to the Virgin Mary and marks the distinctive character of the Brigittine nun’s liturgy.[14]

The double order of the Brigittines had a strong devotion to the suffering of Christ, and in particular, the Virgin’s compassion. As such, liturgy was centred largely around the Virgin Mary. The brothers and the sisters had their own offices at different times, and strict enclosure was observed. The brothers of Mariënwater used the breviary of the diocese of Liège to say the divine office. The sisters had their own breviary, put together by St. Birgitta, who in several visions had noted down the “lessons to be read by the sisters at matins throughout each week.”[15] The brothers would sing their praise to Jesus, and the sisters to Mary,[16] and the singing would continue non-stop throughout the day, focusing on a different Marian theme each day.[17] The emphasis on Mary, on her birth, and on the Immaculate Conception in these lessons highlights the particular choice of the two paintings in the Houghton manuscript, and suggests that the manuscript is closely tied to the liturgical practice in the convent.

Among the body of works produced in Brigittine convents, the Houghton manuscript is unique in its inclusion of the Sermo Angelicus. The choice of the paintings suggests that the manuscript is entwined with practices of female devotion, an idea supported by two of the marginal drawings. The Sermo Angelicus in particular emphasizes the prefiguration of Mary’s bearing the Redemptor, as well as her virtue and her Immaculate Conception. The text was also meant to serve as a basis for the foundation of the Brigittine order, where twenty-one lessons would be read over the week at matins and constant praise would be given through the Virgin Mary. The daily lessons dealt with different topics, including the birth and childhood of the Virgin, the Incarnation, the suffering of Christ, and the assumption of the Virgin. It also emphasized the motherhood of the Virgin and her role as an intercessor as having been prefigured. St. Birgitta writes in the Lesson for Wednesday:

devout spouses are like beautiful trees: they have one root from two hearts. They are married for one reason: to provide honour and glory to God […]There is no other joy in such marriages but in repaying honour and glory to God. […] God knew beforehand that Joachim and his wife Anna were such persons; therefore, he foreordained that his little home, the body of his Mother should be constructed of them.[18]

The idea of prefiguration is thus extended to St. Anne as well, who was to bear the Virgin Mary, and through her, Christ. The Sermo Angelicus and Brigittine devotion emphasize this same depiction of the mother as divine conduit. The painting of the Anna Selbdritt too highlights the role of motherhood, not only for St. Anne and the Virgin but also for St. Birgitta. When read with Birgitta’s Sermo Angelicus and the emphasis on prefiguration, it points to the idea of preventive atonement, that Mary was cleansed through Christ’s salvific action before he was born. St. Birgitta’s Revelationes stresses the Virgin’s Immaculate Conception. In a vision, Mary speaks to St. Birgitta, saying, “He joined my father and mother in so chaste a marriage that there was no more chaste couple then to be found. They never desired to come together except in accordance with the Law, solely for the sake of procreation.”[19] The issue of the Immaculate Conception, marriage and chastity comes up again and again in the Revelationes and the Sermo Angelicus, which hint at St. Birgitta’s own past as a mother, and her reformist role in the “salvation of mankind,”  where her writings and visions find an audience in a female context. By the mid-fourteenth century “the tie between holiness and virginity had become looser, and obedience more emphasized,”[20] as for example, in another voice saying to Birgitta: “Virginity merits a crown, widowhood comes near to God, marriage is not excluded from heaven. But obedience brings all into glory.”[21] This suggests a need to reconcile marriage and sanctity. I believe that in an order that emphasizes Marian devotion, and in the context of the writings of St. Birgitta that emphasize motherhood, the painting of the Anna Selbdritt would bring up such ideas for the viewers of the manuscript.

