Initial S: The Virgin and Child
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French, northeastern France, about 1300
Tempera colors and gold leaf on parchment
10 3/8 x 7 3/16 in.

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An image of the Madonna and Child occupies the initial S that opens the prayer Sancta et perpetua virgo (Holy and perpetual virgin). The Virgin Mary, crowned and holding a scepter, balances the Christ Child on her hip as he reaches up with his right hand to touch her cheek. The image thus presents the Virgin both as the Queen of Heaven and as the human mother of the infant Jesus.

A knight in splendid armor kneeling at the bottom of the letter's extender offers a model of piety for the book's reader. The whimsy of the juggling monkey above the letter contrasts with the seriousness of the knight's prayer below.