Abingdon Abbey Buildings

The Abingdon Missal

Abingdon Missal

The Abingdon Missal is a 15th Century manuscript held by the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

The University of Cambridge Faculty of English web site used to have a page devoted to the Abingdon Missal. Although the page is still indexed on their web site, it is no longer available – but when it was available, the Crucifixion scene from the Missal (right) was described thus:

“A richly ornamented image of the Crucifixion, from the Abingdon Missal, showing, at the bottom left-hand corner, the manuscript’s donor, William Ashenden (Abbot of Abingdon, 1436-68). He is dressed in a black robe trimmed with ermine and wears a mitre, and holds a scroll bearing the words ‘Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum’. Two shields are also included bearing the arms of the Abbey of Abingdon and of its Abbott. The scene of the Crucifixion is enclosed in an elaborate frame, set into which are the symbols for the four evangelists, the figure of a pelican, symbolising the Eucharist, and the Greek letters ‘ihs’, the first letters of the name Jesus.

“The scene of the Crucifixion includes a bleeding Christ on a heavy, rough cross with a plaque bearing the letters INRI (Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum) set awkwardly above the cross beam. The five wounds of Christ, in his hands, feet and side, are clearly visible. The figures of Mary and St John, richly dressed, stand either side of Christ, Mary leaning away from the cross, St John holding a book, probably representing his Gospel. The background is a rich pink/gold, with grass and plants at the bottom of the frame. The figures are carefully drawn and painted, but depiction of emotion is restrained . The whole image is surrounded by rich floral ornamentation in delicate colours and gold. (The manuscript is part of the collection bequeathed to the Bodleian Library in the 17th century by the collector Sir Kenelm Digby).”