san-francisco

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The Life and Miracles of Saint Francis of Assisi


Bonaventure de Bagnoregio (circa 1217−74), the great Franciscan theologian also known as “the Seraphic Doctor,” began writing Legenda major sancti Francisci (The life and miracles of Saint Francis of Assisi) in 1260. He compiled documents and testimonies from former companions of Saint Francis who were still alive. This manuscript in small format is an anonymous translation of this work from Latin into French. The name of its recipient is unknown, but it is known that she was a private individual, most likely a lady from high society, as folio 91 verso seems to indicate. The manuscript is well written in a bold bastard script, 25 lines to a page, on 143 leaves. It is magnificently decorated with 14 large and beautifully painted miniatures (two with borders) illustrating the first part of the manuscript, covering the life of Saint Francis, and 49 miniatures in the second part, illustrating his miracles. The two large miniatures with borders show Saint Francis giving his clothes to a beggar and Saint Francis receiving the stigmata. Before him kneels the figure of the lady for whom the book was executed. A piece has been cut from the lower margin of each of the leaves, apparently removing the coat-of-arms. The illumination was done in Anjou. The work is reminiscent of the Beaussant family altar piece, which can be viewed in the treasure room of the Angers Cathedral.