Book of Hours of the Blessed Virgin Mary


This book of hours was written in Paris in the mid-15th century. Books of hours are devotional books for lay persons wishing to have a prayer schedule parallel to that of monastic communities, with prayers appointed for different times of the day. Such books were intended to facilitate direct communion with God and the saints, rather than exclusively through the church and the ordained clergy. Along with selections from the Psalms, they normally include a calendar of major feasts and saints’ days, selections from the Gospels, and prayers for the dead. While some famous books of hours are quite large, most are relatively small in size, to allow the owner to carry the book conveniently. This book is especially small, yet it has an abundance of decoration and illustration, with miniatures of scenes from the lives of Jesus Christ and his mother Mary: the Visitation (folio 52), the Nativity (folio 67v), the Annunciation to the Shepherds (folio 75v), the Adoration of the Magi (folio 82), and the Presentation in the Temple (folio 88). There is also a miniature of King David in prayer (folio 109). Many of the margins include drolleries with faces, animals, and other decorations, which were meant to amuse even as the reader prayed. Some of the pages were severely trimmed, probably when it was rebound in the 18th or 19th century.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Horae Beatae Virginis Mariae

Type of Item

Physical Description

212 leaves : illustrations ; 12 x 9 x 4.5 centimeters


Last updated: October 17, 2017