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Page 315 Commentary

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Image © Hildesheim, St Godehard

Image © Hildesheim, St Godehard

Image © Hildesheim, St Godehard
Psalm: 118:25 & 118:33
Iconography: 118:25

Christ looks out of heaven, blessing the psalmist. The psalmist holds the book with the caption My soul has slumbered through weariness and points to the sleeping soul.


Christ looks out, blessing the psalmist. The psalmist holds up the book with the caption Turn away my eyes [that they may not behold vanities]. He points to the vanities illustrated below. On the left a man looks at the hawk on his wrist and carries a fancy stole (a type used to depict Pomp in an Anglo-Saxon Psychomachia, BL Add. MS 24199, f21v. AP, 251)). St Ambrose's commentary on the psalm warns readers to avert their eyes from secular pomp and avoid looking at a woman to desire her (Ambrose, V, 97,para 28, 29; 98, para 30). Facing him, a woman holds a flowering branch and apple(?) in her hand. While the man looks at his temptations with appreciation, the woman's eye expresses horror and disdain. The next man offers the woman a gold coin and grasps her hand. She leans back, trying to withdraw, raising her other hand in blessing. The man tempts with avarice and lust, the vanities specified in St Augustine's commentary (Augustine, pp1698-9, 1700, 1703). St Ambrose recommends that readers should, instead, turn their eyes to earth and sea which are God's works (Ambrose, V, 98, para 98).These are represented by the trees and water beyond them.The colour of the three trees, green, white and red derives from the Legend of the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve take a branch from the tree of life when they leave Paradise. Eve plants the branch which grows into a white tree. It turns green when Adam and Eve consummate their relationship and turns red when Cain slays Abel beneath it. The trees, which eventually become the wood for the crucifix, represent redemption following the Fall (Matarasso, 1969, 224-229).

Thread stitch: no veil for this giant picture: the stitch holes apply to the smaller initial on p316
Historical Relevance: 118:33

The particular sins selected are not dependent on the psalm but have been chosen from the commentaries of Augustine and Ambrose. They may have some application to Christina. Before running away from home she dressed in silk dresses and luxurious furs which she eventually replaced with a rough habit (Talbot, 1998, 93). Bishop Ranulf Flambard a slave to lust had attempted to buy Christina's favours with rich gifts. From London he brought her silken garments and rich ornaments…but she looked on them as dirt and despised them ( Talbot, 1998, 45). In a vision she was able to withstand the humiliations of her family and demands of her husband by clutching a little branch of flowers given to her by the Virgin Mary (Talbot, 1998, 77). Christina herself was sorely afflicted by lust for the certain cleric (Talbot, 1998, 115-117) but resisted.
Quire: 18


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