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23 July 2011


I came across this by accident; the only information I have about it is that it is in the Church of St. James in Urtijëi, and that the Station of the Cross painted over the gouged-out portion is from the 18th century.

A large Christ stands in the manner of a Man of Sorrows. About His head, where the instruments of the Passion might be expected, are a sickle, a thresher, and adze and other tools. His wounds emit long thin strands of blood that connect to people engaged in various activities, all of them accosted by demons (although seemingly oblivious to both the blood and the demons). A priest celebrating Mass is not affected. A larger kneeling figure, a donor perhaps, is connected by white strands to a bedridden man and something in an open chest beside the bed. The inscription below him is only partly legible.

I have not encountered this iconography before, and I really do not know its proper interpretation. My first guess is that it is a moralizing picture on the sinfulness of neglecting and profaning the Lord's Day.

19 July 2011


16 July 2011


Sequence by Simon Stock:

Flos Carmeli,
Vitis florigera,
Splendor caeli,
Virgo puerpera

Mater mitis
Sed viri nescia
Esto propitia
Stella maris.

Radix Iesse
Germinans flosculum
Nos ad esse
Tecum in saeculum

Inter spinas
Quae crescis lilium
Serva puras
Mentes fragilium

Fortis pugnantium
Furunt bella
Tende praesidium

Per incerta
Prudens consilium
Per adversa
Iuge solatium

Mater dulcis
Carmeli domina,
Plebem tuam
Reple laetitia
Qua bearis.

Clavis et ianua,
Fac nos duci
Quo, Mater, gloria
Coronaris. Amen.

15 July 2011


The Liberal Arts

The Damned in Hell

Other Women's Voices:
[Herrad of Hohenburg's] canonesses already had access to Scripture; what she did was present them with the latest interpretations on the meaning of that Scripture. Therefore, she used not only the older theological authorities but also the new scholars of the 1100s, such as Anselm and Bernard of Clairvaux, as well as her own contemporaries, Peter Lombard and Peter Comestor, whose works now formed part of the core curriculum of the new all-male schools.

Herrad's goal seems to have been to bring together the best of the old and the new theology in a teaching manual - of both words and pictures - that would also be an aid to meditation for the canonesses, especially the novices, and perhaps also for the lay students. Besides the theological texts, the book also contained poetry and hymns (some accompanied by musical notation).

The result of all this was the Hortus deliciarum (Garden of Delight). It consisted of over 300 parchment leaves of folio size. In addition to the Latin texts, over 344 illustrations were used: at least 130 of these were brightly colored full-page illuminations, while smaller ones were put on the same pages as text; there were also drawings and tables. Many of the illustrations were given explanatory rubrics and in some cases detailed captions placed around the figures. In case the Latin terms weren't clear to the younger readers, German was frequently added.

The major part of the work may have been completed by 1185 although additions appear to have been made until Herrad's death. The manuscript (and one complete copy) survived fires and suppression of monasteries, only to be destroyed in an 1870 bombardment during a siege of the city of Strausbourg. All that exists now are copies of part of the text and some tracings and engravings that were made before 1870.

14 July 2011


Beinecke Library:
Of exceptional visual and iconographic sophistication, the Rothschild Canticles is one of the most unusual illuminated manuscripts to have survived from the Middle Ages. Produced for a nun at the turn of the fourteenth century, it served as an aid to mystical devotions in which images played as central a role as the written word. Visionary depictions of Paradise, the Song of Songs, the Virgin Mary, the Trinity, and hundreds of other subjects based on texts ranging from the Bible to the Lives of the Desert Fathers together form a devotional program that transports the reader toward contemplative union with God.

12 July 2011


This astronomical clock was designed and built by the mathematician Peter Fanzago of Clusone in 1583.

8 July 2011



Sequence by Adam of St. Victor:

Rex Salomon fecit templum,
Quorum instar et exemplum
Christus et Ecclesia.
Hujus hic est imperator,
Fundamentum et fundator,
Mediante gratia.

