A 17th Century Reexamination of a 4th Century Saint’s Legend

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Spine and front cover of binding.

Hesburgh Libraries has recently acquired a fascinating and important early modern work on the story of St. Ursula, a fourth-century British princess who tradition relates was martyred along with her 11,000 female followers by the Huns while on a pilgrimage to Rome. Vita et Martyrium S. Ursulae et Sociarum Undecim Millium Virginum etc. (Coloniae Agrippinae, 1647) by the Jesuit Hermann Crombach is an extensive defense of the legend’s historical veracity, as well as a detailed attempt to identify as many of her virgin companions as possible.

There was a resurgence of St. Ursula’s cult in the seventeenth century that witnessed the publication of a number of titles related to her; this tome “provides the most encyclopedic hagiographic coverage of the cult ever published.” ( Cartwright, The cult of St Ursula and the 11,000 virgins, 2016, p.21-22). This renewal of interest in the saint should probably be seen through the lens of the Catholic Reformation, in which detailed investigations into the authenticity of relics, saints’ legends, etc. were held up as proofs of the church’s reliability in transmitting her traditions.

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Crombach’s exhaustive approach even included an attempt to identify as many of Ursula’s companions as possible and the inclusion of three finely engraved maps attempting to trace the route of the retinue from southwest England to Rome, before they turned north and were martyred in the defense of Cologne—besieged at the time by the Huns.

The first map, added between pages 270 and 271.

We have identified only five North American library holdings of this work.

Upcoming Events: September 2022

Please note that the corridor outside RBSC is temporarily narrowed to a pedestrian tunnel due to ongoing library renovations, but we remain open regular hours.

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

Thursday, September 1 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: “How Contini Worked: The Critic’s ‘Scartafacci'” – Ryan Pepin (University of Notre Dame).

Friday, September 16 at 3:30pm | The Diary of Pelagia Rościszewska: Facts, Secrets, and Surprises – Dariusz Skórczewski (John Paul II Catholic University).


Daughters of Our Lady: Finding a Place at Notre Dame, an exhibition of materials from the University of Notre Dame Archives curated by Elizabeth Hogan and reflecting on the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Notre Dame, opened late-August and will run through the fall semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are Three Sisterhoods and Two Servants of God (June – September 2022) and A Day in a Life of the Warsaw Ghetto in Photographs (August – September 2022).

RBSC will be closed Monday, September 5th,
for Labor Day.

Rare First Edition of an Early Catholic Criticism of the Protestant Reformation

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has recently acquired an extremely rare first edition of Johannes Cochlaeus’ Glos Vn̄ Cōment Doc. Johānes Dobneck Cochleus von Wendelstein, vff CLIIII: Articklen gezogen vss einem Sermon Doc. Mar. Luterss von der heiligen Mess un̄ nüem Testamēt (Strassburg, 1523).

Cochlaeus (1479-1552) was one of the most prolific and rhetorically ferocious Catholic critics of the early Protestant Reformation and in this work attempts to refute one of Luther’s published sermons on the Mass, accusing him of being a “new Hussite” and likening him to the Bohemian reformer Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake in 1452. Cochlaeus repeatedly stressed Luther’s preference for Hussite teachings on the Eucharist over those embraced by the Church and assailed him for breaking down religious law, true penance, and the authority of any institution to determine proper religious belief and practice. In particular, the author attacks Luther’s denial of transubstantiation—the doctrine that the bread and wine are transformed into the flesh and blood of Christ during the act of consecration—and the latter’s substitution of “consubstantiation”, the view that the substance of the bread and wine coexists with the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist.

“Ultimately, Cochlaeus juxtaposed Luther’s preference for ‘your bread of Hus’ to the Church’s ‘body of Christ,’ a contrast that echoed Cochlaeus’ earlier accusations of Luther’s idolatrous veneration for Jan Hus and further showed Luther to be resistant to all forms of legitimate ecclesiastical authority.” (Haberkern, Patron Saint and Prophet, p. 228-9).

