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Discoveries in the Hargrett Hours’ Calendar

Through our research into the calendar of the Hargrett Books of Hours, we found it bears a striking similarity to the Paris Missal and other use of Paris calendars; it, however, also contains differences that make us confident it is use of Paris. The similarities between the Paris missal and the Hargrett calendar include similar saints, some exclusive to Paris, and the grading of feast days: our calendar includes not only the name of the saint, but also how many lessons to recite in the day, or if the feast is a double feast, or duplum. This type of grading is not often found in books of hours (see figure 3).

Image from the Harley missal
Figure 1: April from the Use of Paris missal, Harley MS 2891. The dedication of the chapel of Paris is written in gold (top line).

Two of the months I transcribed, August and April, provide remarkable and telling instances of matching the Paris Missal and then deviating from it. Transcription itself has been a strangely fluid process as the lists of saints, for the most part, roll into place, but I am far more interested in our text’s unique deviations as they have provided the avenues for research and the clues that allowed us to close in on the manuscript’s locality. For example, on the 25th of April, the Hargrett Hours calendar describes the “Dedicatio ecclesie capelle parisiensis,” which roughly translates to the dedication of the chapel of Paris. It is no secret that our little book has origins in that city, but, according to the manuscript details that accompany Harley MS 2891, yet another Paris Missal, this is one of many “feasts specific to the Sainte-Chapelle,” a fact that nudges us in the direction of our text’s basic provenance1. The month of August offers additional information in this vein, filling in the original missal’s blank space on the fourth of the month with two crowded lines of text that rupture the calendar’s progression and give instructions regarding the Feast of the Holy Cross, yet another defining feature of Sainte-Chapelle. And while all of this is well and good, “strange” saints like Signi (April 16, September 17) and Andoman (April 18, September 19) remain untraceable or at the very least obscured, showing up only in our text’s version of April. Perhaps some particular influence is at play, but, again, the differentiation among the sameness is what prompts us forward.

  • Sarah Landry
St. Cruces feast August
Figure 2: August from the Hargrett Hours, Hargrett Library MS 836. The instructions for celebrating the Feast of the Holy Cross cover 2.5 lines.

I am also interested in the instances when the calendar diverts from the Paris Missal, particularly the detailed information on moveable feasts, as well as the dies mali, or unlucky days. The calendar pages of January, February, and March include information at the end of the month on how to calculate moveable feasts and the leap year, but later months have this information integrated into the calendar; Sarah’s entry above describes one such instance in August (figure 2). These elaborate instructions, such as those found in January, describe what to do on days that require 3 lessons and a Mass. These instructions suggest the influence of a calendar designed for religious, as opposed to secular use: “Nota q(uod) in talib(us) dieb(us) iii. quib(us) in toto / kalendrio signatur misse non fu(er)it exposicio(-) / nes d(omini)nicales. nisi causa brevitatis temporis; Observe that in such days (as have) 3 lessons, which in the whole calendar is marked, Mass will not be declared on Sundays, unless occasion of short time (for the lessons).”2 Typical users of books of hours do not need to worry about when or how to say Mass — they just go to Mass. While it may take years to figure out what this information means, it is certainly important. The dies mali also differ from the Paris Missal and other books of hours, but are certainly not rare. Figure 3 the month of August from a different calendar; though sumptuously illustrated by the Rohan Master or a member of his circle, it includes neither the ecclesiastical information provided by the Hargrett Hours nor the dies mali.  

  • JH Roberts


August from Richardson
August calendar page from a use of Paris book of hours, MS Richardson 42. Houghton Library, Harvard University, attributed to the Rohan Master or his circle. Calendar includes no feast grading.

My portion of the calendar project was February, June, and October. These months were largely not particularly interesting, aside from the complete illegibility of June(unless that was just me being sleep deprived and not the scans being bad). However, one line in February piques my interest. On February 19th, the line reads “Adam hic peccavit,” which translates to “Adam sinned here.” I have found no mention of this phrase in any scholarly essay or ecclesiastic commentary, and this confuses me. It seems as though something as major as the fall from the Garden of Eden should be discussed, or at least mentioned. Despite this, I can only find any record of this line in other manuscripts following the Use of Paris (particularly the Paris Missal), none of which seem to contain any other comments on the line. What is the significance of the choice of February 19th? Other uses such as Sarum use do not contain this mention of Adam, so it is possible that it is somehow connected to the church in Paris specifically. Also of note is the fact that it mentions Adam’s sin, but not Eve’s. Perhaps this is connected to the feminine nature of Books of Hours, but due to the lack of information available, I cannot verify this.

-Meg Dominey

Adam sinned here
Figure 4: February from the Hargrett Hours, Hargrett Library MS 836. The text reads “Adam hic peccauit.”

For the months that I was responsible for, I focused on comparing the saints between our calendar and the Paris Missal to see which ones matched up. While there were a handful that did not show up in the Paris Missal, Saint Marthe, (better known as Martha) stood out to me. I did not come across her name or feast day in other Paris calendars, which led me to research her calendar presence and why she would be included in this particular one.  Her feast day is marked July 29th with the latin abbreviation xpi and word hospite after her name. From Introduction to Manuscript Studies (93), I found xpi stood for Christ while the word hospite takes on the meaning of a host or duties of hospitality.3 Coming from a Christian background, I was familiar with Martha’s role in the Bible and her relationship with Christ, but I did not realize the extent of her sainthood and how it was deemed important enough to be recorded as day in the calendar.  In researching her saint life, I found that she had welcomed Christ in her home “on which occasion he gently reproved her for her complaint that her sister Mary did not help her sufficiently in the necessary preparations” [4]. In this moment, Christ’s aim was to teach her not to be anxious or work her life away, but instead focus and enjoy the present. This story ties the “hospite” meaning to her name, while also providing a moral lesson for the reader. Farmer also emphasizes her association with the evangelization of Provence with her sister Mary Magdalene and Lazarus, which proved her to be a “patron of housewives and lay sisters.” 4 These two sources lead me to question if this Book of Hours was made primarily for a female audience or had female ownership. Unfortunately, the answer is not yet clear (more research to come) but I do think that the inclusion of Saint Martha in the calendar calls the reader to remember her as an example of a Christian life for both men and women.


  • Jasmine Paxton
Marthe virginis
Figure 5: July 29 from the Hargrett Hours, Hargrett Library MS 836.

Figure 1 comes from 15v of a use of Paris missal, Harley MS 2891, held at the British Library, and is available for use under public domain. Figure 2, 4, and 5 comes the Hargrett Hours, Hargrett Library MS 836,  held at the Hargrett Library at the University of Georgia, folios 8r, 2r and 7v, respectively. Figure 3 is 7r from MS Richardson 42, held at the Houghton Library of Harvard University.  Used with permission under the Harvard Library Policy on Access to Digital Reproductions of Works in the Public Domain



[1] “Harley MS 2891.” British Library. Accessed 13 November 2016.

[2]  Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia, MS 836, fol. 1v.

[3] Clemens, Raymond, and Timothy Graham. Introduction to Manuscript Studies. Ithaca, NY: Cornell U P, 2007. Print. P. 93

[4] Farmer, David Hugh. The Oxford Dictionary Of Saints. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 13 Nov. 2016. Pp. 332-333