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This Roman Catholic missal was published in Venice by the heirs of Lucantonio Giunta in 1563. The Missale Romanum is a liturgical book that contains the prayers and readings for the celebration of Mass. From the eleventh century onward, the Canon has appeared in the middle of the Missal; and since the time of Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) it has been customary to place a picture of the Crucifixion at the beginning of the Canon. The Canon begins with the prayer, “Te Igitur.”

If you look to the opposite leaf of text, you will see that, as is customary, this illustration of the Crucifixion has been placed facing the canon of the mass:

Text: "Te igitur, clementissime Pater, per Iesum Christum Filium tuum Dominum nostrum, supplices rogamus, ac petimus."

Translation: “To you therefore, most merciful Father, we make humble prayer and petition through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.”

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This illustration depicts three emotional spectators at the foot of the Crucifixion. The artist has taken great detail to the muscularity of Christ, who wears a cincture around his waist. His face is drawn but shows no agony; his head is bent and his eyes are open. The Virgin Mary wears the veil, and holds a cloth to her face as if weeping. The woman on the ground passionately grips the Cross; her mouth is twisted in a wail. Her left hand reaches almost to the foot of Christ. This could only be Mary Magdalene, both penitent in her posture and anguished in her love and devotion to Jesus. The third figure is the Apostle John, who is depicted as a young man without a beard.


Artwork in the public domain