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Initial Q: A Priest Stabbed by a Soldier
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Bute Master
French, northeastern France, about 1270 - 1280
Tempera colors and gold leaf on parchment
6 11/16 x 4 11/16 in.
MS. 46, FOL. 71

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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.

Detail Views

Archer
Archer

Martyrs
Martyrs

Swordbearer
Swordbearer