« March 2012 »
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile

E-mail me:

Please visit
my main
web page
to see my
work as an

21 March 2012


His life, according to the Golden Legend of James of Voragine, as Englished by William Caxton.

Sequence for his feast:

Laeta quies magni ducis,
Dona ferens novae lucis,
Hodie recolitur.

Caris datur piae menti,
Corde sonet in ardenti,
Quidquid foris promitur.

Hunc per callem orientis
Admiremur ascendentis
Patriarchae speciem.

Amplum semen magnae prolis
Illum fecit instar solis
Abrahae persimilem.

Corvum cernis ministrantem,
Hinc Eliam latitantem
Specu nosce parvulo.

Elisaeus dignoscatur,
Cum securis revocatur
De torrentis alveo.

Illum Joseph candor morum,
Illum Jacob futurorum
Mens effecit conscia.

Ipse memor suae gentis,
Nos perducat in manentis.
Semper Christi gaudia.

Englished by Edward Caswall:

Welcome the glad returning morn!
In hues of golden glory born!
Which saw, divinely blest,

Our chieftain in the sacred fight,
Mounting the pearly stairs of light,
To his eternal rest.

See the glad Vision's bright array
Ascending on its orient way; -
See there the Patriarch shine!

A second Abraham on high,
Amidst his glorious progeny
Seated in bliss divine!

Blest hermit! in his rocky cell,
As to Elias erst befell
By the wild raven fed!

Whose voice the sunken axe obey'd,
Rising, as when Eliseus pray'd,
Up from the torrent's bed!

With hoary Jacob's eagle eye
Piercing the far futurity;
With Joseph heavenly pure;

May he to us, his sons below,
The path of joys immortal show,
And guide us there secure!

23 February 2012


Johann Conrad von Gemmingen reigned as the Prince-Bishop of Eichstaett from 1593 to 1612. He worked to improve the churches in his see, embellished the cathedral and rebuilt the Willibaldsburg, his family palace. His greatest joy was the cultivation of a great garden, the finest in Europe outside Italy, in which he attempted to collect a specimen of every known plant in the world, importing exotic flora from mission territories worldwide. The garden was to be a recreation of Eden on Earth, a sanctuary of the unfallen world in a Europe wracked by the wars of Reformation.

The Hortus Eystettensis, a monumental florilegium illustrating the plants, was commissioned by the Prince-Bishop. Basilius Besler, an apothecary, oversaw its production, publishing the first edition in 1613.

22 February 2012


From a homily by Aelfric the Grammarian:
On the Wednesday, throughout the whole world, the priests bless, even as it is appointed, clean ashes in church, and afterward lay them upon men's heads, that they may have in mind that they came from earth, and shall again return to dust, even as the Almighty God spake to Adam, after he had sinned against God's command: In toil thou shalt live, and in sweat thou shalt eat thy loaf on earth, until thou return again to the same earth from which thou earnest, because thou art dust, and shalt to dust return.

This is not said of men's souls, but of men's bodies that moulder to dust, and afterwards shall at doomsday, through our Lord's might, all arise from the earth, that were ever alive, like as all trees are always quickened in the Lenten time, which before had been deadened by the winter's chill.

We read in the books, both in the Old Law and in the New, that the men who repented of their sins bestrewed themselves with ashes, and clothed their bodies with sackcloth. Now let us do this little in the beginning of our Lent, that we strew ashes upon our heads, to signify that we ought to repent of our sins during our Lenten fast.

There was a certain foolish man with bishop Aelfstan in Wiltshire, in his household: this man would not go to the ashes on the Wednesday, as other men did, who attended at Mass; then his companions begged that he would go to the Mass-priest, and receive the sacred mysteries which they had received. He said, I will not. They still prayed him. He said that he would not, and spake strangely in his talk, and said that he would use his wife at the forbidden time. Then they left him so. It befell that the heretic was riding in that week about some errand, when hounds attacked him very fiercely, and he defended himself until his spear-shaft stood up before him, and the horse carried him forward so that the spear went right through him, and he fell dying. He was then buried, and there lay upon him many loads of earth within seven nights, because he had refused those few ashes.

In that same week came a certain buffoon to the bishop's household, who heeded no Lenten fast, but went to the kitchen, while the bishop was saying Mass, and began to eat; then fell he, at the first morsel, backward in a swoon, and spat blood, but his life, nevertheless, was with difficulty preserved.

Likewise Athelwold, the holy bishop, who now worketh miracles through God, often told us, that he knew a man with bishop Aelfheah, who would drink in Lent whenever it pleased him. Then one day he prayed the bishop Aelfheah to bless his cup; he would not, and the fool drank without blessing, and went out. They were baiting a boar by chance outside, and the boar ran against him and thrust him so that he gave up his life; and so paid for the untimely draught.

Every man who eateth or drinketh untimely in the holy Lent, or on appointed fast-days, let him know in sooth that his soul shall sorely abye it, though the body may here live sound.

21 February 2012


Master calligrapher Gregorius Bock of Ochsenhausen made his Pattern Book for Scribes around 1515. The manuscript is now in Yale's Beinecke Library, and all of its pages can be seen by going to the Digital Images Online database and typing ms. 439 into the search box.

Two sample alphabets from the book are displayed below. The second, more elaborate alphabet has grotesque faces in the intricate patterning, and its last few letters were never finished. Click on each picture to see a larger image at the source page.

