“Lord, Hear My Prayer...” Books of Private Devotion at the End of the Middle Ages

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2023/04/22 - 2023/05/31


Our temporary exhibition in honour of the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Hungary presents different types of Latin and vernacular manuscript and printed books used for private devotions in the late medieval Kingdom of Hungary and its wider territory.

„…mikoron imádkozandol, menj be te titkod házadban, és ajtód betevén imádjad te atyádat az titok helyen” (“…when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret”) – this is how the Gospel translation in the early 16th century Jordánszky Codex rendered in Hungarian Jesus’ teaching on turning to God. This solitary, individual form of prayer became increasingly valued in the late Middle Ages, and served as an important complement to communal prayer (Mass, Divine Office). As literacy gradually spread, so did the number of Latin and vernacular manuscripts offering texts for conducting private devotion.

The exhibition will introduce visitors to the colourful world of late medieval prayer books through the seven codices and one print, as well as through the complementary material available on digital devices.


Our chamber exhibition offers an insight into the world of late medieval Latin and vernacular prayer books, and through these often very personal compilations into the spiritual lives and even the everyday lives of their patrons and users, into the spiritual lives, concerns and hopes of people at the end of the Middle Ages.

Visitors can see one of the most richly decorated manuscripts in our collection, learn what a nun or a lay man of the early 16th century could have defended himself against with prayer, and try to decipher the earliest Hungarian prayers found in the codices.


The exhibition is open free of charge from 22 April to 31 May 2023.
The exhibition is available in Hungarian and English.


Curator: Ágnes Korondi and Gábor Sarbak
(ELKH–NSZL Fragmenta et Codices Research Group)
Exhibition design: Mária Gazdag / Lulla Interiors
Graphic Design: Tamás Takács / Artom Grafika
Exhibition installation: Kiáll Kft.