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The Lorrha Missal

Also Known as the Stowe Missal, found in Lackeen castle in the 18th century

The Lorrha Missal, also known as the Stowe Missal, is a sacramentary from the late 8th or early 9th century, possibly after 792. It is a small Irish illuminated manuscript containing mostly Latin prayers and some Old Irish. It was annotated and rewritten at Lorrha Monastery in County Tipperary in the mid-11th century. Between 1026 and 1033, it was encased in a protective cumdach, which was refurbished and embellished several times before 1381. The manuscript and cumdach were hidden from attackers and looters at Lackeen Castle near Lorrha for centuries until they were found in the 18th century.

The manuscript is mostly written in Latin, with only the last three folios in Old Irish. It contains extracts from the Gospel of John, prayers for the Order of Mass, special Masses, Order of Baptism, Order of Communion, Order for the Visitation of the Sick, and Last Rites. The missal is dated to before 800, based on the prayers for St. Ruain, and reflects the early usage of Celtic Christianity.

The missal's five original scribes wrote in an angular majuscule script, while a later scribe revised several pages using a more cursive hand. Another scribe decorated the plain initials with heads and other designs using a pointed pen. Some of the initials are decorated, notably a full-page evangelist portrait of John with his symbol of the eagle, decorated with Insular interlace. The manuscript's small size suggests that it was intended to be portable and serve as a "pocket book."

The Lorrha Missal is a testament to the artistry and spirituality of the Irish people during the early Middle Ages. 

Analysis on the Stowe Missal

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