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Title: Gradual


Initial G with St. Mary Magdalene

This manuscript has been dated to ca. 1425.

This historiated initial G begins the Introit for the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (July 22), “Gaudeamus omnes in Domino diem festum celebrantes sub honore Mariae Magdalene…” (Let us all rejoice in the Lord celebrating the feast in honor of Mary Magdalene). According to The Golden Legend, Mary retired to the wilderness after the ascension of Christ, and each day was borne aloft by angels at the seven canonical hours so that she could hear the heavenly hosts. The angels appear in this historiated initial, as does the foliage of the wilderness. The long hair pictured here can be attributed to its status as part of her iconography: Mary washes Jesus’ feet with her tears in penitence and dries them with her long hair.  There is also a legend of eleventh-century origin that Mary’s hair miraculously grows to cover her nakedness when she goes into the desert as a penitent.

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