StoweMissalFol001r InitialPage

Stowe Missal folio 1r initial page

The Stowe Missal is a translation of the Latin and Gaelic Missal and was transcribed at Lorrha Monastery in the Ninth century. Also known as the Lorrha Missal, it is known as the 'Stowe' Missal due to its acquisition by one of the Dukes of Buckingham for his Stowe Library.

The form of the Liturgy and Services of Baptism and Unction found here reflect a true Celtic usage dating before 650 AD. Whether this is the usage brought by Saint Patrick in the early Fifth century, or a later revision is not certain, but this is a usage which was used during an era age in which Christianity was neither universal nor fully understood. Therefore, it explains in graphic detail the redemptive acts of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, his birth, death and resurrection. The writer(s) assumes that those participating in the Eucharist must have every detail repeated clearly.

Written in Latin, the Stowe Missal is a Mass-book of the early Irish Church, small enough to be carried around for the use of a priest on his travels. It may have been written in Tallaght, Co. Dublin, as the abbot of the priory, St. Mael Ruain, is commemorated in the Mass. According to the first inscription on the cumdach or shrine, it was in the monastery of St. Ruadhan in Lorrha, Co. Tipperary, c. 1050, and recent researches indicate that it may have been written there. The Missal was named Stowe because, in the 19th century, it was part of a collection of manuscripts in the library of the Duke of Buckingham at Stowe House, Buckinghamshire, England, which was sold in 1849 to the Earl of Ashburnham. In 1883 it was purchased by the British Government and deposited in the Royal Irish Academy.

The Missal consists of two separate manuscripts which were bound together for no evident reason other than that the leaves were of the same size. It is bound in boards of oak covered with uncoloured vellum and round the three outer edges there are strips of kid skins 2cm wide stained with red.

The first manuscript (11 folios) contains excerpts from the Gospel according to St. John. It was written in a cursive minuscule script by a scribe who signed himself in Ogham writing Sonid (f 11).

In common with the ‘pocket’ Gospel books and books of devotion of the 9th century, the opening page of the Gospel (f 1) has a large ornamental initial and a group of coloured initials enclosed in an ornamental border of geometrical pattern and a beast's head. It is coloured in purple, yellow and red. At the end (f 11) there is a miniature of St. John the Evangelist, which faced another miniature on the front page which is now lost. The figure of St. John is similar to the short draped figure of the standing Evangelists of the St. Gall Gospels, with an eagle hovering with expanded wings over his head and coloured in red and yellow.

The Missal proper (56 folios) is in the second manuscript and it contains the Ordinary and Canon of the Mass, the Order of Baptism and the Order of Visitation of the Sick, Extreme Unction and Communion. The series of antiphons and alleluias are similar to the series for the Communion of the Sick in the Book of Dimma.

At the end (ff 65-7) there is an Irish Tract on the Mass, three Irish spells against loss of eyesight, injury by thorns and disease of the urine, and some liturgical rubrics. The five original scribes of the Missal wrote in an angular majuscule script. A more cursive hand was used by a scribe signing himself Moél Caích (f 37) who revised it. The initial P of the opening prayer, Peccavimus Domine, in the Ordinary of the Mass is decorated and set in a border coloured in yellow and pink. Except for playful drawings of initial letters, the rest of the manuscript is not decorated.

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Stowe Missal. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.