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You are here: Home About us Cultural events Exhibitions Exhibit of the Month - June 2024

Exhibit of the Month - June 2024

June 12 - July 9, 2024 Ante-room to the General reading Room (gate A), open Monday to Saturday 9 am - 7 pm (see opening hours of the NL)
Admission 20 CZK (free for the NL readers)

Hours and Prayers
Bohemia 1480–1490
NL Prague, shelfmark XVII G 3
f. 110v

The exhibited manuscript contains a set of prayers intended for regular reciting during the day as well as prayers for various occasions. The first 130 folios contain transcribed liturgical hours – psalms, hymns and prayers, which were recited at night (Matins), at dawn (Lauds), at six in the morning (Prime), at nine in the morning (Terce), at noon (Sext), at three in the afternoon (None), in the early evening (Vespers), and before going to bed (Compline). Included are the Hours on the Passion of Christ, the Hours of Eternal Wisdom, and the Hours of the Virgin. They are followed by seven Penitential Psalms, which were a regular part of prayer books.  At the conclusion, there are various prayers (prayer to the Guardian Angel to grant protection, worship of Christ’s suffering, penitential prayers etc.).

The first owner of the book remains unknown, but an inscription at the end of the manuscript sheds light on its subsequent history. In 1575, Abbess Dorota of Krumlov (Krumau) bought the book for the Benedictine convent of St. George at the Prague Castle. The journey to the convent’s library is notably intriguing; the manuscript was initially commissioned by a Utraquist patron, as can be read from the Communion prayers. They repeatedly mention the Communion under both species. In one place, the reference about receiving the blood is crossed out (“His Holy Blood which I drank”). In other places, however, these wordings are left intact, including rubricated headings (e.g. the heading of the prayer “After receiving both, namely the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ”).

The manuscript is quite richly decorated. It contains sixteen figural initials and other decoration including the scrolling floral motifs at margins. The open page shows the scene of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary in the initial B (f. 110v). Here, pregnant Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, who, despite her advanced age and presumed infertility, is also expecting a child, the future John the Baptist. Luke the Evangelist recounts that the child in Elizabeth’s womb leapt for joy during the encounter, signalling to Elizabeth that Mary would be the Mother of the Saviour. Scenes from Mary’s life were commonly used to divide the individual parts of the office, as is also evident from this example, where the scene introduces the prayers “at the third hour” of Marian Hours.

Jun 05, 2024
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