Benedictional of St Ethelwold, Winchester between 971 and 984

London, British Library, Add. Ms. 49598, fol. 99r

This heavily and sumptuously framed portrait shows St Benedict, the “Partiarch of Western Monasticism“. He is depicted as abbot with a halo, a golden headband and a crown in his left hand. His right hand rests on his book of the Benedictine Rule on which the daily life of the Benedictine monks was based.

The benedictional, from which this miniature is taken, is a collection of blessings for the feast days of the church year. It is one of the greatest works of the “Winchester School” and one of the most precious of all English illuminated manuscripts. It was commissioned by St Ethelwold (963-984), abbot of Winchester, himself Benedictine and one of the great English monastic reformers of the tenth century.