The Walters Art Museum

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Media Contacts:
Amy Mannarino      
410-547-9000, ext. 277     

Jessica Weglein
410-547-9000, ext. 394


The exhibition coincides with the reopening of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

Baltimore—The Walters will display a superb collection of illuminated medieval manuscripts and early printed missals as a group for the first time in the exhibition, For This Is My Body: The Medieval Missal, on view Nov. 4, 2006–Jan. 28, 2007. A missal is a type of liturgical book a priest uses for the celebration of the Mass. The exhibition, timed to coincide with the reopening of Baltimore’s historic Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption, examines the origin, function, symbols and patronage of the missal in the Middle Ages. A particular emphasis will be placed on illustrations that decorate the text of the Canon of the Mass, the core of medieval church doctrine devoted to the Crucifixion and the celebration of the Eucharist. At the Canon’s most profound moment, the priest lifts the Sacred Host and recites the words “Hoc est enim Corpus meum,” or “For this is my Body.”

 “The Walters Art Museum is pleased to present these historic liturgical texts that will provide insight into how the medieval mass was conducted,” said Richard Leson, the Zanvyl Krieger curatorial fellow in manuscripts and rare books.

The exhibition will comprise 12 manuscripts, three early printed missals and medieval liturgical objects used during the consecration and display of the Eucharist, including a chalice and an early monstrance, a receptacle for the host. Featured will be the famous Saint Francis missal, the manuscript that many believe Saint Francis of Assisi—the Catholic patron saint of animals and the environment—used to determine the basis for the rule of his new order of Friars. By consulting the holy text, Saint Francis described evangelical life as living in obedience without any personal possessions and following the teaching of Jesus Christ. A short video about this famous manuscript and the reasons behind its association with Francis will be shown in the gallery.

The Walters collections include some of the finest examples of Christian art in the world. Every type of art object is represented, ranging from the early Christian period to the modern age. The collection encompasses objects, such as souvenir pilgrimage flasks, medieval portable altars, liturgical furnishings, illuminated manuscripts, devotional icons and ivories, and painted altarpieces. These objects are integrated with one another in the galleries to evoke a sense of their original context and use. In addition to its western European and Byzantine holdings, the museum possesses one of the finest collections of Ethiopian and Armenian Christian art in the United States.

The Walters Art Museum is located in Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon Cultural District at North Charles and Centre streets. Its permanent collection includes ancient art, medieval art and manuscripts, decorative objects, Asian art and, Old Master and 19th-century paintings. Peabody Court is the official hotel of the Walters Art Museum. For hotel reservations, call 1-800-292-5500.