In preparation for a follow-up post on the standard pictorial sequences for the books of hours, I was leafing through the aforementioned Little Hours of John de Berry (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, ms. lat. 18014). In wandering through, attempting to decipher the artwork and seeing which prayers were present and which absent, I came across this terrific miniature that I couldn’t not share immediately:
This comes from a sequence of prayers to various saints and groups of saints. This one is to all the holy martyrs and, while several of the saints pictured are holding the implements of their demise, the center figure with the strangely full halo is holding his head as blood continues to squirt from his neck!
I’ll say more about this later but I do think that the martyrs are rather seriously neglected, particularly in our proposed calendrical revision. Consider for a moment two categories, one which feels more highly favored than the other under the new scheme: “martyr” and “prophetic witness”…
Here’s the thing: looking at the above image, is there any way that you can see martyrdom as anything other than “prophetic witness”?!