St AEthelthryth: Some entertaining pictures

AEthelthryth’s amusing afterlife will have to wait for next week, I think. I’m still settling into Awesome’s house, where I’m cat-sitting for a few weeks, and I was going to make a quick post with some images, inspired by the exciting discovery of a facsimile Benedictional of St AEthelwold on her bookshelf, before knuckling down to work:

St AEthelthryth, bearing a flower, which refers to Bede’s hymn in her honour, which is full of floral imagery. AEthelthryth is the only Anglo-Saxon woman in the Choir of Virgins, depicted in the opening folios of the Benedictional- she and St Swithun, I think, are the only Anglo-Saxon saints in the whole thing.
She doesn’t look too happy, really. You’d think, having got what she wanted (a habit), she’d look a little more serene. Joyful in the lord, and all that. But apparently not. Can anyone tell me who the preachy lookin’ fellow on the page opposite her is? And what he’s carrying?

My intention to do some work was defeated by the possibilities of humourous hagiographical icons. Some teasers:

Plus a few more in my LJ.


4 Responses to “St AEthelthryth: Some entertaining pictures”

  1. CyberMedievalist Says:

    Since the lettering reads “omnipotens unus et aeternus deus” and the figure appears consistent with representations of Christ (note the cruciform halo), it’s probably Jesus. He’s likely holding a book, though I’ve never been quite clear what the book is meant to be. Given the similarity of this miniature to the Byzantine iconographic convention of Christ Pantocrator (, though, I would presume the book is meant to represent the Gospels, which by extension represent Christ himself.

  2. highlyeccentric Says:

    That’s what I thought!

    *wonders how she can work this into her essay*

  3. kishnevi Says:

    I can’t figure out what the thing in his hand is–some sort of box?–but it seems to me that there’s a dove coming out of his mouth.
    It does seem to be a Christ as Pantocrator; the text around it and the dove (if it is a dove) suggest it might actually be a representation of the Trinity.
    It’s possible the halo is not really cruciform, just appears that way because of the brushwork. In which case the dove (if it is a dove) represents the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the tablet is a gospel or other book of the Bible–so you would have an evangelist or author of one of the Catholic epistles (maybe Paul, but I think the iconography would be more definite if it was Paul)

  4. The Humourous Later Life of St Aethelthryth « The Naked Philologist Says:

    […] And on with the later life of St Aethelthryth! If you recall, we left her two weeks ago, newly proffessed as a nun at Coldingham. One week ago, we looked at her image in the Benedictional of St Aethelwold. […]

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