The term Vigilia refers to the night before a major feast, which had its own particular devotions. The feasts listed here start with Thomas the apostle. The Nativity of Jesus Christ, or Christmas, is, of course, one of the main feasts of the year. Stephen was the first Christian martyr, stoned to death for his determined belief. John the evangelist was the author of the gospel of John, but was also equated in medieval legend with John the Divine, author of the Book of Revelation. The Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine cites a life history that fits in both these projects, along with a few miracles. Holy Innocents commemorates the massacre of the infants of Bethlehem and surrounds by Herod. Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, murdered in his own cathedral, is the only medieval saint on this page. Pope Sylvester, according to legend, baptised the Emperor Contantine, but history claims that Sylvester was already dead when this deed ocurred.
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Calendar from a Book of Hours, c.1470. From a private collection. Photographs © Dianne Tillotson.

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Medieval Writing
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