St Patrick and the Nun of Kenmare

Cusack’s Life of Saint Patrick
with Hennessy’s Tripartite Life of St. Patrick

by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian

Visitors to the Special Collections usually notice our stained glass picture of Saint Patrick. However, this is far from the only reference to Ireland’s patron saint in the Special Collections. Among the many books, pamphlets and prints relating to Patrick, we have this Life of Saint Patrick, written by a woman known variously as the Nun of Kenmare, Margaret Anna Cusack, or Sister Mary Francis Cusack.

Sister Mary Francis Cusack, a prolific writer on Ireland and on the Catholic faith, was born in 1829. She grew up in County Dublin and also in England where she joined an Anglican religious order. In 1858 she converted to Catholicism and joined the Poor Clare order. [1]

In 1861, Cusack was among the founders of a new community of Poor Clares in Kenmare, County Kerry. In Kenmare,  Cusack began to publish her writings, and became a well-known writer among Irish Catholics. Her writings found a market among Irish-American Catholics, contributed greatly to the convent’s income. She remained in Kenmare until 1880, and traveled to Knock, County Mayo, the site of an apparition in 1879. There she attempted to found a convent and industrial school. This endeavor failed, and she left for England.

In England, she established a new order, St. Joseph’s Sisters of Peace, with convents in Nottingham and Grimsby. She later moved to the United States and opened an American mother-house of the order, but this met with little success. Having had difficulty in her dealings with bishops, Cusack resigned from the order and left her convent. She left the Catholic Church and was a Methodist until her death in 1899.

The Life of Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland was written while she was Sister Mary Francis Cusack, published in 1871, and clearly intended for a wide readership as the title page lists publishers in London, Dublin, Boston and Australia. The first edition had apparently been published in Kenmare, County Kerry in 1869, with an American Catholic publishing house listed also on the title page. [2]

The saint’s life, as explained by Cusack, who argues that Patrick was a Catholic, and emphasizes his miracles, takes up the first 368 pages of this book and includes many illustrations. Each page is framed in a decorative border. In fact, the book would be a handsome addition to any home library.

‘The Tripartite Life of Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland’, pages 369 to 502 of this book, is, according to the title page of this section, translated from the original Irish by W. M. Hennessy.

While nowadays we expect a scholarly translation of old manuscripts to include introductory information outlining the sources used and the language of those sources, this information is difficult to glean from Hennessy’s translation. William Maunsel Hennessy (c. 1829-1899), was a highly-regarded scholar of Celtic studies and of Irish manuscript literature.

Hennessy’s text here is an edition translated from manuscript sources dating from about one thousand years earlier, and therefore in Old Irish, quite different from the language spoken in the nineteenth century. While Hennessy does not specify his sources, Cusack, in her introductory chapters, describes the various accounts of St. Patrick’s life found in the Book of Armagh, of which she states that the Tripartite Life is the most important. She also mentions that it is regrettable that the Book of Armagh is now in a Protestant institution, Trinity College, but on balance, it is a good thing that it is safe and well cared-for.

In Hennessy’s text, he occasionally alludes to his manuscript sources, for example, following the story of Patrick and his sisters being sold as slaves in Ireland, the author states that a leaf is missing from both the Bodleian and British Museum MSS. of the Tripartite Life.

The text describes many miracles carried out by Patrick, from boyhood on. The following passage describes the event where Patrick is said to have lit a fire in defiance of the king.

As the people of Tara were thus, they saw the consecrated Easter fire at a distance, which Patrick had lighted. It illuminated all Magh-Bregh. Then the king said, “That is a violation of my prohibition and law; and do you ascertain who did it.” “We see the fire,” said the druids, “and we know the night in which it is made. If it is not extinguished before morning,” added they, “it will never be extinguished. The man who lighted it will surpass the kings and princes, unless he is prevented.” When the king heard this thing, he was much infuriated. Then the king siad, “That is not how it shall be; but we will go,” said he, “until we slay the man who lighted the fire.”

…..

