The Holy Week in Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts

Incredulity - Holy Week

It has been a busy Easter here at Sexy Codicology. You have certainly seen our posts on our Facebook page (almost 4’000 Likes! Wohoo!), we also wanted to create a short video with miniatures from various books of hours representing the death and resurrection of Christ but, alas, time was to short and we didn’t manage. Nonetheless, we saw fantastic illuminated manuscripts this week, especially from the Getty Museum’s website (we reviewed it here). So, as a late Easter present, we have made a selection of the most beautiful scenes from the Getty Museum’s digitized medieval manuscripts. All the images in this post are from the Devotional Books collection and cover most of the events celebrated during the Holy Week. As you may notice, most of the miniatures below come from Book of Hours from the 15th / 16th century. I truly recommend looking at Ms. Ludwig IX 19. The miniatures in this manuscript are particularly evocative and present all the events that are narrated in the Bible.

Miniatures of the Holy Week

The Holy Week and Easter Sunday: A Summary

The Holy Week (in Latin: Hebdomas Sancta or Hebdomas Maior, “Greater Week”)is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter for Christians. And is usually associated with it is the religious holiday of Friday of Sorrows. The week itself includes:

  • Palm Sunday
  • Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday)
  • Good Friday
  • Holy Saturday

It does not include Easter Sunday. Easter celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred three days after his crucifixion by Romans at Calvary.[1]

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Giulio Menna
Giulio is an MA graduate in Book and Digital Media Studies from Leiden University, the Netherlands. He is also system librarian at Leiden University Library. Founder and developer of Sexy Codicology and the DMMmaps Project; lover of medieval manuscripts and of all things digital.