The Hours of Henry VIII

The Hours of Henry VIII Anthony and the Eucharistic Miracle, f. 185v

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Anthony and the Eucharistic Miracle, f. 185v

It is appropriate that Anthony of Padua (1195-1231; canonized in 1232) directly follows Francis in the Suffrages in the Hours of Henry VIII since he, after the founder of the Franciscans, is considered the order’s most important saint. Originally a canon regular of the Augustinian Order, he joined the friars in 1220 and became a friend and disciple of Francis. He had hoped for martyrdom in Africa, but poor health kept him in Italy. His abilities as a teacher, a preacher, and a worker of miracles secured his fame.

In the miniature, Poyer illustrates the saint’s most popular legend. A Jew challenged Anthony to prove the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. He would be convinced, said the Jew, if a horse (or, in other versions of the story, a mule) would pass up a meal of oats for the consecrated Host. In the miniature, the horse not only ignores his feed, but he also kneels down before the host that Anthony holds over a chalice. The Jew, identifiable at the right in his exotic gown and headgear, looks on in astonishment. In the border, Anthony is shown preaching to a rapt crowd. The saint died in Padua, where a basilica dedicated to him still enshrines his tomb and his relics -- including his tongue, instrument of his eloquence. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1946. (Feast day: June 13).

Roger S. Wieck.
Curator, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts
The Morgan Library & Museum


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