Saint Avia in Prison Receiving Communion from the Virgin

Jean Bourdichonabout 1480–1485

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

One version of the legend of the virgin and martyr Saint Avia tells that the saint, imprisoned for adhering to her Christian beliefs, miraculously received communion from the Virgin Mary. In this miniature the crowned Virgin appears with an entourage of adoring angels carrying liturgical objects, including an incense holder and a processional cross. The Virgin herself offers the host and holds the chalice.

In this book of hours, the miniature accompanies an intercessory prayer written in French rather than in the more common Latin. The use of French rather than Latin illustrates the local and contemporary popularity of Avia, one of many fictitious saints who were widely venerated in fifteenth-century France. Intercessory prayers, appeals for assistance addressed to God or to specific saints, were grouped together in books of hours. The contents of these sections varied, since they were personalized with prayers dedicated to locally popular saints or to saints with personal meaning for the patron.


  • Title: Saint Avia in Prison Receiving Communion from the Virgin
  • Creator: Jean Bourdichon
  • Date Created: about 1480–1485
  • Location Created: Tours, France
  • Physical Dimensions: Leaf: 16.4 × 11.6 cm (6 7/16 × 4 9/16 in.)
  • Type: Folio
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Tempera colors, gold, and ink on parchment
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 84.ML.746.143
  • Culture: French
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. 6, fol. 143
  • Creator Display Name: Jean Bourdichon (French, 1457 - 1521)
  • Classification: Manuscripts (Documents)

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