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Initial I: Saint Bernard Disputing with the Devil
Paris France Tours France (Place created)
Tempera colors, gold paint, gold leaf, and ink on parchment
Leaf: 11.4 x 8.3 cm (4 1/2 x 3 1/4 in.)
Partial gift of Gerald F. Borrmann
A clawed and horned devil tugs at the robe of Saint Bernard, trying to drive the saint to evil thoughts. The dispute between the devil and the saint revolved around the Verses of Saint Bernard; the devil claimed to know seven psalm verses that would ensure salvation when recited every day but said that he would not reveal their identity to Bernard. On hearing this, the saint informed the devil that he would henceforth recite all the psalms every day in order to be sure to say the seven particular verses. The devil was so frightened at the thought of such a display of piety that he immediately revealed the identity of the verses. The image, part of a letter I, introduces the seven verses in Simon de Varie's book of hours. Unrelated to the psalm verses are the images in the border, which include two hybrid, part-snail creatures, each perched on a tuft of grass.