The salvific role of Mary is emphasized throughout the Sermo Angelicus. The first lesson of the Sermo Angelicus writes that from the beginning, the Virgin was “seen by God as more excellent than anything else which could be created.”[22] In the text she is compared to Noah’s ark, “which before time God knew what [it] would be like.”[23] It is thus in her body, the ark, that Christ, the Word, was made Flesh. Through proximity to the Virgin and Child and the fulfillment of predestination, Anne too takes on a salvific role and her images acquire apotropaic powers. Seen from this perspective, the illustration of the Psalter, an Old Testament text, with a New Testament subject carries the idea of predestination which is then fulfilled in the second image of the manuscript, the Man of Sorrows. The emphasis on the motherhood of the Virgin, on the Immaculate Conception, and on her predestination as the bearer of salvation is reflected in the first painting that opens the manuscript. It is through her body that Christ is borne, and through her that salvation is brought. The idea of the salvation of humanity is reflected in the second painting that opens the text of the Sermo Angelicus.

Between 1470 and 1530 St. Anne gained increasing popularity, especially in northern Europe.[24] The number of prints showing St. Anne and the numerous sculptures[25] depicting the Anna Selbdritt testify to the growing interest in the saint in this period. For the Brigittine audience of the Houghton manuscript, the inclusion of the painting of the Anna Selbdritt both reflects ideas of sanctity and motherhood central to Brigittine devotion and the popularity of the cult of St. Anne. Virginia Nixon argues that one of the main reasons for St. Anne’s increasing popularity in Germany and the Netherlands was the saint’s salvific role, as “she had the power not merely to intercede as other saints might, but to exercise direct power of her own, a power that arose out of her own flesh and blood connection with Jesus and Mary.”[26] The salvific power ascribed to St. Anne was absent in earlier accounts of Anne’s life, like Jacobus de Voragine’s Legenda Aurea, and it was in the late 15th century that lives of St. Anne began to incorporate the idea of her salvational powers.[27]  It is written in a Flemish devotional work from the last quarter of the sixteenth century: “O Holy Mother Saint Anne show us eternal consolation and refuge in all our needs and open for us the door of heaven.”[28] This short passage shows the particular salvific powers that St. Anne has in comparison to other saints: she has the power to open the door of heaven rather than just acting as an intercessor. This power to open the door of heaven is also linked with the saint as presiding at the deathbed, and helping the soul enter heaven, and in turn, battle the devil.

The salvific role in opening the door of heaven that is bestowed upon St. Anne in the passage above is also reflected in the Houghton manuscript with regard to the Virgin. Here, before the last lesson of the Sermo Angelicus on how “when others doubted the resurrection of Christ, the Virgin was steadfast in the true faith,”[29] it is noted that through the Virgin the gates of heaven are opened (“paradisi porte per te nobis aperta sunt”). On the bas-de-page of folio 212v, containing the the hymn O Gloriosa Domina, which is the second half of the longer hymn Quem terra, Pontus, aethera, a hound, hare, hart and unicorn are depicted among floral decoration, with phylactery banners coming out from their mouths (fig. 3). These were popular Marian hymns and played an important part in the devotion to the Virgin. O Gloriosa Domina stresses the idea of atonement, saying “What man has lost in hapless Eve, thy sacred womb to man restores.” Juxtaposed with the initial sorrow of the Virgin at the suffering of Christ and her subsequent joy on the salvation of mankind described in the lesson before, the hymn and the image of the unicorn, with the word “memorare” coming out of his mouth, work together to emphasize Mary’s virginity and the idea of preventive atonement. The marginal decoration of the unicorn and the hart, with the words “novissima” and “memorare” coming out of their mouths further suggest a sense of memento mori, referring to  Ecclesiastes 7:40 — “In all thy works be mindful of thy last end and thou wilt never sin” (In omnibus operibus tuis memorare novissima tua, et in aeternum non peccabis). The unicorn is generally associated with Christ and its death also has connotations of the Passion of Christ. The hymn, with its Marian emphasis, and the drawings on the bas-de-page with their connotations of the Passion, further highlight the idea of the Virgin’s role as the bearer of salvation which was already introduced in the Anna Selbdritt (fol. 7v).

