A Religious Community

Processional, Plimpton MS 034, 018r

The historiated initial on folio 18r depicts St. Clare, holding a crozier and chalice. St. Clare wears a black veil, white wimple, black tunic and gray mantle. While St. Clare's rule only mentions clothes to insist that they be coarse, the rules of Pope Innocent IV (1247) and Urban IV (1263) specify the black color of the veil and the "neither completely white nor completely black" color of the habit, respectively.* They also discuss the white veil in detail: St. Clare's wimple in this image depicts her as a fully-professed nun, as opposed to a novice or lay sister who would wear a white under-veil. 

 *Quoted in Cordelia Warr, “Religious dress in Italy in the late Middle Ages,” in Defining Dress: Dress as Object, Meaning and Identity, ed. Amy de la Haye and Elizabeth Wilson (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999), 82.

Processional, Plimpton MS 034, 008v

The decorated initial on folio 8v appears to depict another Clarissan sister. Her white wimple covers cheek, neck and forehead, and the darkness of the letter "R" around her face suggests the black veil that would have covered her head.  

Processional, Plimpton MS 034, 019v

The face depicted within the "N" on folio 19v appears to be wearing a white wimple covering cheek, forehead and neck, which suggests that it may be depicting another woman religious. More obviously than the face on folio 8v (see above), however, this nun's head is connected to the body of a bird-like creature, which is in turn connected to a swirling, leafy branch. 

Processional, Plimpton MS 034, 032r

Like the face on folio 8v, the tiny face within the "N" on folio 32r is reminiscent of a wimpled face inside of a black veil. The yellow surrounding the face suggests a wimple, and the darkness of the letter suggests the surrounding veil. However, the small dark line under the nose suggests a moustache, which is not a type of facial hair depicted in any of the other images, and challenges the assumption that this image depicts a woman.

Processional, Plimpton MS 034, 003r

The tonsure on the head depicted in the "N" of "Nunc dimittis" on folio 3r indicates the religious status of this man. 

Processional, Plimpton MS 034, 031r

The lack of facial hair on the tiny face in the "A" of "Amen" on folio 31r may also represent a religious person of either gender. 

The Faces of Plimpton MS 034
A Religious Community