For a friar's private piety

A bifolium from a Dominican Breviary printed by Giorgio Arrivabene in Venice in about 1500 (each page 137 x 100 mm) 

Dominicans were, and are, an order of friars whose main mission was to preach. Like many church people they were required to recite the 'Divine Office' for each day, something they could do privately wherever they were, rather than communally in a monastery. The Breviary was the handbook that enabled them to do this, and this pair of leaves is from a compact and portable edition designed for use 'on the road'. Despite their name, breviaries were far from brief.

By custom, manuscript breviaries had the text that was to be read or recited written in black, while red ink was used for initials and other signposting, and for the instructions on what was to be used when. As in the preceding Antiphonary, this two-colour arrangement was carried on in printed breviaries for many years, as we see in this example from about 1500.   

The printer, Georgio Arrivabene, was active for about thirty years from 1384. He was succeeded by other members of the family, one of whom, Andrea, produced a version of the Koran described as 'a bad Italian version, [made] from a worse Latin translation'.

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