December has arrived! The last month of the year and the last installment of the Roman months series we started last Ianuarius. Through the year we have been following the art from the Tres Riches of Jean Duke de Berry, with special attention to the calendar scenes which accompany the feast days through the liturgical year.
This fascinating Book of Hours is a wonderful timepiece into the culture and spirit of the Middle Ages. Many more beautiful scenes from Biblical stories fill the rest of this religious book which are certainly worth a look at for those interested. The art work is the result of a combination of artists starting with the Limbourg brothers and being completed by Jean Columbe in the 15th century.
This month our scene shows a hunting party which has taken down a wild boar. The trees are all brown and bare letting us know that winter is right around the corner. The structures in the background are the Château de Vincennes. Built in the 14th century the castle was originally a royal hunting lodge, which apparently was still used in this fashion during the time of the Duke of Berry. The castle still stands today but several of the towers that are seen in this picture are gone. The castle has through the ages served as a prison, a library, a residence and even as temporary storage for the relics of the Crown of Thorns.
The Month of December was originally the 10th month of the year and it’s name comes from the Latin word decem, (10). It was and still is the last month of the year, but originally it’s end didn’t start the new year. Rather there was a monthless period of winter which was later filled in with the addition of January and February.
December is a month which prepares for the Christ Mass on the 25th, and while the holiday is often crowded and over run by the modern hum drum of commercialism and the very sad pessimism which burns at the heart of modernity, it is my hope that we can all find the time to feel the stillness and silence and peace which this season is all about. It goes with the theme of this site, minima maxima sunt : the small things are the great things; and is at the heart of the Catholic faith as it proclaims the Birth of a Child who is the incarnation of the Most High God.
The feasts on the General Roman Calendar celebrated during the month of December are:
2. First Sunday of Advent, Sunday
3. Francis Xavier, Memorial
6. Nicholas, Opt. Mem.
7. Ambrose, Memorial
8. Immaculate Conception, Solemnity
9. Second Sunday of Advent, Sunday
11. Damasus I, Opt. Mem.
12. Our Lady of Guadalupe (USA), Feast
13. Lucy, Memorial
14. John of the Cross, Memorial
16. Irenaeus, Gaudete Sunday
21. Peter Canisius, Opt. Mem.
23. Fourth Sunday of Advent, Sunday
24. Christmas Eve, Sunday
25. Christmas, Solemnity
26. Stephen, Feast
27. John, Feast
28. Holy Innocents, Feast
29. Thomas Becket, Opt. Mem.
30. Holy Family, Feast
31. Sylvester I, Opt. Mem.