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A Glimpse into Private Piety: Getting to Know LC’s Book of Hours

Date: 1:30pm - 4:00pm PDT May 5, 2016 Location: Watzek Library

  • King David with Harp introducing the Penitential Psalms
    Book of Hours, French c.a. 1500

Watzek Library

The Book of Hours is a set of daily devotions dedicated to the Virgin Mary and her Son. Commonly referred to as the medieval bestseller, Books of Hours were owned by nearly all ranks of late medieval society, from cleric to laywoman, aristocrats to artisans; as such there is wide variety in how Books might be customized with special illuminations, personalized devotions, and indulgenced images. Lewis & Clark’s recently acquired Book of Hours is an especially striking example from early sixteenth-century France. An illuminated manuscript created during the early days of the printing press, our Book of Hours shares features of design with both traditional handwritten Books and the new, fashionable printed Horae.


Aided by the unflagging support of Associate Head of Special Collections and Archives Zach Selley, Prof. Karen Gross’s ENG 281 students applied their newly acquired codicology and palaeography skills to our Book of Hours, commencing research that will be ongoing for the next several years into our manuscript’s origins, use, and provenance. Discover what they have learned so far in a poster and cake session in the Watzek atrium.

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