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It Was Mary and Paul

In response to:

Sacred Glamour from the December 5, 2019 issue

To the Editors:

In my otherwise enthusiastic review of Christopher de Hamel’s Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts [NYR, December 5], I queried his interpretation of the upper register of the calendar illustrations in the Hours of Jeanne de Navarre. A kindly colleague has drawn my attention to the “Exposition” that accompanies the closely related calendar in the Belleville Breviary, in the French Bibliothèque Nationale. This contemporary commentary unequivocally identifies the crowned woman, whom I suggested represented “Ecclesia,” as the Virgin Mary, standing at the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem, and the seated apostle at her feet (as de Hamel had suggested) as being indeed Saint Paul, expounding the twelve articles of the creed. It’s vexing to have overlooked this evidence, but a compensatory pleasure to acknowledge a further example of de Hamel’s lightly carried learning.

Eamon Duffy
Cambridge, England