Prayer book with ms poem by Mary, Queen of Scots to go on show in NMS

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“A rare “jewel-like” prayer book featuring a poem handwritten by the young Mary, Queen of Scots is to go on show at the National Museum of Scotland on loan from Liechtenstein.

The Book of Hours, which will be on show from March 31 to August 3 in Edinburgh, originally belonged to Mary’s great aunt, Louise de Bourbon, Abbess of Fontevraud.

The manuscript includes a four-line verse in French which the teenage Mary composed in the late 1550s, around the time of her marriage to the Dauphin Francois.

She signed it with the motto Va tu meriteras (Go, you will be deserving), and her monogram, combining her initial M with a Greek letter which is the phonetic representation of F for Francois.

The translated poem reads:
“Since you wish to remember me here
in your prayers and devout orations,
I ask you first that you remember
what part you have in my affections.”

Dr Anna Groundwater, principal curator of renaissance and early modern history at National Museums Scotland (NMS), said: “It is wonderful to be able to display this rare, jewel-like book.

“It’s particularly moving to see the young Mary, writing in her best script, to one of her closest relations in her mother Marie de Guise’s absence.”