Quadri templi fundamenta
Marmora sunt, instrumenta
Parietum paria;
Candens flosest castitatis,
Lapis quadrus in praelatis
Virtus et constantia.

Templique sublimitas,
Fide recta,
Sunt fides, spes, caritas.

Sed tres partes sunt in Templo
Trinitatis sub exemplo
Ima, summa, media:
Ima signat vivos cunctos,
Et secunda jam defunctos,
Redivivos tertia.

Sexagenos quaeque per se,
Sed et partes universae
Habent lati cubitos:
Harum trium tres conventus
Trinitati dant concentus
Unitati debitos.

Templi cultus
Extat multus,
Odor domus,
Myrrha, stacte, casia;
Quae bonorum
Decus morum
Atque bonos
Precum sonos
Sunt significantia.

In has casa
Cuncta vasa
Sunt ex auro,
De thesauro
Praeelecto penitus:
Nam magistros
Et ministros
Decet doctos
Et excoctos
Igne Sancti Spiritus.

Sic ex bonis
Quae Rex David
Fiunt aedificia;
Nam in lignis
Res insignis
Vivit Tyri,
Cujus viri
Tractant artificia.

Nam ex gente Judaeisque
Sicut Templum ab utrisque
Conditur Ecclesia:
Christe, qui hanc et hos unis,
Lapishuic et his communis,
Tibi laus et gloria! Amen.

Englished by Digby S. Wrangham:

Solomon, the King, a Temple
Built, whose pattern and example
Christ, with Holy Church, appears:
He, its founder and foundation,
Sway, through grace's mediation,
As the Church's ruler bears.

Squarely built, this Temple's bases
Are of marble; each wall's space is
Formed of stones cut evenly:
Chastity's fair flower there twineth;
Each squared stone therein combineth,
Prelates' nerve and constancy.

Its far-reaching
Length, and stretching
Width, and height that tempts the sky,
Faith explaining
The true meaning,
Are Faith, Hope, and Charity.

Tripartite is this fair Temple,
After the Triune's example,
With first, third, and middle floor:
First, the living signifying;
Second, those in death now lying,
Third, those raised to life once more.

All the parts together rated,
Or alone, are calculated
Threescore cubits wide to be:
Triply do these three, thus blending,
Harmonize with the transcending
Trinity in Unity.

Gorgeous ritual
And perpetual
Scents, sweet smelling,
Fill God's dwelling,
Cassia, myrrh, and cinnamon;
Christian graces,
Prayers, and praises,
Grateful offerings at His throne.

In this palace
Is each chalice
A gold measure
From the treasure
Pre-elected secretly:
For all teachers'
Minds, and preachers',
Thoroughly furnished,
Purged, and burnished,
By the Spirit's fire should be.

Thus with treasure,
David's pleasure
Had collected,
Is erected
Solomon's great sanctuary;
But the dwelling,
All excelling, -
Timber sending,
Craftsmen lending, -
Tyre's art fashioned cunningly.

Formed of Jew and Gentile races,
Builds the Church her holy places,
As did both the Temple raise.
Christ, Who both in one unitest!
Corner-stone of each! the brightest
Glory be to Thee and praise. Amen.



Sequence by Adam of St. Victor:

Quam electi
Tuta aedificia,
Quae non movent,
Imo fovent
Ventus, flumen, pluvia!

Quam decora fundamenta
Per concinna sacramenta
Umbrae praecurrentia!
Latus Adae dormientis
Evam fundit, in manentis
Copulae primordia.

Arca ligno fabricata
Noe servat, gubernata
Mundi per diluvium.
Prole sera tandem foeta,
Anus Sara ridet laeta,
Nostrum lactans gaudium.

Servus bibit qui legatur
Ex camelus adaquatur
Ex Rebeccae hydria.
Haec inaures et armillas
Aptat sibi, ut per illas
Virgo fiat congrua.

