Charles Davis writes \"The image of a Bodleian Library, Oxford manuscript appears in the penultimate set of Royal Mail millennium stamps which double up as this year’s UK Christmas stamps.
Each of the four stamps in the set is designed to illustrate a millennium project with a Christian theme.
The 45p stamp marks the opening of a centre devoted to the story of St Patrick in Downpatrick, Co. Down, where the saint is reputed to be buried.
The stamp shows the opening of the Mass of Christmas Day, with a decorated initial P (opening the text, ‘Puer natus est’) and musical notation for plainsong, from a late-twelfth-century Gradual (MS. Rawl. C. 892, fol. 9r), the book containing the variable and fixed parts of the Mass to be sung by a choir or soloist.
The origin of the manuscript is in fact uncertain, but some of its liturgical features make a connection with the monastic cathedral of Downpatrick a possibility.
It was bequeathed to Oxford by Richard Rawlinson (1690-1755).
The photograph for the stamp was taken by Jacky Merralls and Nick Cistone in the Bodleian Photographic Studio.