Les Enluminures

Morgan MS M.1093, f. 106r

7. Office of the dead

Burial and the Struggle for the Soul

The service during the burial of the shrouded corpse in the churchyard often introduces the Office of the Dead. Here, the salvific purpose of the Office of the Dead is also illustrated by the struggle in the background between an angel and a devil for control of the dead man’s soul.

A deacon, holding a processional cross, is accompanied by three tonsured priests, wearing jeweled copes, including one holding an aspergil (for sprinkling holy water) in his right hand and touching an open book held by a second tonsured deacon. They are reciting the Rite for Burial and offering the deceased a final benediction of holy water. Behind stands a third tonsured deacon and four hooded mourners. The scene takes place in the graveyard of a Gothic church. A bird and a hybrid man inhabit the foliate and floral margin.