Figure 4. Initial "D", detail (Houghton Library MS Typ 197), fol 22v.

Figure 4. Initial “D”, detail (Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Typ 197), fol 22v.

Figure 5. Initial "T", detail (Houghton LIbrary MS Typ 197), fol.  131.

Figure 5. Initial “T”, detail (Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Typ 197), fol. 131.

Two initials in the Houghton manuscript bearing the images of a heart on a cross and a bleeding heart (figs. 4-5) hint at the suffering of Christ. One marks the beginning of Psalm 21 (fol. 22v), and the other marks the beginning of the Te deum laudamus (fol. 131). When seen together with the two miniatures and the marginal decoration described above, the initials reflect both the suffering of Christ and the Virgin’s compassion. Psalm 21 was commonly interpreted as portraying Christ’s tormentors[30] and the suffering of Christ; the initial D with depictions of the wounded heart on the cross indicates the suffering of Christ. In a manuscript that is not extensively decorated, the inclusion of these marginal decorations and the initials emphasize the ideas of the suffering of Christ and the compassion of the Virgin that are central to Brigittine devotion. Thus the marginal details work with the themes already shown in the full-page miniatures.

The paintings in the context of print culture

In addition to expressing Brigittine ideas of compassion, suffering and the predestination of the Virgin as the bearer of salvation, the two paintings in the Houghton manuscript result from the proliferation of prints in the transitional period of the late 15th century, and the relation between print and painting. Manuscripts with prints inserted are numerous in this period.[31] With different sources of influence and complex relations, they create a cross-referential visual culture.

The two paintings of the Houghton manuscript are based on prints by Israhel van Meckenem, a German print-maker and goldsmith. The Anna Selbdritt (fig. 6), set in an architectural setting in the print, includes an inscription below: “Help holy lady, Saint Anne, self three” (Hulp heilige vrow sant Anna self derde).[32] Israhel van Meckenem’s print, which was made in several variations with slightly different inscriptions, feeds into the increasing interest in the cult of St. Anne and her salvational powers. The inscription below the print particularly highlights this aspect. The painting, while based on the print, is not a slavish copy. In Van Meckenem’s print a Gothic portal forms a frame around the three figures. Two male figures stand on colonettes on the jamb, wrapped in phylactery banners. These two figures interact with each other as well as the three main figures, possibly acting as intermediaries between the viewers and St. Anne, the Virgin and Child. The architectural framework is missing in the painting, which places the figures in a celestial space against a starry sky, not the more earthly throne depicted in the print. The painting also adorns the Virgin and St. Anne with halos that the print omits. Another interesting addition in the miniature painting is the green pear held by the Virgin, which may have had connotations with pregnancy. These changes emphasize the particular concerns of the Brigittine order and their glorification of the direct access to heaven given to Mary and Anne.

The figure of the active Christ Child is most likely influenced by prints of children by the Housebook Master, whom Israhel van Meckenem also copied. The figure is also reminiscent of the infant Christ depicted in an engraving attributed to the Master of the Berlin Passion, which depicts the Virgin and Child in a garden. This engraving shows the figure of the infant Christ with one leg slightly lifted, almost trying to reach his mother’s lap, and with one arm lifted. It is repeated in yet another engraving by Israhel van Meckenem depicting the Virgin Mary with the infant Christ in the garden (fig. 7). These varied poses are widespread in this period, especially in border decoration.[33] This the painting combines poses and ideas from several prints, not just van Meckenem’s Anna Selbdritt.

The Man of Sorrows with the Instruments of the Passion miniature is also based on prints by Israhel van Meckenem. In the first of these prints (fig. 8), the painting’s central scene, of Christ arising from his sepulchre before a curtain held by two angels forms the entire image. Christ is depicted almost fully, from the knees up, standing in the sepulchre, with one hand right below his side wound. Instruments of the Passion are placed on either side, and a red frame circumscribes the entire image.