The druid Luchat Mael put a drop of poison into the goblet which was beside Patrick, that he might see what Patrick would do in regard to it. Patrick observed this act, and he blessed the goblet, and the ale adhered to it, and he turned the goblet upside-down afterwards, and the poison which the druid put into it fell out of it. Patrick blessed the goblet again, and the ale changed into its natural state. [3]

This Life of Saint Patrick calls out to be examined and researched. This lavishly-produced book invites questions about the readership and intended audience, the sources used, and many other questions. In fact, writing this blogpost was challenging because exploring the book raised more questions than answers. Where did the illustrations come from? Did W. M. Hennessy publish this translation anywhere else, and what were his manuscript sources? Who purchased copies of this book? As is the case with many of our books, a visit to the Rare Books and Special Collections to view this book up close would be very rewarding.

 

 

[1] Patrick Maume. “Cusack, Margaret Anna (‘The nun of Kenmare’)”. Dictionary of Irish Biography. James McGuire, James Quinn. (ed.) Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

[2] The 1869 edition may be viewed in Hathi Trust.

[3] Hennessy, M. F. ‘The Tripartite Life of Saint Patrick’, in Cusack, p. 385-388.

Recent Acquisition: the “Golden Book” of St. John Chrysostom

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has recently acquired an interesting and quite rare first edition by the great early Christian preacher and writer St. John Chrysostom (349-407). Usually referred to as his “Golden Book” in English translations, De educandis liberis liber aureus (Paris, 1656) discusses the Christian education of children. Printed in parallel Greek and Latin translation, the latter was added by the book’s Dominican editor, Francois Combefis. In the preface, Combefis notes that he had discovered the manuscript of the work in the collection of Cardinal Mazarin, who was responsible for the upbringing of the young Louis XIV, and expresses the hope that it will be useful for his education.

Interestingly, this tract was not included in collected editions of Chrysostom’s works because its authenticity was questioned, and it was not until 1914 that a new edition of the Greek text was issued by Franz Schulte (which Hesburgh Libraries holds in its general collection). This seventeenth-century “editio princeps” is held by only two other North American libraries.

Upcoming Events: March and early April

Please join us for the following event being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Wednesday, March 27 at 4:00pm | A Conversation with Sandow Birk. Renowned illustrator Sandow Birk will be visiting Notre Dame on March 27 and 28. He will speak about his work, including his illustrations of the Divine Comedy and the Qur’an.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies , the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, the Devers Family Program in Dante Studies, and the Program in Liberal Studies.

Tuesday, March 28 at 5:00pmThe Italian Research Seminar: “Pasolini Screenwriter for Fellini” by Prof. Claudia Romanelli (Alabama).

Sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies.

Thursday, April 4, 5:00pm | Medieval Institute Byzantine Series Lecture: “The Gospel of John in the Byzantine Tradition” by Fr. John Behr (St. Vladimir’s Seminary)


The spring exhibitAs Printers Printed Long Ago. The Saint Dominic’s Press 1916-1936, curated by Dennis Doordan (Emeritus Professor, Notre Dame School of Architecture), opened in January and runs through the summer. The exhibition features different types of publications and posters produced by Saint Dominic’s Press, setting the story of the press within the larger history of the private press movement in England and examining its artistic as well as literary achievements.

The current spotlight exhibits are: Theresienstadt (Terezín), in remembrance of all the victims of the Holocaust, and Creeley/Marisol: Presences (through March 6, 2019). Both spotlight exhibits will be changed in early March to Purchas his Pilgrimes and John Smith (March 2019), and The Work of Our Hands, a multi-venue exhibition organized in conjunction with the Notre Dame Forum 2018-19: “The Catholic Artistic Heritage: Bringing Forth Treasures New and Old” (March – early June 2019).

If you would like to bring a group to Special Collections or schedule a tour of any of our exhibits, please email rarebook @ nd.edu or call 574-631-0290.


Rare Books and Special Collections will be open regular hours, 9am-5pm, during Notre Dame’s Spring Break (March 11-15).

Documenting Girls and Girlhood — Library Collections on Display

This week’s conference on Girls Studies, hosted by Notre Dame’s Gender Studies Program, prompted us to organize a related display of items from our collections.

Concentrating on particular strengths in our Irish and American collections, we decided to highlight fiction for and about girls, creative work by girls, books on girls in sport, advice literature, and works on girls’ culture.

On Thursday morning (February 28), visitors may tour this temporary exhibit and have an opportunity to examine, at close quarters, an album of art that belonged to the Edgeworth family of Ireland, a young girl’s sewing sampler from 1844, and the diary of a New England girl, describing her years as a mill-worker.

