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Missals from Silverstream Priory (2): Regensburg

Monday, October 17, 2016 5:46
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Today, we will look at a German altar missal.

Unfortunately, I did not record the date of this particular missal printed in Regensburg by the famous publisher Friedrich Pustet, but judging from the artistic style and the use of color printing, it is likely from the 1920s or 30s. (It certainly must predate the dogmatic definition of the Assumption, for reasons that will become clear later.)

This missal takes the prize for the largest number of thematic drawings I have ever seen in any altar missal. An incredible attention to detail governs every page, with capitals illuminated in reference to the particular day of the liturgical calendar rather than generically styled.

There is a luxuriant creativity at work here, perhaps at times distracting and whimsical, but full of vitality and boldness, that bespeaks a laudable desire to produce a new work of art rather than merely regurgitate past conventions. I cannot show all of the artwork (I took about 150 photos of this missal!), but the selection below will give a good sense of this missal’s uniqueness.

I wonder: Could we ever commission another such missal, where every saint had his or her proper emblem, where each solemnity was graced with an illumination? Perhaps one day, in better times, it will happen again — once we are no longer fighting about such arcane questions as whether sacramental marriage is between one man and one woman for life, or whether it is permissible to murder unborn humans (or to elect officials who think it is). We need a little Pax Romana first. But I digress…

It is charming to see how the Gospel of the day is often worked in.

A perfect image of the “Sursum corda” of the Mass

I love how the serpent is entwined around the initial.

Damascene with an icon; the introit reminds us of his miraculously restored hand

St. Paul of the Cross, with the introit perfectly illustrating both the saint and the text

St. Boniface: the image recalls his chopping down of a “sacred tree”

St. Camillus shown caring for the sick

S. Anne teaching the B.V.M. the ten commandments

(Note how the old Assumption prayers are crossed out, because of the new Propers of 1950)

For the Nativity of the B.V.M.

This is one of my favorites: only black, with the “lion” of the Offertory

The Prophet Isaiah looking a bit like a hippie street preacher

The Holy Innocents: their bodies in black below, their souls in red above

Joseph and Jesus building the letter E while Mary spins the distaff

The illumination for Passion Sunday

Holy Thursday: mandatum, institution, and Judas on the outside

Look closely at the left side: Abel, Abraham, Melchisedek, the Passover, and the Crucifixion

Remarkably, the care for detail extends even to the use of different illustrations for the same Introit. Thus, on three different pages where “Puer natus” is used, and again, at the repetition of “Adorate Deum” for the later Sundays after Epiphany, each bears its own image. Here is the “Adorate” sequence:

Next up: an Augustinian Missal from 1716.


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