Text, Textile, Blood: Mary under the Cross in an Illuminated Meditationes Vitae Christi (Oxford, Corpus Christi College, MS 410).

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Abstract

This essay considers an image in an illustrated manuscript of the Meditationes Vitae Christi (Oxford, Corpus Christi College, MS 410, dated ca. 1350) of Mary soaking her mantle with Christs blood at his Crucifixion. By the later Middle Ages an interest in Mary's bloody veil had emerged in Central Europe, possibly influenced by the proliferation of devotional texts that describe this action but certainly by Emperor Charles IV of Bohemias acquisition and display of veil relics among other cherished contact relics of the Virgin. However, the motif of Mary's bloody veil is unusual in Trecento art. I consider it in the context of MS 410, a remarkable illuminated Meditationes manuscript owned by a Franciscan woman, either a Poor Clare or an adherent of the Third Order of St. Francis. Within MS 4 l0 's unusually expansive Crucifixion cycle and in light of the meanings of Marian cloths in late medieval Italy, I argue that it is emblematic of the devotional reading experience intended by the codex, evoking both union and severance by recalling Mary's childbearing body and her materiai/maternal bond with her son.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-164
Number of pages34
JournalStudies in Iconography
Volume41
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • Manuscripts
  • Illumination of books & manuscripts
  • Maternal love
  • Corpora
  • Blood
  • Devotional literature
  • Crucifixion

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