Synagoga supplantatur
A Jacob, dum devagatur
Nimis freta litterae.
Liam lippam latent multa:
Quibus Rachel videns fulta,
Pari nubit foedere.

In bivio tegens nuda,
Germinos parit ex Juda
Thamar diu vidua.
Hic Moyses a puella,
Dum se lavat, in fiscella
Reperitur scirpea.

Hic mas agnus immolatur,
Quo Israel satiatur,
Tinctus ejus sanguine.
Hic transitur rubens unda,
Aegyptios sub profunda
Obruens voragine.

Hic est urna manna plena,
Hic mandata legis dena,
Sed in arca foederis.
Hic sunt aedis ornamenta,
Hic Aaron indumenta
Quae praecedit poderis.

Hic Urias viduatur,
Bethsabee sublimatur,
Sedis consors regiae.
Haec regi varietate
Vestis astat deauratae,
Sicut regum filiae.

Huc venit Austri regina,
Salomonis quam divina
Condit sapientia.
Haec est nigra sed formosa,
Myrrhae est thuris fumosa,
Virga pigmentaria.

Haec futura
Quae figura
Nobis dies gratiae:
Jam in lecto
Cum dilecto
Et psallamus:
Adsunt enim nuptiae.

Quarum tonat initium
In tubis epulantium
Et finis per psalterium.

Sponsum millena millia
Una canunt melodia,
Sine fine dicentia:

Englished by Digby S. Wrangham:


O how skilled the
Hands that build thee;
How secure thy walls remain;
Ne'er subverted,
But supported
Rather by wind, flood, and rain!

O how comely thy foundations,
By deep mysteries' celebrations
Shadowing forth the coming day!
Adam, when in sleep reclining,
From his side pours Eve, beginning
Thus a bond to last fro aye.

Noah, in ark of wood constructed,
O'er that flood is safe conducted,
Which did all the world destroy.
Great with offspring long awaited,
Aged Sarah laughs, elated,
Giving milk to feed our joy.

Thirst the servant-legate shaketh,
And its fill his camel taketh,
From Rebecca's water-pail.
She, as rings and chains she weareth,
Fitly thus herself prepareth
To assume the bridal veil.

Since it so the letter vaunteth,
Jacob now the Law supplanteth,
Whilst it roams forth far and wide.
Rachel, since she sees much hidden
From Leah's tender sight, is bidden
To an equal rank as bride.

Tamar, long a widow biding,
By the way her features hiding,
Doth twin-sons to Judah bear.
Here in basket made of rushes
Moses see, who, while she washes,
Was perceived by maiden fair.

Here the male lamb, immolated,
Wherewith Israel's tribes are sated,
And besprinkled with its blood.
Here the Red Sea, safe passed over,
Which the Egyptian host did cover
With its deep devouring flood.

Here the pot that manna filleth;
Here the Decalogue God willeth,
In the ark of covenant bound.
Here the Temple's decorations;
Aaron's robes for ministrations,
Chief the one that sweeps the ground.

Here his wife Uriah loseth;
Here the king for consort chooseth
Bathsheba, his throne to share.
As she by him takes her station,
Dons she gold's rich decoration,
Such as monarch's daughters wear.

Hither Sheba's queen progresseth,
She, whom Solomon impresseth
With his wisdom all-divine:
Black she is, but comely; blending
Charms, as when in smoke ascending
Myrrh and frankincense combine.

Things forth-coming,
Darkly looming,
'Neath types shaded,
Are paraded
Plainly by this day of grace:
With the dear one
Lying near one,
Rest we, raising
Psalms of praising;
For the marriage now takes place.

On first assembling for the feast
Is heard the trumpets' thrilling blast;
Sweet psalteries' notes ring forth at last.

The Bridegroom in ten thousand ways
These myriad minstrels hymn, whose lays
Are still the same, as still they raise
Their Alleluia's endless praise!



