After the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, Charles d’Orléans was captured by Henry V and spent some 25 years in prison, hoping to be ransomed. He was a fine poet and at that time became very close to various English Franciscans. This Antiphon, probably composed for the nuns of St Clare at Coimbra, appears for the first time in The Book of Hours of Charles d’Orléans, dated 1430.
The Franciscans were very active in times of plague, as the Sicilian, Michele da Piazza, writes in his Chronicle:
“The Franciscan and Dominican brothers, as well as those of other Orders, went voluntarily to the houses of the sick, heard their confessions and gave them penitences and they themselves died in such great numbers that their monasteries were deserted….”
It is because of their activity that this Antiphon for use in time of plague is found in manuscripts from Coimbra to Prague.
Stella caeli extirpavit,
quae lactavit Dominum,
mortis pestem quam plantavit,
primus parens hominum.
Ipsa stella nunc dignetur
quorum bella plebem caedunt
dirae mala ulcere.
O piissima Maris Stella,
a peste succurre nobis.
Audi nos, Domina,
nam Filius tuus nihil negans te honorat.
Salva nos, Jesu.
pro quibus Virgo mater te orat.
Star of Heaven.
whose milk fed our Lord,
drive out this mortal plague
brought by the first parents of mankind.
May that same star
grant heaven be restrained
that now, with dread and awful wounds,
afflicts the populus.
O most merciful Star of the Sea,
save us from the plague.
Hear us, Lady, for your Son
nothing can deny to those who honour you.
Save us, Jesu,
for whom your Virgin Mother prays.
For fuller information see www.historicalsoundscapes.com
Many thanks to Christina Linares for the contribution.