We have found only one other North American holding of this edition.

A 17th Century French Missionary in the Middle East

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has recently acquired a rare first edition of an account by a seventeenth-century French Carmelite missionary of his journey through the Middle East and India, Philippe de la Tres Sainte Trinite’s Itinerarium orientale…in quo varii successus Itineris, plures Orientis Regiones, earum Montes, Maria & Flumina, Series Principum, qui in eis dominati sunt, Incolae tam Christiani, quam Infideles Populi (Lugduni, 1649).

Philippe traveled through Syria, Armenia, Persia and India, describing the situation of Christians abroad as well as taking notes on the flora, fauna, and geography of the places he visited. The work contains ten chapters; the eighth and ninth offer descriptions of the various Christian missions to the Middle and Far East, including an account of the martyrdom of two Carmelite missionaries in Sumatra in 1638.

The author (1603-1671) eventually settled in Goa (India), where he taught until he was elected General of the Carmelite Order in 1665.

We have found only three other North American holdings of this edition.  

Four Works by a Controversial Augustinian Hermit

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired a rare and beautifully printed edition of Enrico Noris’s two controversial works, Historia Pelagiana and Dissertatio de Synodo V. Oecumenica (Patavii, 1708 and 1707) ; this volume also contains his Vindiciae Augustinianae quibus Sancti Doctoris scripta adversùs Pelagianos and is bound with his Opera Varia.

The first work, in which this Augustinian hermit (1631-1704) attacks Pelagianism and its emphasis on the efficacy of human free will and denial of original sin, was almost immediately suspected of propounding Jansenist doctrines; accompanying this copy is an extremely rare Inquisitorial broadside announcing the suspension of the title from the Spanish Index of Prohibited Books in 1758, accomplished after protracted lobbying by the Augustinian Order and the intervention of Pope Benedict XIV himself in 1748.

The second work on the church’s Fifth General Council deals with the Second Council of Constantinople (553) and supports the council’s condemnation of Nestorianism, which emphasized the distinction between Christ’s human and divine natures and denied that Mary could be called the Mother of God (in Greek, Theotokos).

Cardinal Enrico (or Henry) Noris, of Irish ancestry, held the Chair of Church History at the universities of Pesaro, Perugia, and Padua before gaining a position as Assistant Librarian in the Vatican in 1692; he became the full Librarian in 1700.

We have found only five other North American holdings of this edition.

Upcoming Events: April and early May

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

Tuesday, April 5 at 4:00pm | “Piranesi’s Lost Book” by Heather Minor (Notre Dame).

POSTPONED—NEW DATE WILL BE ANNOUNCED WHEN KNOWN: Thursday, April 7 at 4:30pm | Ravarino Lecture: “Pandemic and Wages in Boccaccio’s Florence” by William Caferro (Vanderbilt).

Rare Books and Special Collections will be open regular hours during Reading Days and Exams (April 27 – May 5). We welcome those looking for a quiet place to study.


The spring exhibit The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond is now open and will run through June. This exhibit, curated by David T. Gura (Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts), marks the 75th anniversary of the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. Tours are available for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences, by request.

The current spotlight exhibit are 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses (January – April 2022) and Remembering Early England (March-April 2022).

All exhibits are free and open to the public during business hours.

Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed April 15 in observance of Good Friday.

We will resume regular hours
(Monday – Friday, 9:30am – 4:30pm)
on Monday, April 18.

Upcoming Events: March and early April

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

Thursday, March 24 at 5:00pm | The Italian Research Seminar: “We, the People: Strategies of Representation in the Italian Novel” by Roberto Dainotto (Duke). The Spring lectures are being planned in a hybrid online and in-person format; registration for online access is available via the event description page. Sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame.

DATE & TIME UPDATED – Tuesday, April 5 at 4:00pm | “Piranesi’s Lost Book” by Heather Minor (Notre Dame).

