The Hours of Mary Magdalene Jan Richardson

The Hours of Mary Magdalene

Inspired by jewel-like medieval prayerbooks called Books of Hours, this mixed-media series (collage, acrylic, and calligraphy) draws from the life and legends of Mary Magdalene. For larger views, click on the images. This will take you to the image's page at Jan Richardson Images, where you can learn more about the image as well as order it as an art print.

Magdalene & Jesus at Tea

(Matins) The Blessing Cups: Jesus & Mary Magdalene at Tea

The Magdalene's Farewell

(Lauds) After the Cross:
The Magdalene's Farewell

Shopping for Spices

(Prime) Shopping for Spices: The Three Marys on Holy Saturday

Resurrection Morning

(Terce) Touch Me Not:
Resurrection Morning

Magdalene Releasing Prisoners

(Sext) Release:
Mary Magdalene
Freeing Prisoners

Magdalene Preaching

(None) L'Evangeliste:
Mary Magdalene Preaching

Magdalene at Her Prayers

(Vespers) At Her Prayers:
Mary Magdalene with
a Book of Hours

Magdalene Ascending

(Compline) Magdalene Ascending: The Divine Hours


About the Series

The most popular book of the Middle Ages, a Book of Hours enabled lay people to keep a similar rhythm of prayer as the monks, nuns, and priests who prayed the Liturgy of the Hours—the eight times of prayer that helped them remember the presence of God throughout the day and night. In the days before the printing press, scribes and illuminators created these exquisite books by hand, using paints, inks, and dyes they crafted from such materials as plants, flowers, and costly stones and minerals including lapis lazuli and gold.  

The contents of the Book of Hours varied; virtually all of them contained the Hours of the Virgin (with illuminations of the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus), the Hours of the Cross (with illuminations depicting the events around Jesus' crucifixion), and the Hours of the Holy Spirit (with an illumination of the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost).

A rare addition to the Book of Hours was the Hours (or the Office) of Mary Magdalene. Typically this office was accompanied by just one or two illuminations depicting the Magdalene's life. The only Book of Hours Jan has found that contained an entire cycle of Magdalene illuminations (one for each prayer office) is the Savoy Hours, created in 14th century France. Most of the Savoy Hours, including the entire Office of Mary Magdalene, was destroyed in a fire in 1904. A written description of the illuminations survives, however, and provided inspiration for this Magdalene series.

For this series Jan borrowed also from other depictions of Mary Magdalene in medieval art, many of which made use of the rich store of Magdalene legends that emerged in that period. Here we catch glimpses of the legendary Magdalene who, according to the tales, moved to France and became a famous preacher, freed prisoners from a French jail, and spent the final years of her life in the wilderness, where she was carried to heaven by angels at each of the canonical hours.