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Rare Book Room Features​

Take a peek into the unique collections of Phoenix Public Library's Rare Book Room.

Book of Hours

Among the Rare Book Room's collection of historical items is a selection of leaves from illuminated manuscripts. Here we have images of leaves from 15th and 16th century books of hours. A book of hours was a religious book containing prayers meant to be said at certain hours of the day. They were often miniature in size so that they could be easily carried around and read by the devout. These books were illuminated and lavishly decorated and would have been owned by the very wealthy.


Blessed VirginPhoto of an illuminated page from a book of hours featuring the Blessed Virgin

​This leaf shows an apparition of the Blessed Virgin to a number of people including a noblewoman dressed in a 16th century costume. Its opposing leaf contains prayers relating to this appearance of the Virgin. A brushed gold architectural frame borders the entire page.

Christ on His CrossPhoto of an illuminated page from a book of hours featuring Christ on His Cross

These two manuscript leaves contain a miniature illustration of Christ on His cross, while the Blessed Virgin and St. John adore Him. The miniature is set in a rich frame of burnished gold flowers, which, in turn is bordered by ivy leaves of gold. Eighteen beautifully illuminated initials, six line-endings, and a delicate border of flowers, fruit and gold leaves adorn the other pages.

​Illuminated Leaf from a Book of Hours for the Blessed Virgin MaryPhoto of an illuminated page from a book of hours featuring text.

Sixteen lines of text are written in a fine gothic hand on this manuscript leaf. The outer margins are decorated with a delicate ivy leaf pattern illuminated with burnished gold. Fruits and flowers lend a rich note of color amid the tiny leaves. Initials of burnished gold shine against soft blue and rose backgrounds wrought with white tracery.

Mary as Queen of HeavenPhoto of an illuminated page from a book of hours featuring Mary as Queen of Heaven

This miniature illustration of Mary as the Queen of Heaven is accompanied by its opposing leaf containing prayers. A brushed gold architectural frame borders the entire page.

St. SebastianPhoto of an illuminated page from a book of hours featuring the Blessed Virgin

This miniature illustration of St. Sebastian faces a leaf containing his memoria. Miniature and Latin text are each framed in a bar design of blue and rose, outlined in burnished gold. The borders are decorated with acanthus leaves, colorful flowers and ivy leaves of burnished gold.

To learn more about illuminated manuscripts, visit the Getty Museum's website.

For more information on making an appointment, tours and the collection, please visit the Rare Book Room page.

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