Sequence by Adam of St. Victor:

Clara chorus dulce pangat voce nunc alleluia,
Ad aeterni Regis laudem qui gubernat omnia!

Cui nos universalis sociat Ecclesia,
Scala nitens et pertingens ad poli fastigia;

Ad honorem cujus laeta psallamus melodia,
Persolventes hodiernas laudes illi debitas.

O felix aula, quam vicissim
Confrequentant agmina coelica,
Divinis verbis alternatim
Jungentia mellea cantica!

Domus haec, de qua vetusta sonuit historia
Et moderna protestatur Christum fari pagina:
"Quoniam elegi eam thronum sine macula,
Requies haec erit mea per eterna saecula."

Turris supra montem sita,
Indissolubili bitumine fundata
Vallo perenni munita,
Atque aurea columna
Miris ac variis lapidibus distincta,
Stylo subtili polita!

Ave, mater praeelecta,
Ad quam Christus fatur ita
Prophetae facundia:
"Sponsa mea speciosa,
Inter filias formosa,
Supra solem splendida!

"Caput tuum ut Carmelus,
Et ipsius comae tinctae regis uti purpura;
Oculi ut columbarum,
Genae tuae punicorum ceu malorum fragmina!

"Collum tuum ut columna, turris et eburnea;
Mel et lac sub lingua tua, favus stillans labia!"

Ergo nobis Sponsae tuae
Famulantibus, O Christe, pietate solita,
Clemens adesse digneris,
Et in tuo salutari nos ubique visita.

Ipsaque mediatrice, summe Rex, perpetue,
Voce pura
Flagitamus, de gaudere Paradisi gloria.

Englished by Digby S. Wrangham:

Let our choir now loudly join their Alleluia's brightest strains,
The eternal Monarch praising, who o'er all creation reigns!

Unto Him the universal Church uniteth us in love,
Like a shining ladder reaching to the heights of heaven above.

To His honour psalms of gladness we in tuneful strains upraise,
Paying thus the proper tribute to Him of our daily praise.

O hall of bliss! where, in due order,
Troops of angels gather continually;
And with divine words, alternating,
Join sweet strains of ravishing melody!

'Tis the home of which the former Testament did sound the praise,
And of which the New declareth that 'tis Christ Himself that says:
"Seeing I have chosen this to be my throne of purity,
Henceforth through undying ages here my resting-place shall be!"

Tower! on a Mount erected,
And with cement that melteth not upon it founded,
By perennial walls protected,
And with pillared gold surrounded,
Of divers jewels, polished with fine skill, compounded,
For their rarity selected!

Elect Mother! whom, blessing,
Christ is in these words addressing
Of impassioned prophecy:
"Rise, my lovely spouse! the fairest
'Mongst earth's daughters thou appearest,
Brighter than the sun on high!

"Lo! thy head is like Mount Carmel,
And the flowing locks upon it, with regal purple, red:
Doves' eyes do thine eyes resemble;
Like a piece of a pomegranate are the temples of thine head.

"Like a column is thy neck and like an ivory tower's walls;
Milk and honey 'neath thy tongue, thy lips a comb whence honey falls."

Therefore still with us, the servants
Of Thy spouse, O Christ! we pray Thee, in Thy never-failing love
Kindly deign Thou to be present:
Everywhere with Thy salvation visit us from heaven above!

Through her mediation also, King Mist High! perpetually
We implore Thee
Loudly, that with alleluias we 'midst joys of Paradise
May adore Thee!



Sequence by Adam of St. Victor:

Jerusalem et Sion filiae,
Coetus omnis fidelis curiae,
Melos pangas jugis laetitiae,
Christus enim desponsat hodie
Matrem nostram, norma justitiae,
Quam de lacu traxit miseriae,

In Spiritus Sancti clementia,
Sponsa sponsi laetatur gratia:
A reginis, laudum cum gloria,
Felix dicta.
Dos ut datur, crescit laetitia:
Quae dos! quanta! triplex potentia,
Tangens coelum, terram et stygia

Mira loquar, sed sanum credere:
Foederatam tam largo munere,
De proprio produxit latere
Formaretur ut sic Ecclesia
Figuravit in pari gloria
Adae costis formata femina,
Hostis Eva.

