Hand Illuminated Altar Cards of the 19th Century

In the past we have shown some contemporary approaches to hand-illuminated altar cards, but today we are going to focus on an antique approach to the same. This particular set comes by way of the Musée de la Visitation located in Moulin, France -- which, incidentally, is a veritable treasure trove of liturgical art ranging from sacred vestments to sacred silver. (Their numerous published catalogues are well worth the price, even if you do not read French.) 

This particular set of altar cards were done by a sister of the Visitation order, Sr. Joseph de Sales Gasse, in the late 19th century.  Both the text and the illuminations surrounding it are hand-done and follow a programme of Marian imagery and themes. This imagery includes various scenes taken from the life of the Blessed Virgin as well as allegorical depictions of her various titles. 

Intermixed with these depictions are also various flowers, grapes, cornucopias and other decorative elements. 

The colours of the cards are quite striking as well and also Marian in their theme, with blues, reds and golds -- all colours strongly associated with the Blessed Virgin -- being the predominant one's. 

The House of Gold -- One of the titles assigned to the Blessed Virgin Mary

These cards remind us that even in its smallest of details, the sacred liturgy has always inspired epiphanies of beauty at the service of divine worship. 

Do you like Liturgical Arts Journal's original content? You can help support LAJ in its mission and vision to promote beauty in Catholic worship either by: 

You choose the amount! Your support makes all the difference.

Join in the conversation on our Facebook page.