Initial V: The Descent of the Holy Spirit

Object Details

Title:

Initial V: The Descent of the Holy Spirit

Artist/Maker(s):

Unknown

Culture:

Italian

Place(s):

Montecassino, Italy (Place created)

Date:

1153

Medium:

Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment

Dimensions:

Leaf: 19.2 x 13.2 cm (7 9/16 x 5 3/16 in.)

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The Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, descends from the arc of heaven into an illuminated initial V. The initial introduces the hymn sung at Vespers (the evening prayer service) on Pentacost Sunday. Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples, which occurred after the death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ, and marks the beginning of the Christian Church's mission to the world. The frenzied activity within the initial is particularly appropriate to Pentecost, which the Bible describes as "a sound of heaven, as of a mighty wind coming" that suddenly descended on the apostles, who then simultaneously preached in a variety of languages to a great crowd of people.

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Exhibitions
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  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), July 19 to October 10, 1993, (Cat.)
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  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 23 to June 13, 2004, (Cat.)
The Decorated Letter (2007) (November 13, 2007 to January 27, 2008)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 13, 2007 to January 27, 2008, (Cat.)