Item No: mcai310221
Additional Title: Antiphonary
Rare Book Department
Initial D with St. Helena of Constantinople holding the True Cross
This initial begins the first antiphon of Lauds for the feast of the Invention of the True Cross (May 3), "Helena sancta Constantini mater Jerosolymam petiit..." (Helen, the holy mother of Constantine, went to Jerusalem). The saint pictured here is St. Helena, the mother of the first Christian Roman emperor Constantine (d. 337). According legend, Helena discovered the cross upon which Christ was crucified, also known as the True Cross.
The style of the initial is reminiscent of Italian initial decoration, especially in the northern regions. Certain elements in the execution of the initial suggest, however, that the artist was not Italian but perhaps Spanish or Portuguese. Artists and scribes in the Iberian Peninsula were heavily influenced by the luxury choir books that came out of Italy in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. This influence can be seen in the Italianate forms common in Iberian illumination.
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Lewis E M 31:19-27