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Image © Hildesheim, St Godehard
Psalm: 105
Iconography: The initial, unlike all the others, is painted on a separate piece of parchment, pasted in over a totally blank space, by an artist who does not work elsewhere in the psalter. The tag, an hexameter and unlike all the other titles, is not extracted from the psalm itself. Spare your monks I beseech you, o merciful kindness of Jesus. Christ stands in the blue heavenly part of the initial reaching out to touch a nun, presumably Christina. She, and four monks, stand in the green terrestrial zone, but through her intercession she is able to reach Christ himself. One monk rests his hand on her shoulder and reaches towards Christ with a similar gesture to Christina. The delicate tenderness of this composition is echoed more stridently, with the same message, in the Harrowing of Hell (p49). Here Christ reaches out to grasp Adam's outstretched right hand while his left arm is bent at the elbow. Behind him, Eve touches his bending arm and reaches forwards with her other hand, like the monk behind Christina. In each case, extra figures crowd behind the main characters,begging for deliverance.
Art: Compared to the robust and energetic style of Artist 1, this image is drawn and painted with a nervous sensitivity. The nose profiles have a characteristic kink at the bridge and are turned up at the tip. The facial shading is delicate and subtle. Instead of the jaunty striped costumes, these clothes fall in softer folds and shimmer with delicate white highlights.The patch makes an almost seamless join with the page. To achieve this, the edges of the patch have been tapered and rubbed down. The page parchment immediately adjacent to the patch is scraped very thin ( a detail visible with backlight). This scraping and polishing resulted in the letters iustitiam in omne below the picture becoming abraded, and they have been lightly re-inked. Unlike all the other tags, this one is written on ruled lines. The initial was painted and dried outside the psalter but the tag, by scribe 1, was only added after the picture was glued in. The mordant green ink of parce, quaeso and clementia has seeped through two layers of parchment onto p286, while Christina's green robe and background have not.It is useful to compare the seepage of wet paint on p289, and the seepage of green ink for instance on p148.
Thread stitch:
Historical Relevance: This illustration can be interpreted on four levels.Keeping resolutely neutral, it shows a woman leading some monks to Christ (Haney, 2002,572). However, given the historical context, it is likely that she is Christina. She may be simply interceding for the monks of St Albans, as indicated by the rubric. After her first meeting with Geoffrey, 'all he asked for was her intercession with God' (Talbot, 1998, 139). She was considered an intercessor on a par with St Alban himself. 'As our blessed patron St Alban had her from the Lord as co-operator in building up and furthering his community on earth, so he had her afterwards as sharer of his eternal bliss in heaven ' (Talbot, 1998,127). Or, she is introducing several monks to the monastic life: 'there were in our community certain souls whom she cherished more than those of other monasteries, some of whom owed their monastic vocation to her'. (Talbot, 1998, 127). Or lastly, it is more personal. Geoffrey is using her as a bridge to Christ. He prayed to Christina and she prayed to Christ (GA 1, 104). In a vision Geoffrey 'gave her a sign with his eyes and head, he humbly begged her to introduce him to the persons standing at her side in the divine presence' (Talbot, 1998, 157)
Quire: 16


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