In the painting, this scene, already set against a curtain, is contained within another frame held by two more angels. The painting also includes the faces of the tormentors, which are added from another print by Israhel van Meckenem (fig. 9). This print[34] includes the inscription: “O vos omnes attendite et videte” (“O all you, pay attention and see”), referring to the Tenebrae Responsory, a part of the service in which candles are extinguished one by one. The inscription would remind the viewer of this part of the service and exhort him to contemplate Christ’s sorrow.[35] The inscription highlights the devotional aspect of the print through contemplation. Even without the inscription included in this print, the painting urges the viewer to contemplate Christ’s sorrow.

The rooster perched on the cross seems to be an original addition to the miniature, like the pear added to the image of the Anna Selbdritt. However, the faces of the tormentors, and the dark blue of the background, are also reminiscent of a scene depicting the Mass of St. Gregory in the Hours of Margriet Uutenham. This painting, in turn is based on a print by the Master of the Berlin Passion, which does include a rooster. Ursula Weekes suggests that the Masters of the Hours of Margriet Uutenham may be nuns based on visual parallels with another manuscript, the Hours of Margrit Block, whose colophon notes that the book was finished by the hand of sister Margrit Block. The Houghton manuscript and the Hours of Margriet Uutenham present two examples of the widespread interplay between prints and manuscripts in the late 15th century. While such manuscripts copied popular prints, they made changes and combined images to make paintings that were particularly suitable in local contexts.

Another early 16th century Brigittine manuscript from Mariënwater (British Library, MS Add. 14042), has several woodcuts sewn into the book, as well as eight other woodcuts, nineteen engravings and four miniatures. This manuscript, when read against the Houghton psalter, shows the complicated relationship between different media and its incorporation within a whole. With the woodcuts sewn into the parchment, the manuscript harkens to Heinrich Suso’s Exemplar,[36] in which Elsbeth Stagel, his “soul mate” mimicks his act of inscribing the monogram of Jesus Christ on his chest by sewing it on a piece of cloth and distributing it to the other nuns.[37] The sewing of prints in a manuscript, frequently likened to flesh, shows a similar act of devotion, through “prayer and work.” Jeffrey Hamburger notes that the verb operor meant to keep busy, as well as “to be engaged in worship,” and that “in the handiwork of the nuns the two meanings converged: work itself was a form of worship.”[38] One illustrated manuscript from Mariëntroon in Dendermonde includes Suso’s Hundert Betrachtungen und Begehrungen.  It is likely that Suso’s Exemplar and in particular, the sewing of the monogram on cloth, was not lost on the Birgittine audience. The process of sewing prints into the manuscript as “prayer and work,” which is also an important aspect noted in the Regula Salvatoris[39] reflects a practice whereby the making of the object is part of work and prayer and suggests that the liturgical psalter from Mariënwater too was made by nuns as part of this devotional practice.

The Houghton liturgical psalter is a product of a period where different media were in dialogue. While its two images are based on prints, they are translated into miniature painting with all its luxury, like the abundance of gold, silver and blue paint. The artist has also added details, such as the pear and the rooster. The addition of the pear, and the golden dress of the doll-like Virgin Mary with her long, blond hair, like that of the Virgin that had appeared to Birgitta in a vision when she was seven, might have added connotations that were especially important to the Brigittine nuns. That is to say, while the figure of the Anna Selbdritt with its salvific powers was already popular in prints, its translation into miniature painting with the added details aligned the subject matter of the print with the themes of the manuscript’s text, emphasizing the Virgin and the Immaculate Conception. While the prints’ multiple copies reached a wider audience than manuscript paintings, and could be viewed and used separately, their appropriation in the Houghton psalter recontextualizes them. Van Meckenem’s print of the Anna Selbdritt points to the saint’s potency and salvific powers, particularly with the inclusion of the inscription, but the image takes on an added meaning in the manuscipt when seen together with the Man of Sorrows. Similarly, the image of the Man of Sorrows is not simply a devotional image on the passion and sorrow of Christ, but in the context of the manuscript, also points to the Virgin’s compassion and sorrow at the passion of Christ.

