An Illuminated Altar Missal

Unfortunately, I cannot offer a great deal of information to our readers about this manuscript, other than to tell you that it is, of course, an altar missal.  Regardless of the lack of details, it is a beautiful piece of liturgical art that is worth sharing. One can imagine this missal set upon some medieval or early Renaissance altar,  its gold leaf and painted colours illumined by sunlight and soft glow of the candles set upon the altar.

There are, of course, lessons to be found even in something so simple as this. In even its smallest details, the sacred liturgy is an echo of the heavenly and as such, no effort should be spared to reflect this reality. Beauty has the power to stir the heart; it has the power to teach. This is why the Church, in her perennial wisdom and practice, has seen fit to clothe the sacred liturgy in beauty. It is both a tool for evangelization and an echo of the heavenly liturgy itself.

The beginning of the Canon Missae -- the Canon of the Mass
The propers for the Feast of St. Ambrose
The gospel
Of course, with the advent of the printing press, these hand-illuminated, coloured missals would eventually be replaced by woodcuts and engravings, but despite that, they were still characterized by their own particular beauty.  All of these signs and symbols, in even the smallest of details, point to nothing less than the supreme importance of the liturgical life of the Church and we should expect nothing less in our own day.

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