Selections from the Irish Fiction Collection will include examples of books from L. T. Meade and Rosa Mulholland, writers of the Victorian era, and contemporary fiction on girlhood.

L. T. Meade was one of the most prolific writer of stories for girls in her time, and she was also one of the first writers of girls’ school stories. In addition to her hundreds of books, she was for a time editor of Atalanta, a magazine for girls.

The display will feature at least one volume of the Atalanta magazine, which had a variety of serialized stories as well as articles on subjects such as careers for women, and also had a regular literary essay contest.

Also featured, from the Catholic Pamphlets collection, our display will include examples of the information and advice given to girls in the mid-twentieth century. This, and items from the American Sports Collection, will round out our display and provide a wide array of ideas for anyone considering research in this area.

The one-morning exhibit is curated by Rachel Bohlmann and Aedín Clements.

Recent Acquisition: Hugo Achugar Papers

by Hannah E. Sabal, Processing Archivist for Special Collections

The Hugo Achugar Papers have been recently described and are open to students and researchers.

Hugo Achugar (1944-) is a Uruguayan literary critic and prolific writer of poetry and essays. He has held teaching positions at universities in both Latin America and the United States, including Universidad de la República, Uruguay; Universidad Católica, Venezuela; Northwestern University; and Dartmouth College. He currently serves as a member of the Emeritus Faculty at the University of Miami. Some of Achugar’s better-known works include Ideologías y estructuras narrativas en José Donoso, 1950-1970, a literary essay on the works of José Donoso; Hueso Quevrado (cuaderno de la Bahía), a collection of poetry; and Falsas Memorias: Blanca Luz Brum, a fictionalized account of the life of Blanca Luz Brum.

Conference Materials, 1991, 2008

The collection consists of manuscripts, photographs, clippings, and journals, all forming a record of Achugar’s professional career. Included are correspondence, notes and research files, lecture and conference materials, and poetry. The collection also includes Achugar’s personal library, which will soon be cataloged.

“Hueso Quevrado (Cuaderno de la Bahia),” Drafts, 2004-2006 (folder 1)

The highlight of the collection is the series of articles and drafts, comprised of drafts of both published and unpublished essays, poetry, and fiction. For some works, there are multiple drafts written at different points in time, allowing researchers to follow Achugar’s writing process. For example, in the series exist various drafts, notes, and preparatory materials for Hueso Quevrado, representing Achugar’s process from research to draft to revision.

“Hueso Quevrado (Cuaderno de la Bahia),” Drafts, 2004-2006 (folder 2)

For more information on this collection, please view the online finding aid.

Recent Acquisition: Jansenist controversy in 18th century France

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired a rare and interesting two-volume work, Louis Basile Carre de Montgeron’s La verite des miracles operes a l’intercession de M. de Paris et autres appellans (1737-1741), which provides a view of the continuing Jansenist controversy in the 18th-century French church. Montgeron, a magistrate of the Parlement of Paris, experienced a miraculous conversion at the tomb of Francois of Paris, an ascetic Jansenist deacon, and thus became a champion of the Jansenist cause; in this work he defends the miracles which were claimed to have occurred near the tomb in the parish cemetery at Saint-Medard and the “Convulsionnaires”, pilgrims who experienced convulsions while visiting the site.

Although Jansenism, with its emphases on grace, predestination, miracles and what seemed to critics as denial of human free will, had been condemned by Pope Clement XI in the papal bull Unigenitus in 1713, this account by Montgeron shows its continuing influence through the first half of the century.

Upcoming Events: February and early March

Please join us for the following event being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:

Thursday, February 21 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: Presentations by M.A. Students in Italian: Gabriella Di Palma and Guido Guerra.

Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

Tuesday, February 26 at 3:30pm | Book Celebration: Roman Sources for the History of American Catholicism, 1763–1939.

Welcome and remarks by: Diane Walker (Hesburgh Libraries); Angela Fritz (University Archives); Jean McManus (Hesburgh Libraries); Stephen Wrinn (Notre Dame Press); and Kathleen Sprows Cummings (Cushwa Center). Refreshments to follow.

Sponsored by Hesburgh Libraries, University Archives, Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, and Notre Dame Press.

Thursday, February 28, 9:00am to 11:00am | Documenting Girls and Girlhood — Library Collections on Display.

