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Initial Q: A Priest Stabbed by a Soldier
Bute Master (Franco-Flemish, active about 1260 - 1290)
Paris (written) France Northeastern (illuminated) France (Place created)
text and illumination about 1285
Tempera colors, gold, and iron gall ink on parchment
Leaf: 17 × 11.9 cm (6 11/16 × 4 11/16 in.)
Inside the initial Q opening Psalm 51, a priest prays before an altar, seemingly unaware of the soldier about to attack him. The figure depicted may be Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1170 he was stabbed to death in Canterbury Cathedral; soon afterward, he was canonized as a martyr and the cathedral became a popular pilgrimage site. The theme of Christian persecution continues in the lower margin, with an animated scene of archers shooting arrows at two nude figures whose haloes identify them as saints. The illuminator may have taken his inspiration from the opening lines of the psalm, Quid gloriaris in malicia qui potens es in iniquitate (Why would you be glorified in malice, you who are powerful in iniquity?), interpreting those who are "powerful in iniquity" as persecutors.
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