20 February 2012


The Geisslerlieder, or flagellant songs, were sung by the wandering companies of flagellants who overspread Europe in the 13th century and again in 1349, during the Black Death.

The first period of the flagellant activity began in northern Italy, where the plague of 1259 and long-continued political turmoil, warfare, famine and moral decay created a fever of desperation and apocalyptic expectation. This was manifested in great penitential processions, in which men, women and children of all ages and ranks marched from city to city, whipping themselves and singing penitential songs. The words of many of these songs were recorded, but little music has survived.

The Black Death, earthquakes and clerical scandals brought about a return of the movement in 1349. It spread throughout Europe, reaching Poland, Denmark and England. Hugo Spechtshart of Reutlingen, a priest and musician, was impressed by what he witnessed, and transcribed the Geisslerlieder that he heard; his work is one of the earliest examples of a folk-song collection: the Chronicon Hugonis sacerdotis de Rutelinga.

In 1900, Paul Runge, a German scholar, published a study of Hugo's chronicle. The pages below are taken from Professor Runge's book, which can be downloaded in its entirety here.

[Runge, Paul. Die Lieder und Melodien der Geissler des Jahres 1349 nach der Aufzeichnung Hugo's von Reutlingen, Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1900]

19 February 2012


The Bašcanska Ploca is a stone tablet containing early writing in Croatian, using the Glagolitic Alphabet. It was found in the pavement of the Church of St. Lucy in Jurandvor near Baška on the island of Krk, in 1851. It records a donation of land to a Benedictine abbey some time around A.D. 1100:
I, in the name of Father and Son and the Holy Ghost, I, abbot Drzhiha, wrote this about the plot of land which was given by Zvonimir, the Croatian King, in his days to St. Lucy. And the witnesses: Desimir, Prefect of Krbava, Martin in Lika; Pribinezha, clerk in Vinodol; Jacob on the island. If anyone deny it, let him be cursed by 12 Apostles and 4 Evangelists and St. Lucy. Let anyone who lives here pray God for them. I, abbot Dobrovit, built this church with my nine brethren at the time of Prince Kosmat who ruled the whole Country. In those days Mikula was in Otochac with St. Lucy together.

17 February 2012


Photographs of the altars in San Jose de Gracia mission church in Las Trampas, NM. The original painter of the altars was Pedro Fresquis, a renowned saint painter of the 18th century. Jose de Gracia Gonzales repainted them in 1864. 

16 February 2012


Edward J. Wood:
In course of time the water-clocks became less simple in their construction, and by the addition of some mechanism they were made to perform many marvellous things. In the year 807 ... Harun al-Rashid, sent, by two monks of Jerusalem, to the Emperor Charlemagne a time-piece, which presented the first rudiments of a striking-clock. According to Abbot Eginhart, who was an eye-witness of it, twelve figures of horsemen when the twelve hours were completed issued out of twelve windows in this horologe, which until then stood open, and returning again shut the windows after them as they marched back. This appears to have been only a water-clock, curiously constructed of brass. The hours were noted by the sounding of a cymbal, and the striking of the hours was managed by the fall of twelve brass balls on a bell or bells placed beneath them. It is recorded that this clock had many other curious mechanisms, and was regarded as a great novelty in Europe.

Fabyan relates, on the authority of Gaguin, that among the presents sent in 807 to Charlemagne ... was an horologe of a clocke of laten of a wonder artyfycyall makyng, that at euery oure of the daye and nyghte, when the sayd clocke shuld stryke, images on horse backe apperyd out of sondry places, and aftir departid agayn by meane of certayne vyces. Record, writing in 960, says this instrument was a clepsydra. To such a device Horman seems to allude when he says, Some for a tryfull pley the deuyll in the orlege; aliqui in nugis tragedias agunt.

Gifford, in his History of France, thus describes Charlemagne's clock: But what particularly attracted the attention of the curious, was a clock worked by water. The dial was composed of twelve small doors, which represented the division of the hours; each door opened at the hour it was intended to represent, and out of it came the same number of little balls, which fell one by one, at equal distances of time, on a brass drum. It might be told by the eye what hour it was by the number of doors that were open; and by the ear, by the number of balls that fell. When it was twelve o'clock, twelve horsemen in miniature issued forth at the same time, and marching round the dial, shut all the doors.

14 February 2012


His life, according to the Golden Legend of James of Voragine, as Englished by William Caxton.


Princeton University Library:
James Cox was a noted clockmaker, and developed this ingenious timepiece in the 1760’s in collaboration with John Joseph Merlin (with whom Cox also worked on developing automata). Cox believed that his design was a true perpetual motion machine, but in fact it was powered from changes in atmospheric pressure via a mercury barometer. This provided sufficient movement of the winding mechanism to keep the mainspring coiled inside the barrel. The clock was designed to enable the timepiece to run indefinitely and over-winding was prevented by a safety mechanism.

Newer | Latest | Older

This is a not-for-profit web log, with an educational purpose. The quotations that appear in its entries I presume to be fairly used under current copyright law. To my knowledge, the pictures displayed here are either faithful reproductions of two-dimensional works of art in the public domain, or have been authorized for display via a Creative Commons or similar license. I am making an ongoing effort to properly credit all of the quotations and images that appear on this web log.

If you are the owner of the rights to any quotation or image that appears here and you object to its presence, or the manner in which it is presented, please e-mail me at danmitsui [at] hotmail [dot] com and I will remove or amend the post.