Wednesday, October 02, 2019

The Feast of the Guardian Angels 2019

Oraison a son bon ange Angele, qui meus es custos, pietate superna me tibi commissam serva, defende, guberna. (A prayer to her good angel Angel, who art my guardian, preserve, defend and guide me, who am entrusted to thee by God’s love.)
Versus Gloriosus apparuisti in conspectu Dei. (Glorious did thou appear in God’s sight.)
Responsorum Propterea decorem induit te Dominus (Therefore the Lord hath clothed thee in beauty.)
Oremus Oratio Deus, qui michi indigne famule tue Angelum tuum custodem dare voluisti: concede propitius eius suffragio omnes adversarios meos superare, ut ad te tramite recto valeam pervenire. Per Christum, Dóminum nostrum. Amen. (God, who willed to give me, Thy unworthy handmaid, Thy angel as my guardian; mercifully grant that by his prayer I may overcome all my adversaries, that I may be able to come to Thee by the straight path. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

The two images above are taken from the Grandes Heures d’Anne de Bretagne (The Great Hours of Anne of Brittany), made by Jean Bourdichon, 1503-8, for Anne, Duchess of Brittany and Queen of France (1477-1514), and considered to be one of the finest illuminated Books of Hours ever made. These two leaves (165v and 166r) come from section known as the Suffrages, a series of commemorations of the Saints, each consisting of an antiphon from that Saint’s Office, a versicle and respond, and the prayer. The antiphon in this case is an earlier form of the well-known prayer to one’s Guardian Angel, which was later filled out to rhyme in both Latin and English.“Angele Dei, qui custos es mei, me tibi commissum pietate superna, hodie illumina, custodi, rege, et guberna. Amen. – Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to guard, enlighten, rule and guide.”

The Great Hours of Anne of Brittany can be seen in full on the website of the Bibliothèque National de France. In addition to the liturgical texts and the very large number of sacred illustrations of the highest quality, they are also remarkable for the decorative borders; these show a great variety of plants and flowers, and small animals of every kind, all labelled in Latin, and painted with a truly impressive degree of realism.

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