Piety Preserved

Saint Jerome depicted in a manuscript. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

Through March 2, 2014
The Getty Center
Los Angeles, California

Many manuscripts—literally, documents written by hand—from medieval Europe were supplemented with decorations that ranged from ornate initials and borders to illuminations that dominated the page. For a largely illiterate population, these illustrations often conveyed the essential meaning of the text more successfully than the words.

The lives of Christian saints—their martyrdom and miracles—were frequently the subject of these illustrations. Miracles and Martyrs: Saints in the Middle Ages at the Getty Center features an extraordinary collection of illuminated manuscripts portraying saints from the J. Paul Getty Museum’s permanent collection. Just as medieval viewers would have learned about the saints’ piety and faithfulness by studying these illustrations, drawing inspiration and comfort from them, the manuscripts continue to spread the legends of the saints to their modern audience.

One manuscript portrays Saint Catherine serenely touching a spiked breaking wheel, an instrument of torture. According to legend, at her touch, this torture device intended for her was miraculously destroyed, but she was later beheaded.

Another manuscript portrays Saint Jerome removing a thorn from the paw of a lion, using golden tweezers (above).

The exhibition is presented in two parts. After the first installation, which ran from September 3 to December 3, 2013, the pages of the manuscripts on display were turned to reveal other illuminations.

Posted in Bible Versions and Translations, Exhibits/Events.

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  • Robert says

    When I read the King James Version I had to keep an open mind and read between the lines and to extrapolate the word used.
    So not to take what is written too literately and then put it in stone.
    For example,Genesis versus Darwins theory of evolution,
    Which one is correct?
    They both are!
    When the universe was willed to existence from a thought of what was “on the first day,let light come forever, and the earth had not even been formed yet , so then “how long was the first day ” which could have been eons long.
    So now that the universe could not have been made in 6 / 24hr days!!!

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