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German, Hildesheim, about 1170s
Tempera colors, gold leaf, silver leaf, and ink on parchment
11 1/8 x 7 7/16 in.
MS. 64, FOL. 117V

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A full-page miniature illustrates the Mass for Pentecost. At the top of the page, the Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, flank Christ. They stand as symbols of God's presence at the beginning and end of time. In the center section, five apostles hold books. Bust-length figures in niches above and below gaze up at Christ. The texts below them relate thematically to the descent of the Holy Spirit, which occurred at Pentecost.

This unusual representation of Pentecost does not show the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, the most common subject. Instead it depicts Peter, identifiable by his short gray hair and beard, surrounded by the apostles during the sermon he gave on Pentecost.

Detail Views

Luke and text
Luke and text

Joel's inscription

King Solomon
King Solomon's text

Prophet and text
Prophet and text

Paul's text