minima maxima sunt

The Small things are the Great things; as in a grain of mustard seed.

Archive for the tag “calendar”

August Thistle and Rose

August was a re-visit to the Flemish art style. Flowers with shadows make the panel art seem to pop out of the page. My first try at this was in February with Oak leaves.

So the top picture is obviously a rose surrounded by gold foil, the side panel… Are doodle flowers and I’m not sure if they could be tied to an actual type of flower in existence.

On the second page is Thistle surrounded by gold and on the side panel are Geranium. These grew wild in Alaska and I had a few of these planted in my yard when I lived there. They came back every year.

July. Ivy and Peacock Feathers

For July I looked back on January. My first attempts in my book of hours were full of trial and error. I revisited what I envisioned and here is the result. I will probably continue to re-do the first part of the year in the second half to see where I grew.

Ivy with gold leaves and a few animals. I used watercolor pencils for the peacock feathers and took a quick lesson on you tube on how to make them. Overall very happy with July and seeing my progress.

First page had a huge blunder on one date where I put the Saint on the wrong day. Blotted out to cover and shows. Will start focusing on the illuminated letters going forward. I figure that once I complete the calendar and move into other parts of the hours I will allow more room for this and have some fun.

Second page had no big blunders. Mixing the gold leaves with a few greens, red berries, a bird and a snail.

My New Project

After years of enjoying illuminated manuscripts I have decided to make one of my own. Way out of my league of course, as my writing/calligraphy is terrible, never used gold foil before and,  well, to be honest just about everything is a hack on this. I decided to do a book of hours, so a little research to get things right and to also update information. I want it to be true to the history but with a little post modern thrown in. image

Using some traditional and some new types of media. Gouache, gel pens, ink of India and a calligraphy set, imitation gold foil, a blank journal with leather binding from Hobby Lobby. Calendar dates are from the General Roman Calendar online and some help from the annotated book of hours, also online. And of course reviewing pictures of several illuminated manuscript studies and facsimiles I have.


For my first month of January there was a lot of trial and error. I actually patched over a few sections to correct mistakes and cover failed attempts at the art. The adhesive for the gold foil I laced on a bit too heavy so it looks more embossed. I had a better time doing February which I will post soon with some information on the calendars in a book of hours.


December from the Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry

December from the Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry

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 Chateau de Vinceness today.

The Chateau de Vinceness today.

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.


November from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

The eleventh month of the year in our calendar is November and like the last two months it’s name comes from Roman numbering. Novem is the Roman word for nine which gives this month it’s name because in the original Roman calender there were only 10 months, November being the 9th.

November is a month that is most associated with harvest. Winter is approaching and Autumn is fully under way, and because of this we see the idea of harvest in several of this months holidays. The feasts of All Hallows and All Souls, as well as the American holiday; Thanksgiving. It should be easy to see the relation of harvest to Thanksgiving, but a little less to for the feasts of Hallowmas. In fact, the feast was a christianised version a pagan feast called Samhain, which was a harvest celebration.

In the Liturgical year November is the last month. Advent, which prepares for the Nativity, begins four weeks before the Christ mass, and will fall between November 28th and December 3rd. Many may remember, when they were young, how lights would begin to appear, lamp posts would begin to be decorated with bells, angels, and candy canes right after Thanksgiving.

Keeping with the idea of harvest, this months scene from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry shows a beautiful Autumn scene, with pigs harvesting acorns. The Acorn Harvest, provides plenty of nuts from the oak trees which the pigs love to eat. The effect of this is to make a very delicious pork, called Mast-Finished Pork or in keeping with the traditional scene here, Acorn-Finished Pork. This ancient tradition is regaining popularity today, and the price of pork which has been Acorn or Mast (acorns, hickory nuts, other nuts) Finished, can sport a lofty price.
The feasts on the General Roman Calendar celebrated during the month of November are:

1. All Saints, Solemnity
2. All Souls, Feast
3. Martin de Porres, Opt. Mem.
4. Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
9. Lateran Basilica, Feast
10. Leo the Great, Memorial
11. Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
12. Josaphat, Memorial
13. Frances Xavier Cabrini, Memorial
15. Albert the Great, Opt. Mem.
16. Margaret of Scotland; Gertrude, Opt. Mem.
17. Elizabeth of Hungary, Memorial
18. Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
21. Presentation of Mary, Memorial
22. Cecilia, Memorial
23. Clement I; Columban; Bl. Miguel Agustín Pro (USA), Opt. Mem.
24. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions, Memorial
25. Christ the King, Solemnity
30. Andrew, Feast


September from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

September is the first month which, in English, is still spelled exactly like it was in Latin. September comes from the Latin for seven, Septem, and was the seventh month before January and February were added to the calendar, which pushed to to the ninth. In the northeast where I grew up September meant the beginning of a new school year and usually by the third week of the month signs of autumn would begin to appear. In Alaska, where I spent most of my adult life, fall was usually over by the third week of September and sign of winter would begin to appear as termination dust, the first snows, would begin to appear on mountain peaks.

The Château de Saumur

In the calendar page for September in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry we find a beautiful castle, The Château de Saumur, which still stands today. Peasants are in the fields harvesting grapes, and in the picture of the Château as it stands today you can see that vinyards are still active.

Wine making in Europe during the middle ages owes a lot to the Church. In fact it was the church’s use of wine in it’s sacramental life that helped bolster the winemaking industry in europe during these years. In Spain where there was a stronger influence of Islam, winemaking suffered. The Catholic countries all continued to make wine and, like beer making in the middle ages, the making of wine finds some of it’s greatest artisans in the monastic communities.

The feasts on the General Roman Calendar celebrated during the month of September are:

2. Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
3. Gregory the Great, Memorial
8. Birth of Mary, Feast
9. Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
12. Most Holy Name of Mary, Opt. Mem.
13. John Chrysostom, Memorial
14. Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Feast
15. Our Lady of Sorrows, Memorial
16. Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
17. Robert Bellarmine, Opt. Mem.
19. Januarius, Opt. Mem.
20. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang and Companions, Memorial
21. Matthew, Feast
23. Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
26. Cosmas and Damian, Opt. Mem.
27. Vincent de Paul, Memorial
28. Wenceslaus; Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Opt. Mem.
29. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Feast
30. Twenty-Six Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday

Jesos Konoronkwa

20120715-101217.jpgJuly 14th is the memorial of the Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. Known as the Lily of the Mohawks, Kateri is the first female Native American to be venerated in the catholic church.

Born in 1657, she was the daughter of an Algonquin mother who was a convert as well, and a Mohawk chief. At a young age small pox took most of her family, and left her with a poor eyesight and a scarred face which is often represented in her iconography. In 1676 she converted and took the baptismal name of Catherine (Kateri) in honor of St. Catherine of Seina, and in the following year joined a religious community called the Holy Family.


Kateri Tekakwitha is known for living a virtuous life, helping the sick and elderly, teaching children and taking the vow of perpetual virginity. Kateri is the patron of ecology, people in exile, loss of parents, people ridiculed for their piety and Native Americans. She is often depicted with a turtle (tribe/clan), a lily, and a rosary.

Kateri died on April 17th, in the year 1680, at the age of 24 from an illness. The last words claimed she spoke were “Jesos Konoronkwa“, which is translated: “Jesus I Love You”.

Blessed Tekakwitha will be canonized on October 21, 2012.

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