Eva fuit noverca posteris:
Haec est mater electi generis,
Vitae portus, asylum miseris
Et tutela.
Pulchra, potens, partu mirabilis,
Ut luna, sol, fulget spectabilis,
Plus acie multo terribilis

Multiplex est, singularis, una,
Generalis et individua;
Omnis aevi, sexus, simul una
Paris turmas.
Haec signata Jordanis fluctibus;
Haec quae venit a terrae finibus,
Scientiam audire cominus

Haec typicis descripta sensibus,
Nuptiarum induta vestibus,
Coeli praeest hodie civibus
Christo juncta.
O solemnis festum laetitiae;
Quo unitur Christus Ecclesiae,
In quo nostrae salutis nuptiae

Coetus felix, dulce convivium,
Lapsis ubi datur solatium,
Desperatis offertur spatium
Justis inde solvuntur praemia,
Angelorum novantur gaudia,
Laeta nimis quod facit gratia

Ab aeterno fons sapientiae,
Intuitu solius gratiae,
Sic praevidit in rerum serie
Haec futura.
Christus ergo nos suis nuptiis,
Recreatos veris deliciis,
Interesse faciat gaudiis
Electorum! Amen. 

Englished by Digby S. Wrangham:

Jerusalem and Sion's daughters fair!
And all the faithful crowd that worship there!
That ceaseless strain of tuneful joy prepare,
For Christ, Who doth all righteousness display,
Is to our Mother-Church espoused to-day,
That Church, whom He in love hath drawn away
From depths of woe.

Through the blest Spirit's mercy from above
The Bride rejoices in the Bridegroom's love:
Earth's queens with glorious praises doth she move
To call her blest.
'Mid greater joy still is her dowry given:
What! and how great! that threefold power, which heaven,
And earth below, and the dread judgments even
Of hell affects.

Belief is wise, though strange my tale: - that bride,
By gifts of such vast magnitude allied
To Him, was taken out of His own side
By the God-Man:
That thus the Church should form and shape receive
In equal glory, we a type believe
Was woman, formed - source of our sorrow, Eve! -
From Adam's rib.

Eve a stepmother hath been to her seed;
The Church to her elect a mother indeed,
Life's haven, an asylum in their need,
And sure defence.
She, beautiful and great, in birth divine,
Fair as the moon, clear as the sun doth shine;
More terrible than armies' serried line,
With banners dight.

Multifold is she, yet but one alone;
As all together, and each singly, known;
Of every age and sex, yet only one;
Troops she brings forth.
Jordan! thy waves a type of her appear,
And she, that from the ends of earth drew near,
That, face to face, she might the wisdom hear
Of Solomon.

She, whom these types, when understood, portray,
Robed for her marriage-feast in bright array,
Presides o'er all the heavenly host to-day,
The bride of Christ.
O holy joy's bright feast-day in the skies,
Which joins the Church with Christ in marriage-ties!
That marriage-day, whose rite mankind allies
With saving-health!

O happy gathering! O sweet feast of heaven!
When consolation to the lapsed is given,
And to the sinner, to despair now driven,
A breathing-space!
Here their rewards are to the righteous paid,
And angels' joys, renewed again, displayed;
Feast, by the grace of charity thus made
Too full of joy!

The fount of wisdom from the first hath known,
Through the clear insight given by grace alone,
As the due course of things hath onward gone,
What is to be:
Therefore may Christ, by these His marriage-rites,
Make us, refreshed thereby with true delights,
Partake those joys to which His love invites
All His elect! Amen.

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