Sunday AfterWords: The Illuminated Page

During these final days of Advent, I continue to make a part of my prayer the collection of icons at the Chrysler Museum. Today I spent time pondering the Mother of God and her relationship to the mystery of the Nativity.

Ivory from the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Virginia.

Ivory from the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Virginia.

After all Mary is an important dimension of our Advent spirituality. In fact the Proper appointed for this Sunday Mass and the Gospel of the Visitation point to the Virgin Mother.

Skies let the just one come forth like the dew, let him descend from the clouds like the rain. The earth will open up and give birth to our Savior.

The Chrysler museum has a beautiful manuscript illumination of the Liturgy of the hours.

Liturgy of the Hours, manuscript in the Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia

Liturgy of the Hours, manuscript in the Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia

In the museum of the San Marco monastery in Florence are beautiful manuscripts. These manuscript illuminations radiate the beauty of the Annunciation as well as the coming solemnities of the Nativity and Epiphany.

Manuscripts-043310

I spent some time caught up in the beauty of the illuminated pages. Just as icons radiate a light from within so too for me the illuminated page manifests an interior radiance that reminds me of the “O” Antiphon:

Radiant dawn splendor of eternal light, Sun of Justice,
Come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.

This is a fascinating short video from the Getty Museum on how illuminated manuscripts are made.

Finally, here is a lovely medieval setting of the Ave Maria. This chant can move our hearts to honor the Virgin Mother of God who gave birth to the Savior of the race.