Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore

“She went out and gave Holofernes’ head to her servant, who placed it in her food sack” (Judith 13:9–10). Although Judith was a deeply religious woman, she committed acts clearly against Jewish law: She murdered a defenseless man and then showed no respect for his body. Perhaps, some scholars suggest, the Book of Judith was excluded from the canon because of these illegal and immoral actions.

This gaily colored and lavishly detailed scene from the story of Judith illuminated a Book of Hours—a type of prayer book that was widely used in Europe during the Middle Ages. The Book of Hours to which this page belongs was painted in France about 1465–70. The Latin text contains a plea by Judith to God to “make haste to help me.”