Thursday, April 7 at 4:30pm | Ravarino Lecture: “Pandemic and Wages in Boccaccio’s Florence” by William Caferro (Vanderbilt).


The spring exhibit The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond is now open and will run through June. This exhibit, curated by David T. Gura (Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts), marks the 75th anniversary of the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. Tours are available for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences, by request.

The current spotlight exhibit are 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses (January – April 2022) and Remembering Early England (March – April 2022, opening soon).

All exhibits are free and open to the public during business hours.

Upcoming Events: February and early March

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

Wednesday, February 9 at 2:00pm – 5:00pm | Celebration: 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

The semester-long Ulysses exhibition will be supplemented by a temporary ‘pop-up’ display of books and art. Visitors are welcome to come during any part of the afternoon. At 3:30, there will be a short talk titled “Joyce, Proust, Paris, 1922” by Professor Barry McCrea.

Registration is encouraged but not required. Read more and register


The spring exhibit The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond is now open and will run through June. This exhibit, curated by David T. Gura (Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts), marks the 75th anniversary of the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. Tours are available for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences, by request.

The current spotlight exhibits both feature materials relating to the centenary of James Joyce’s Ulysses: 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses (January – April 2022) and David Lilburn’s Eccles Street Print (January – February 2022).

All exhibits are free and open to the public during business hours.

The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. The current exhibit is constituted in celebration of this anniversary and brings some of the University’s finest medieval manuscripts and early imprints to the fore, drawn from the Hesburgh Library, Snite Museum of Art, and the McGrath Institute for Church Life.

The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond features Bibles and Biblical texts from the 12th through 21st century, including numerous illuminated Bibles from Italy, France, England, and Bohemia, a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, chant manuscripts, and the Saint John’s Bible. The exhibit seeks to show the varying contexts of the medieval Bible as well as its early modern successors: in the schools through interpretation and commentary, in public through the liturgy and preaching, in private through prayer and devotion.

Cod. Lat. a. 2, folios 139v and 140r

This exhibit is curated by Dr. David T. Gura (Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts). This and other exhibits within the library are generously supported by the McBrien Special Collections Endowment.

The Word throughout Time: The Bible in the Middle Ages and Beyond is on view from January – June 2022 in Rare Books & Special Collections. Contact Dr. David T. Gura to schedule tours and class visits.

Seventeenth Century Dominicans Supporting the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

The Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired a rare, early modern compilation of works by four authors from the Dominican Order supporting what was then the still controversial doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which holds that the Virgin Mary was free of original sin from the moment of her conception. This doctrine was not elevated to the status of dogma until 1854, when Pope Pius IX issued his bull, Ineffabilis Deus.

The volume, Monumenta dominicana: ex quatuor auctoribus Sacri Ordinis Praedicatorum qui pro Immaculata Virg. Conceptione ex professo scripserunt (Lovanii, 1666), was compiled by Pedro de Alva y Astorga and features the earliest appearance in print of Tommaso Campanella’s De Immaculata Conceptione. Campanella (1568-1639), a philosopher, theologian and poet, was known as a strong supporter of Galileo during the latter’s first trial; Campanella’s astrological speculations and opposition to the authority of Aristotle led to his prosecution by the Roman Inquisition in 1594. He was confined to a convent until 1597.

Other writers in this compendium include Ambrogio Caterino Politi (1487-1553); Vincenzo Giustiniano Antist (d. 1599), and three sermons by Guillaume Pepin (d. 1533). Interestingly, the Dominicans (including Thomas Aquinas) had mostly opposed the doctrine during the Middle Ages, but by 1431 the Council of Basel declared Mary’s Immaculate Conception “a pious opinion” consistent with faith and Scripture and in the 16th century, the Council of Trent—while not making a definitive pronouncement on the subject—exempted her from the universality of original sin.

We have found only one other North American holding of this title.