The Hours of the Virgin sanctified the day by establishing the following times of prayer (with Matins and Lauds said together), and each hour was accompanied by an illumination (see table for hours and their standard illumination). These images draw one's attention to the life of the Virgin and her role, even her co-suffering, in Christ's life. The illuminations do not illustrate the text; rather, they encourage one to meditate on the life of the Virgin as one reads the prayers, psalms, and hymns of the hour.
The psalmist proclaims, "Seven times a day I have given praise to thee" (Psalm 118: 164). The Hours of the Virgin afford the opportunity for the laity, not only the clergy, to praise God seven times a day. The Officium Parvum Beate Marie Virginis , or "Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary", originated in the Breviary (the service book for the clergy). "What had started as an accretion to the Breviary became the favorite prayerbook of layfolk everywhere" (Harthan Books of Hours 13).