State Library of NSW

Book of Hours


15th Century prayer book


Book of HoursA Book of Hours was a prayer book for the laity. It obtained its name from the series of devotions in honour of the Virgin Mary to be made during the eight canonical hours of the day, that is, hours set aside by the Church for prayer, mainly by monastic orders: matins and lauds (daybreak), prime (6 am), terce (9 am), sext (noon), nones (3 pm), vespers (sunset) and compline (evening).

By the fifteenth century, Books of Hours were being produced in large numbers in the workshops or ateliers of major European cities. Owing to the rarity of paper, most of these books were written on the skins of animals (vellum or parchment). Many of these books were beautifully illustrated (illuminated) with painted miniatures, decorated initials and floral borders. This book includes fourteen large miniatures. It is opened at the miniature illustrating the annunciation, the Angel Gabriel’s appearance to the Virgin Mary announcing that she would be the mother of God.

The book is written in Latin with some material in French.
Display item Book of Hours


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