In association with the International Girls Studies Association meeting, and the University of Notre Dame’s International Gender Studies Conference, Hesburgh Libraries’ Rare Books and Special Collections will host a display on the culture, literature, and history of girls and girlhood. Drawing on the Irish and American collections, there will be a fascinating array of books, manuscripts, periodicals, posters and artifacts demonstrating religious, rebellious, domestic, and literary girlhoods. Rachel Bohlmann, American history and gender studies librarian, and Aedín Clements, Irish studies librarian, will be available to provide tours and answer questions.


The spring exhibitAs Printers Printed Long Ago. The Saint Dominic’s Press 1916-1936, curated by Dennis Doordan (Emeritus Professor, Notre Dame School of Architecture), opened in January and runs through the summer. The exhibition features different types of publications and posters produced by Saint Dominic’s Press, setting the story of the press within the larger history of the private press movement in England and examining its artistic as well as literary achievements.

The current spotlight exhibits are: Theresienstadt (Terezín), in remembrance of all the victims of the Holocaust (January – February 2019), and Creeley/Marisol: Presences, an exhibit occasioned by the 2018 publication of a critical edition of Presences, edited by Stephen Fredman, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Notre Dame (January – February 2019).

If you would like to bring a group to Special Collections or schedule a tour of any of our exhibits, please email rarebook @ nd.edu or call 574-631-0290.

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Follow us on either or both social media sites to keep up to date with events, exhibitions, recent acquisitions, and highlighted items from our collections.

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Anti-Semitism, Catholics, and Jews around WWII in the Library’s Catholic Pamphlet Collection

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian

This Sunday, January 27, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The library is commemorating it in a number of ways: a program on Friday, January 25, centered on American Catholic newspaper coverage of the Holocaust; a small exhibition on prisoners held at the German Nazi concentration camp, Theresienstadt (Terezín); and this post, which features selections from one of the library’s most notable collections, Catholic pamphlets. The pamphlets shown here display a range of views held by Catholics about Jews, although the larger collection also includes pamphlets published by non-Catholics (Jews and Protestants) about anti-Semitism and Jews.

In 1937 the Catholic Association for International Peace in Washington, D.C. published an English translation of The Church and the Jews: A Memorial Issued by Catholic European Scholars. It had first been published in German, anonymously, as its writers argued against German anti-Semitism even as they called for the conversion of Jews to Christianity.

Three years later Thomas F. Doyle, an American priest, published The Sin of Anti-Semitism in which he stated flatly that “anti-Semitism has long existed in the United States.” He admonished his fellow Catholics to remember the commandment to love your neighbor. It was an idea, he argued, that for Catholics, made a mockery and an insult of anti-Semitism.

In Jewish Problems? by “a Christian Israelite” published in 1944, convert David Goldstein addressed Christian misconceptions about Jews and Judaism. He also quoted then Bishop James Frances McIntyre, that the “Church is anti-sin and not anti-any persons, no matter what their religious beliefs may be.”

Another Jewish convert to Catholicism and a cleric, John (originally Johannes) M. Oesterreicher, fled German-held Austria in 1938. In a pamphlet first published in 1942, The Blessed Virgin and the Jews, he condemned Nazis’ anti-Semitism (and their attacks on Catholics) and called for Jews to convert, and he cited examples of Jews who had done so.

The collection also includes virulent anti-Semitic views, as in The Rulers of Russia, an American edition of an Irish pamphlet by a priest, Denis Fahey C.S.Sp. Published in the US in 1940, Fahey attacked the Soviet Union in part because he claimed that an international cabal of Jews had dominated the Bolshevik Revolution and subsequent Communist rule there.

The pamphlets shown here represent just a few examples of the debate over anti-Semitism during this critical period. We highlight them to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Recent Acquisition: The Hildegard Sekler Collection

By Jennifer Brcka, Processing Archivist for Special Collections

In the immediate wake of the Anschluss, or German annexation of Austria on March 12, 1938, the German Reich initiated a campaign against that nation’s Jewish citizens. The Seklers, a Viennese family, were victims of these actions, and later, of the Holocaust. The Hildegard Sekler Collection, a recent archival acquisition by Hesburgh Libraries’ Rare Books and Special Collections, records the family’s story through a series of letters and documents.

