The Garden of the Virgin Mary


The 1510 manuscript Jungfru Marie örtagård (The Garden of the Virgin Mary) is the work of an anonymous nun at the Brigittine monastery at Vadstena in eastern Götaland, Sweden, and is the sole surviving source for the Swedish psalms, collects and lessons, hymns, and commentaries used in daily office by the nuns at the monastery. From the late 14th century to about 1530, the Vadstena monastery contributed significantly to the development of a nascent Swedish cultural identity, largely through the language that developed and was taught there. Most of the nuns had little knowledge of Latin, so suitable divine literature had to be translated or originally composed in Swedish. A few of the nuns were skilled scribes who used a characteristic sloped cursive script with a broad-nibbed pen and strong perpendicular strokes. The major part of this manuscript is undecorated, but it includes finely decorated borders and initial capitals, and several richly adorned miniatures, some showing images to be venerated and others scenes of monastic life. The monastery, which initially had a section of monks as well as one of nuns, eventually fell victim to the effects of the Protestant Reformation and royal edicts and closed in the late 16th century.

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Title in Original Language

Jungfru Marie örtagård

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Physical Description

171 pages : illuminations ; 18 x 12 centimeters

Last updated: October 17, 2011