Jean Bourdichon, Stundenbuch für Anne de Bretagne - Das Martyrium der Heiligen Ursula und der 11.000 Jungfrauen
Saint Ursula (Latin for ‘little female bear’) is a legendary Romano-British Christian saint, died on October 21, 383. Her feast day in the pre-1970 General Roman Calendar is October 21. There is little definite information about her and the anonymous group of holy virgins who accompanied her and on some uncertain date were killed at Cologne. They remain in the Roman Martyrology, although their commemoration does not appear in the simplified Calendarium Romanum Generale (General Roman Calendar) of the 1970 Missale Romanum.
The earliest evidence of a cult of martyred virgins at Cologne is an inscription from c. 400 in the Church of St. Ursula, located on Ursulaplatz in Cologne which states that the ancient basilica had been restored on the site where some holy virgins were killed. The earliest source to name one of these virgins Ursula is from the 10th century.
Her legendary status comes from a medieval story that she was a princess who, at the request of her father King Dionotus of Dumnonia in south-west Britain, set sail along with 11,000 virginal handmaidens to join her future husband, the pagan governor Conan Meriadoc of Armorica. After a miraculous storm brought them over the sea in a single day to a Gaulish port, Ursula declared that before her marriage she would undertake a pan-European pilgrimage. She headed for Rome with her followers and persuaded the Pope, Cyriacus (unknown in the pontifical records, though from late 384 AD there was a Pope Siricius), and Sulpicius, bishop of Ravenna, to join them. After setting out for Cologne, which was being besieged by Huns, all the virgins were beheaded in a massacre. The Huns’ leader fatally shot Ursula with a bow and arrow in about 383 AD (the date varies).
There is only one church dedicated to Saint Ursula in the United Kingdom. It is located in Wales at Llangwyryfon, Ceredigion.
Jean Bourdichon (1457 or 1459 – 1521) was a French miniature painter and manuscript illuminator at the court of France between the end of the 15th century and the start of the 16th century, in the reigns of Louis XI of France, Charles VIII of France, Louis XII of France and Francis I of France. He was probably born in Tours, and was a pupil of Jean Fouquet. He died in Tours.
Two of Bourdichon’s most famous works are the Hours of Louis XII (now dispersed, begun 1498) and the Grandes Heures of Anne of Brittany for Louis’s queen.