The Library of Virginia
De Oratione et Valore Eius
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Jean Gerson (1363-1429). De Oratione et Valore Eius: De Arte Audiendi Confessiones; De Remediis Recidivium Peccandi. England, fifteenth century.

For centuries before the invention of printing, books were the work of individual copiers, or scribes, who produced or duplicated texts in meticulous manuscript. Usually members of religious orders, they were especially intent on ensuring that important ecclesiastical and other works survived for the ages.

De Oratione et Valore Eius provided an explication for the hearing of confessions and the remission of recurring sins, complete with marginal notations. The red-colored initials and headings characteristic of such volumes are known as "rubrication" and were much favored as a stylistic device of the time. The volume's parchment pages are made of vellum, or animal skin, as is the book's later nineteenth-century binding. Although a handwritten note in the book states that the "Ms. was wrote about A.D. 1360," the declaration is undoubtedly a misreading of an earlier owner's shelf-location mark on the volume's spine: "No. 1360." This manuscript book dates from the fifteenth century and is the oldest item in the collections of the Library of Virginia.