The Houghton manuscript raises issues of the relation between text and image, as well as print and painting. The manuscript presents an example of the production of illustrated manuscripts in Brigittine convents, and reflects the interplay of different media in a cross-referential culture. Based on prints, its two paintings work together to portray Brigittine ideas of suffering and the compassion of the Virgin, as well as issues of predestination and the Immaculate Conception. Among the body of works produced in Brigittine convents, the manuscript is unique in its inclusion of St. Birgitta’s Sermo Angelicus. As a text that shows a great devotion to the Virgin Mary, and one that forms the basis for the nuns’ liturgy, its inclusion in the psalter highlights its use in the liturgy. Although they are based on existing prints, its two paintings work with each other and with the text to portray Brigittine ideas of suffering and the compassion of the Virgin, as well as issues of predestination and the Immaculate Conception.

Melis Taner

Melis Taner is a Ph.D. student at Harvard University. She specializes in Islamic Art and Architecture and is writing her dissertation on the production of illustrated manuscripts in late 16th century Baghdad. She is also fascinated by medieval art and hopes to continue her research in both fields.

[1] The first chapter of the first lesson says, “Therefore, this Word, that is, the Son of God, could not be seen or touched unless united with human flesh for the salvation of the human race.” Sancta Birgitta. Opera Minora II. Sermo Angelicus, ed. Sten Eklund (Uppsala: Almqvist, 1972), p. 80.

[2] The borderwork is interesting in that while the paintings are clearly identifiable as being from Mariënwater, I have not been able to identify the type of borderwork based on Anne Korteweg’s Kriezels, aubergines en takkenbossen: Randversiering in Noordnederlandse Handschriften uit de vijftiende Eeuw (Zutphen: Walburg Press, 1992). However, they are reminiscent of pen-work from Delft or Liège. Further work may shed more light on the manuscript’s production.

[3] The month of May also includes an additional feast day of St. Catherine of Siena, a popular saint in the northern Netherlands.  It will be interesting to delve into what place St. Catherine might have had in this context as a further avenue of research.

[4] See Viveca Servatius, Cantus Sororum, Musik und liturgiegeschichtliche Studien zu den Antiphonen des birgittinischen Eigenrepertoires (Uppsala: Studia musicologia Uppsaliensia, 1990).

[5] See for example Bodleian Library MS Buchanan, f. 2, a Birgittine breviary from the last quarter of the fifteenth century again from Mariënwater that also includes between verses 32 and 33 of Psalm 118 the Athanasian Creed.

With the Sermo Angelicus heavy in references to the trinitarian doctrine, the inclusion of the Athanasian Creed seems to be a refurbishment of trinitarian ideas.

[6] Karl Stooker and Theo Verbeij, Collecties op orde: Middelnederlandse handschriften uit kloosters en semi-religieuze gemeenschappen in de Nederlanden (Leuven: Peeters, 1997).

Extant manuscripts from Mariënwater include prayer books, Books of Hours, lives of saints, especially of St. Birgitta, her daughter Catherine of Sweden, St. Barbara and St. Catherine of Alexandria, a number of books on the passion of Christ, one of St. Bernard’s Sermon on the Song of Songs, and five manuscripts containing St. Birgitta’s Regula Salvatoris, and one, her Regula Caelestis. The relatively fewer extant Birgittine convents from Mariëntroon, in Dendermonde in the southern Netherlands, Mariënwijngaard in Utrecht and Mariënkamp in Kampen, also include similar texts, in addition to Thomas a Kempis’ Orationes de passione Domini, Thomas Aquinas’ Anima Christi, Pseudo-Bede’s Oratio de septem verbis Christi in Cruce, Henry Suso’s Hundert Betrachtungen und Begehrungen. One manuscript from 1476 from Mariënsterre in Gouda includes Geert Groote’s Epistelen en evangeliën met de glosa, Willem van Gouda’s Peregrinationes terrae sanctae, as well as a text on the passion of Christ.

