About Digitized Devotion
Digitized Devotion is a database that brings together information about 508 books of hours, prayer books, psalters, and other medieval materials containing elements of books of hours from four institutions:
- The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library (Charlottesville, VA)
- The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu, CA)
- The Morgan Library & Museum (New York, NY)
- The Walters Art Museum (Baltimore, MD)
Digitized Devotion is a joint project of Emma Dove and Lauren Kim, who worked together during the COVID-19 pandemic with the goal of making data about medieval devotional manuscripts across institutions more accessible to a wider audience.
About Books of Hours
Books of hours, often called “the medieval best seller,” were personal Christian prayer books that guided their typically lay users through key components of the Divine Office – a set of prayers, psalms, hymns, and antiphons that constituted the daily routine of medieval monasticism and marked eight canonical hours throughout the day.
Between c. 1225, when the first books of hours began to appear, and 1571, when Pope Pius V prohibited the use of all existing books of hours, more of these prayer books were created than any other type of book, including the Bible.Sandra Hindman and James H. Marrow, eds., Books of Hours Reconsidered, Studies in Medieval and Early Renaissance Art History (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013), 5.
Books of hours contain a remarkable range of visual, material, and textual variation, in part because they evolved from psalters (books containing the Biblical psalms) and breviaries (books containing the Divine Office), and in part because they often contain personalized elements – programs of texts and images created or included specifically for their owners, and even owner portraits that allowed devotees to visualize themselves amidst the contents of their prayer books.
Books of hours survive in large numbers, and the diverse range of material they contain makes them prime sites for the exploration of the practices and identities of late-medieval Christians and their changing communities.
|↑1||Sandra Hindman and James H. Marrow, eds., Books of Hours Reconsidered, Studies in Medieval and Early Renaissance Art History (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013), 5.|