The collection consists of over 400 pieces of correspondence generated surrounding the separation of Leopold and Toni Sekler from their daughter, Hildegard. Most relate to Hildegard’s flight from Austria at the age of sixteen, and chiefly date from the years between 1939 and 1945. The bulk are personal letters and postcards sent to Hildegard by family, friends, and her tutor. A body of official correspondence with governmental and aid agencies has been preserved here, as well. More than 100 documents and personal papers are also found within the collection. These range from official records relating to Leopold’s career in the Vienna Finance Ministry to, less formally, Hildegard’s homework assignments, school notes, and essays.

Name change slips for Leopold and Toni Sekler and the latter’s passport, as displayed in the January 2019 spotlight exhibit about Theresienstadt (Terezín).

This group of personal documents includes Leopold and Toni Sekler’s passports. In August of 1938, the German authorities enacted the Executive Order on the Law on the Alteration of Family and Personal Names. This order required Jews with non-Jewish first names to formally add “Israel” for males and “Sara” for females to their legal names. The Seklers were forced to comply. Three slips noting the name changes for each remain inserted in Leopold Sekler’s Passport. Following a similar pronouncement aimed at identifying Jewish citizens, Toni Sekler’s passport was stamped with a red “J”.

Letters illuminate desperation the family felt in the months that followed. Leopold Sekler appealed to Switzerland and the United States to obtain visas for the family to emigrate. His requests were met with delays and little success. Undeterred, he sought out directories and wrote to a handful of New Yorkers, strangers with the Sekler name, whom he hoped might provide support for a visa application. Replies from a Constance Sekler express frustration over past experiences with the Consulate in Vienna, as well as with her own limited resources. Empathetic, though unable to assist, she wrote, “Whether or not we are related isn’t of great importance because I am just as much interested in your welfare in any event.” A Jack Sekler, living in the Bronx, was able to offer support, though a quota system placed the Sekler family on a waiting list, and ultimately prevented their seeking asylum in America.

In January of 1939, a letter from the Welfare Headquarters of the Jewish Cultural Society advised that it had secured passage to England for Hildegard. At age 16, she quickly fled, unaccompanied, to London where she lived in a youth hostel. A wave of letters from her parents and concerned family and friends soon followed. Many capture the bleakness of the situation for those who remained in Austria.  A March 14, 1939 letter sent by Trude Mesuse states (in German), “Furthermore, your father wants you to know, if he writes “ich” like this at the end or the beginning of a sentence, you ought to pay attention to this sentence and think about it, because it will have a particular meaning he can’t express clearly writing from Vienna. And you should be careful when you write, too.”

Many letters express the love and concern of parents separated from their only child. In a letter (in English) from her father on June 1, of 1940, he asks his “Dear Hilde” to, “[…] stay in the garden as long as possible and to sleep by open windows. You had better to speak only English, at home too. It would be better for all big girls. The German language you will not forget, I am sure. The conversation is the most important and the best mean to learn a language, believe me, I know it by experience.” By 1941, sending correspondence to countries at war with Germany was prohibited, and Leopold used the Red Cross Message Service to send his daughter greetings on her nineteenth birthday.

Further correspondence within the collection convey the uncertainties of life in London during the Blitz. Hildegard studied in London with a tutor, Dr. Judah Simon Goller, who wrote her frequently. In an undated letter he mentions two children, mutual acquaintances and also displaced minors, who had recently left London to be reunited with family. He muses, “So the twins have gone, and we are short two more. Please God, [may] they reach their parents in safety and soon forget all their sorrows, and remember sometimes the little joys they shared with us. I wonder what’s the good of telling me not to worry about the children when there’s a raid on? I just can’t help it.”

Hildegard continued, unsuccessfully, to seek a means for her parents to flee Austria. In October of 1942, Leopold and Toni Sekler were deported to Theresienstadt, a transit and labor camp. From there, the couple were transported to Auschwitz on October 12, 1944. Neither survived. Hildegard married her tutor, Dr. Goller, in 1960. She remained in London until her death in 2008.

Through materials largely in German or English (and occasionally in French), the Hildegard Sekler Collection presents a unique view of the Anschluss and its aftermath, unaccompanied child refugees of the Holocaust, wartime experiences in London, and personal histories of prisoners of Theresienstadt. The collection (MSE/MD 6408) is open for research in Rare Books and Special Collections, and a detailed finding aid can be found online.