Sunday, October 2, 2016

St. Thomas a Becket's Psalter

According to this story in The Guardian, St. Thomas a Becket's Psalter (the Book of Psalms, which are used in the Divine Office) may have been found--the very Psalter he was praying from at Vespers on December 29, 1170, in the Cathedral at Canterbury:

A Cambridge academic believes he has discovered Thomas Becket’s personal book of psalms, an ancient manuscript the martyred saint and so-called “turbulent priest” may have been holding when he was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170.

Dr Christopher de Hamel, a historian at Cambridge University, stumbled across the book during a conversation with a colleague. De Hamel, author of the just-released
Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts, had said that books belonging to saints were generally not used as relics, and his fellow historian replied that he knew of an exception.

He showed de Hamel an entry from the Sacrists’ Roll of Canterbury Cathedral, dating to 1321, which gave a detailed description of a Psalter, or book of psalms, in a jewelled binding, that was then preserved as a relic at the shrine of Becket in the cathedral. Becket, archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 to 1170, was murdered by four knights inside the cathedral, who took on the task after supposedly hearing Henry II remark: “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?”

De Hamel said that he read the Psalter’s description, and realised he had seen it before: an Anglo-Saxon Psalter in Cambridge’s Parker Library bears the same description on its flyleaf. It is undoubtedly the same manuscript from Becket’s shrine, he believes.

Please read the rest at The Guardian. 

Here, also, is de Hamel's explanation of the provenance of the Psalter.

St. Thomas a Becket and the monks had just finished chanting Psalm 129, "De profundis clamavi ad te" ("Out of the depths I call to thee") and were reading the Chapter: Hebrews 1:1-2, when the knights attacked the Archbishop of Canterbury:

Multifariam et multis modis olim Deus loquens patribus in prophetis novissime diebus istis locutus est nobis in Filio quem constituit heredem universorum per quem fecit et saecula.

"In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways,but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir  of all things, and through whom also he made the universe."

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