An illustration for May from a Flemish Book of Hours, by Simon Bening in the early 16th century
The Metropolitan Museum has three copies of the Book of Hours at the Cloisters: the Hours of Jeanne d’Evreux, the Belles Heures of Jean de France, duc de Berry, and a diminutive manuscript by Simon Bening.
The devotion was modeled after the Divine Office, which was recited in monasteries at specific hours of the day. There were eight sets of prayers in the Book of Hours, meant to be said over a 24-hour span of time.
Some books also had other elements, such as a set of gospel lessons, the psalms, and prayers to saints known as Suffrages, according to the Met. Calendars reminded patrons of important feasts and saints’ days.+
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