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Collections | Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

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Trinity

Trinity and Three Angels Appearing to Abraham, in an initial B
Leaf from a Gradual (II), in Latin.
Italy, Florence, 1392–99
Illuminated by Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci for Paolo Venier, abbot of San Michele à Murano
590 x 400 mm
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; MS M.653.2
See CORSAIR catalog record for this item »

The Roman numeral LXXIIII on the recto indicates the leaf was originally folio 74 in the Gradual. The upper part of the large initial B, which begins the Introit for Trinity Sunday: Benedicta sit sancta Trinitas (Blessed be the Holy Trinity), depicts the three persons of the Trinity, all of whom look alike, behind an altar and two candelabra. The Holy Spirit has a dove over his head and the Father an armillary sphere representing the universe. The Son, in the middle, holds the wafer and chalice of the Eucharist. Above his head is an open book containing the words he spoke after the Last Supper: Ego sum via, et veritas, et vita (I am the way, the truth, and the life). In the lower part of the initial, three angels appear to Abraham, proclaiming the miraculous birth of his son Isaac, an Old Testament event that was regarded as a prefiguration of the Trinity.

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Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.