[7] B. Morris, St. Birgitta of Sweden (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1999), p. 105.

[8] “Kunst uid de Bourgondische Tijd,” in In Buscoducis, 1450-1629: Kunst uit de Bourgondische Tijd te ’s-Hertogenbosch: de Cultuur van late middeleeuwen en renaissance, ed. A.M.Koldeweij (The Hague: Marssen, 1990), p. 16.

Also see Olsen, Handschriften, p. 226.

[9] St. Birgitta lived during a time of political instability, with royal fratricidal conflicts that lasted throughout the first two decades of the fourteenth century. She was born to an influential family; her father was a lawman and a member of the king’s council. She was married in 1316 to Ulf Gudmarsson, who like her father was a member of the king’s council. After the death of her husband in 1344, Birgitta devoted herself to active religious calling.

For more on Birgitta’s life see Morris, St. Birgitta of Sweden.  

[10] Quoted in Morris, St. Birgitta of Sweden, p. 37.

[11] Ibid., p. 65.

[12] Ibid., p. 66.

[13] B. Morris, Revelations of St. Birgitta of Swedenvol. 1 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 9.

[14] Ibid., p. 105.

[15] Ibid., p. xvii.

[16] John Halborg, The Word of the Angel(Toronto: Peregrina Publishing Co., 1996), p. 6.

[17] From Sunday through Tuesday, the theme was the joy of the future birth of Virgin Mary, celebrated by God, the angels, and the patriarchs respectively. The theme for Wednesdays was the Immaculate Conception and the birth and childhood of Mary, to be followed on Thursdays by the Annunciation and the birth of Christ. The theme for Fridays was the crucifixion of Christ and Mary’s sorrow over the suffering of Christ. Finally, Mary’s life after the death and resurrection of Christ, and the Dormition of the Virgin would be the theme for Saturdays.

See Van Liebergen, Birgitta van Zweden, 1303-1373, 600 Jaar Kunst en Cultuur van harr Kloosterorde (Museum voor Religieuze Kunst te Uden: Uden, 1986), p. 61.

[18] Eklund, Sermo Angelicus, p. 103.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] John Halborg, The Word of the Angel, p. 18.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Virginia Nixon, Mary’s Mother: Saint Anne in Late Medieval Europe (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), p. 1.

[25] Robert A. Koch, “Saint Anne with Her Daughter and Grandson: Notes on a Late Gothic Sculpture in the Art Museum,” Record of the Art Museum, Princeton University 29, No. 1 (1970): 8-15.

[26] Virginia Nixon, The Anna Selbdritt in Late Medieval Germany: Meaning and Function of an Image, Unpub. PhD Diss. (Montreal: Concordia University, 1997), p. 3.

[27] Nixon, Mary’s Mother, p. 42.

[28] De Gulden Letanien (Antwerp: Heinrich Wouters, 1575). Quoted in Nixon, Mary’s Mother, p. 46.

[29] Eklund, Sermo Angelicus, p. 128.

[33] See for example several folios from a Book of Hours from Naples sold at Christie’s (London, King Street, Sale 6853, Lot 24, 19 November 2003).

[35] The following line continues: “If there is any pain like my pain” (Si est dolor similis sicut dolor meus).

[36] Jeffrey Hamburger, Nuns as Artistsp. 178.

[37] Ibid., p. 178.

[38] Ibid., p. 184.

[39] Eklund, Regula Salvatoris, p. 128.


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