minima maxima sunt

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

Archive for the tag “Roman Months”


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


August from the Très riches heures du duc de Berry

August was originally the sixth month of the year and it’s Roman name was Sextilis. It became the eighth month when January and February were added around 700 BC and its name was changed to Augustus in 8 BC by Julius Caesar.

Augustus was the first Emperor and founder of the Roman Empire, but he was never referred to as Emperor, choosing the term Princeps Civitasor “First Citizen”. It was during the reign of Augustus that the “Roman Peace” began and is during this time that the Incarnation occurs with the Nativity of Christ which is figured to be anywhere from 4 BC to 9 AD.

Château d’Etampes today

Our picture from the Duke of Berry’s famous Book of Hours, shows a classic summer scene with a Middle Age twist. The Château d’Etampes takes the scene in the background, rising into a blue summer sky, in the foreground a company of travellers or possibly a hunting party? Leading the company is a Falconer. And in the center, between all this we see a group of people enjoying a nice swim in the cool waters of a lake. This is interesting, to me, because it is another proof against one of those “myths” about the middle ages which claims that people who lived then didn’t take baths and therefore smelled bad.

The feasts on the General Roman Calendar celebrated during the month of August are:
1. Alphonsus Liguori, Memorial
2. Eusebius of Vercelli; Peter Julian Eymard, Opt. Mem.
4. John Vianney, Memorial
5. Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
6. Transfiguration, Feast
7. Sixtus II and companions; Cajetan, Opt. Mem.
8. Dominic, Memorial
9. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Opt. Mem.
10. Lawrence, Feast
11. Clare, Memorial
12. Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
13. Pontian and Hippolytus, Opt. Mem.
14. Maximilian Kolbe, Memorial
15. Assumption, Solemnity
16. Stephen of Hungary, Opt. Mem.
19. Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
20. Bernard, Memorial
21. Pius X, Sunday
22. Queenship of Mary, Memorial
23. Rose of Lima, Opt. Mem.
24. Bartholomew, Feast
25. Louis of France; Joseph Calasanz, Opt. Mem.
26. Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
27. Monica, Memorial
28. Augustine, Memorial
29. Martyrdom of John the Baptist, Memorial


June from The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

June has come and summer arrives. The Sixth month of the year lends to us the longest days in the northern hemisphere. It is the month of Midsummer’s Eve, which is the summer solstice. I remember June in the northeast as a child, hot and muggy, but cooler in the evening. School was ending and summer break beginning. The dusk would be filled with fireflies so that a Midsummer’s Dream seemed a real place. To this day, fireflies bring out the kid in me, reminding me of the wonder of summer vacation beginning.

June is the last month in the Old Roman calendar to have a non-numeric name; however later reforms to the calendar would add July and August re-naming the first two numeric months of Quintilis and Sextilis. June is thought to be named after either the Roman goddess Juno, or that it follows an alternate etymology for May (maiores “elders”) which is iuniores “juniors or young ones”.

The Sainte Chapelle

The scene from the Très Riches for June shows people working the field and in the background the Palais de la Cité and the Sainte Chapelle. The Sainte Chapelle (Holy Chapel) was consecrated in 1248 and was commissioned by Louis IX of France to house relics from the Passion, one of which was the Crown of Thorns. An interesting note on this is that Jean, Duc de Berry, is said to have recieved several of the thorns from the crown from Charles V and VI.

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

1. Justin, Memorial
2. Marcellinus and Peter, Opt. Mem.
3. Trinity Sunday, Solemnity
5. Boniface, Memorial
6. Norbert, Opt. Mem.
9. Ephrem, Opt. Mem.
10. Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Solemnity
11. Barnabas, Memorial
13. Anthony of Padua, Memorial
15. Sacred Heart of Jesus, Solemnity
16. Immaculate Heart of Mary, Memorial
17. Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
19. Romuald, Opt. Mem.
21. Aloysius Gonzaga, Memorial
22. Paulinus of Nola; John Fisher and Thomas More, Opt. Mem.
24. Nativity of John the Baptist, Solemnity
26. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, Opt. Mem.
27. Cyril of Alexandria, Opt. Mem.
28. Irenaeus, Memorial
29. Peter and Paul, Solemnity
30. First Martyrs of the Church of Rome, Opt. Mem.


Les Tres Riches Heures Du Duc de Berry - February

The second month of the year we know as February. Along with January it is the other month that was not a part of the original Roman calendar which consisted of only 10 months. February is also the shortest month of the year and was so even when it was added to the calendar, however at that time seven other months in the Roman Calender held less than 30 days; Jan, Apr, Jun, Aug (Sextilis) Sep, Nov and Dec, all contained 29 days. There were also times when the day count for February was reduced even more, in some cases leaving only 23 days. This was to allow a filler month called Intercalaris to re-align the seasons. This was eventually abandoned and the use of a leap year helped to keep the calendar on track.

February is notably a month of festivity. The Latin februum held an idea of purity or sanctification, being related to the Roman ritual of purification called Februa which was held around the Ides of February (13th) . During the middle ages, as the church prepared for Lent, celebrations were held to have a little fun before the season of fasting. This became known as Carnival and inspired several traditions one of which is Mardi Gras, which is French for Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins.

The picture above is another scene from the Tres Riches: Book of Hours. Like the picture from January, it presents a scene for the month in the middle ages. It is the only month in this book of hours that shows snow. There are some very interesting contrasts in this picture which may have something to do with contradicting traditions of the month; which are celebration and fasting. The sheep are all under the covering of shelter while the wild birds outside are eating. People outside are working and/or playing. Grey skies in the distance, and bare winter trees certainly give the feel of a midwinter month. The Lady in the house on the left has her dress pulled up to her knees while the men are partially exposed, probably trying to dry their leggings and warm up from the winter cold.

Feasts during January from the General Roman Calendar are:

2. Presentation of the Lord, Feast
3. Blaise; Ansgar, Opt. Mem.
5. Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
6. Paul Miki and Companions, Memorial
8. Jerome Emiliani; Josephine Bakhita, Opt. Mem.
10. Scholastica, Memorial
11. Our Lady of Lourdes, Opt. Mem.
12. Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
14. Cyril and Methodius, Memorial
17. Seven Founders of the Orders of Servites, Opt. Mem.
19. Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday
21. Peter Damian; Fat Tuesday, Opt. Mem.
22. Ash Wednesday
23. Polycarp of Smyrna, Memorial
26. First Sunday of Lent, Sunday

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