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Initial H: Saint Stephen
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Circle of the Master of the Golden Bull
Bohemian, Prague, about 1405
Tempera colors, gold leaf, and gold paint on parchment
22 1/4 x 15 5/8 in.
MS. 97, LEAF 1

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This initial H features Saint Stephen, dressed as a church deacon, holding and contemplating the stones with which he was martyred. Golden birds writhe in the background behind Stephen, echoing the saint's gently swaying posture, as well as the leafy foliage sprouting from the corners of the initial. The text that the letter introduces, Hesterna die dominus natus (Yesterday the Lord was born) is the chant sung on the feast day of Saint Stephen on December 26, the day after Christmas.