Ms Typ 120


Ms. Typ 120, four of six leaves known to be extant, Missal, use of Noyon, Noyon, ca. 1240-1250

These leaves cut from the Noyon Missal, an unusually large Mass book made for the cathedral of the city for which it is named, together constitute one of the masterpieces of thirteenth-century French Gothic painting. Refined in style, they are also unusual in their iconography. The first leaf, which would originally have followed the calendar and opened the Temporale ("Ad te levavi animam meam," the incipit for the first Sunday in Advent, i.e., the beginning of the liturgical calendar), shows the presumed author of the Gregorian chant that fills the notated Missal's pages, Pope Gregory himself, stooped over his writing desk, inspired by the dove of the Holy Spirit. The second folio, from the liturgy for the Mass of the patron saint of the cathedral, St. Eligius, shows the Merovingian goldsmith in his workshop, an anticipation of later medieval panel paintings with the same subject matter. The third folio illustrates the Canon (the prayer of consecration said at every Mass and usually the most elaborately decorated portion of an illuminated Missal). In addition to a large ornamental initial for the Preface, a second historiated initial shows the paired figures of Ecclesia and Synagoga flanking the Agnus dei, the Lamb of God. Synagogue, representing the Jews, is blindfolded, unable to see the "truth" of Christian revelation. Ecclesia captures the blood of the sacrificial lamb in her chalice, both mirroring and modeling the activity of the priest at the altar. The fourth initial, for Easter, depicts the Resurrection. An athletic Christ clambers out of the tomb in a striding pose associated with his Resurrection and Ascension since Late Antiquity. The tomb doubles as an altar, supported by a column, underscoring the liturgical nature of Christ's sacrifice and linking the performance of Easter Mass to the miracle of the resurrection. The symbols of the four Evangelists in the four corners of the initial are more often linked to images of Christ in Majesty. Here they underscore Christ's identity with the Word and his triumph over death.