Workshop of the Boucicaut Master
Leaf from a Book of Hours:
Sts. Geneviève, Catherine of Alexandria, and Margaret, about 1415
Ink, tempera, silver, and gold on vellum
The Jeanne Miles Blackburn Collection [Cat. no. 24]
In a book of hours, the suffrages or memoriae generally appear at the end of the manuscript and consist of prayers to particular saints, often illustrated by miniatures. Saints were the protectors and patrons of medieval people, and countless owners of books of hours must have been consoled by reciting these prayers and readings that contained elements of praise and pleas for inter-cession. This miniature introduces the suffrage to St. Catherine of Alexandria, an early virgin martyr of the Christian Church cruelly killed by the Emperor Maxentius (died ad 312). The text begins: Gaude dulcis katherina virgo martr (Rejoice dear Catherine, virgin and martyr). Catherine appears with a palm branch, the symbol of martyrdom. She is flanked by Saints Geneviève and Margaret, two other virgin martyrs of the early Church.