Recent Acquisition: an Italian Renaissance history of the persecution of Christians, with letters on a wide range of additional subjects

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries is pleased to announce that we have acquired the second edition of Boniifazio Simonetta’s De Christiane Fidei et Romanorum Pontificum Persecutionibus Opus, printed in Basel by Nicolaus Kessler, December 1509. This fascinating work is really encyclopedic in scope; the basic narrative deals with the history of the persecution of Christians, but also includes 179 letters by the author to a wide circle of his contemporaries, including such renowned figures of the Italian Renaissance as Lorenzo de Medici, Ludovico Sforza, Pico della Mirandola, and Pope Innocent VIII. This correspondence, interspersed throughout the text, treats a wide range of disparate subjects, including classical history, mythology, music, geography, botany, agriculture, medicine, physics, astronomy, and astrology. This second edition also includes a dedicatory preface by Jerome Emser, a prominent German theologian and Catholic opponent of Luther.

We have identified only other seven other North American holdings of this edition.

Sample page showing notation.
Front cover, showing binding in manuscript waste over vellum.
Back cover.

Recent Acquisitions: The Historical Slave Trade of Christians

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired two important works (bound together) concerning the historical slave trade of Christians. The first, Dominique Busnot’s Histoire du regne de Mouley Ismael, roy de Maroc, Fez, Tafilet, Souz, &c. (Rouen, 1714), treats the reign of Moulay Ismail ibn Sharif, Sultan of Morocco from 1672-1727, under whom the Kingdom of Morocco reached the zenith of its power and influence. Ibn Sharif controlled a fleet of corsairs based at Rabat which supplied him with Christian slaves and weapons through their raids in the Mediterranean and all the way to the Black Sea. The work also includes accounts of three voyages undertaken by the Trinitarian religious order to Ceuta and Meknes in Morocco in order to redeem some of these slaves and a list of names of the redeemed captives, as well as the lengths of their respective imprisonments.

Illustration from Busnot’s Histoire du regne de Mouley Ismael, roy de Maroc, Fez, Tafilet, Souz, &c. (Rare Books Small DT 323.5 .B87 1714)

The second work, Busnot’s La tradition de l’Eglise, dans le soulagement ou le rachat des esclaves, also published at Rouen in 1714, offers a more general study concerning the church’s practice of redeeming Christian slaves through the centuries.

We have found only one other North American holding for these works bound together that features separate title pages for each.

Recent Acquisitions: Rare Life of a 16th-Century Female Poet

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired a rare and interesting biographical first edition, Luis Munoz’s Vida y virtudes de la venerable virgen dona Luisa de Carvaial y Mendoca (Madrid, 1632). Mendoza (1566-1614), a Spaniard, is an unusual figure in the history of the English Recusant period: a Jesuit-educated female who travelled to England in 1605 to preach and teach with the aim of bringing Anglicans back to the Catholic Church. She also became known for her charitable works in London, taking care of the poor and helping those engaged in prostitution. Mendoza was also an accomplished religious poet, in the mystical tradition of great Spanish literary figures such as St. John of the Cross; the last section of the book includes her spiritual poetry.

We have located only two other North American library holdings of this edition.

Upcoming Events: May and through the summer

Currently there are no events scheduled to be hosted this summer in Rare Books and Special Collections.

The exhibit As Printers Printed Long Ago: The Saint Dominic’s Press, 1916-1936 will run through the summer and close in late July.

The current spotlight exhibits are The Work of Our Hands: A Multi-Venue Exhibition of Liturgical Vestments (March – May 2019) and Blasphemous Fun: Late Medieval and Early Modern Games of Chance and Fortune (May 2019).

Rare Books and Special Collections is open
regular hours during the summer —
9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday.

RBSC will be closed Monday, May 27th, for Memorial Day and Thursday, July 4th, for Independence Day.

Recent Acquisition: Defending Papal Primacy

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

The Hesburgh Libraries’ Rare Books Collection has recently been enriched by an interesting title, Michel Lequien’s Panoplia contra schisma Graecorum (Paris, 1718).

Lequien (1661-1733), a French Dominican theologian writing under the pseudonym “Stephano De Altimura”, wrote this defense of papal primacy in order to refute the claims of Nektarios, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem from 1661-1669, in a work first published in Greek in 1682. Nektarios’s book was later translated into Latin and printed in London in 1702, then reissued in 1717—we hold these editions in electronic format under the title: Tou pany kyr Nectarii…

We have discovered only two other North American library holdings of this response by Lequien.

Recent Acquisition: Spina’s 16th-century tracts on witchcraft

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

The Hesburgh Libraries has recently acquired an interesting addition to our already extensive holdings on the 16th-century Inquisition period in church history, Bartolommeo Spina’s Quaestio de strigibus (Romae, 1576). This title is actually comprised of three tracts on witchcraft written by the author around 1523, taking as his model Sprenger and Institoris’s Malleus Maleficarum (“Hammer of Witches”) from the late fifteenth century and emphasizing witches’ characteristic behavior in particular. A renewed interest in Spina’s works followed the establishment of the Roman Inquisition in 1542 and these tracts were collected for the first time in this edition. We count only four other North American libraries holding this initial publication of the title.

Upcoming Events: April and early May

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

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)

Thursday, April 11, 4:00pm | The Work of Our Hands Exhibition Guided Walking Tour and Discussion

The tour will commence at 4:00 p.m. in the Hesburgh Library Lobby and will continue to three sites across campus where liturgical vestments are exhibited. Guests will be guided through the Sacristy Museum at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Rare Books and Special Collections at the Hesburgh Library, and the Scholz Family Gallery at the Snite Museum of Art.

A panel discussion will be held in the Annenberg Auditorium of the Snite Museum of Art (lower level) following the tour, and then a reception in the Atrium of the Snite.

Thursday, April 18 at 5:00pmThe Italian Research Seminar: “De Sica’s Genre Trouble: Rom-Coms against Fascism?” by Prof. Lorenzo Fabbri (Minnesota, Twin Cities).

Sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies.


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: Purchas his Pilgrimes and John Smith (March 2019), and The Work of Our Hands: A multi-venue exhibition of liturgical vestments 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 closed April 19
in observance of Good Friday.

We will reopen at 9am on Monday, April 22, 2019.

Distinctive Xinxiang Series of Biblical Illustrations

by Hye-jin Juhn, East Asian Studies Librarian

In 2017, RBSC received thirty poster-sized prints (53 x 77 cm) from Grailville, a non-profit Catholic organization in Loveland, Ohio. Little was known about the prints. They were not dated. They contained a copyright statement by the Catholic University of Peking (1925-1952). They were apparently reproductions of Chinese-style paintings and calligraphic messages that illustrated the Bible. They appeared to have been intended for the Chinese audience.

Based on the following two sources, we now assume that these prints are copies of paintings done in Xinxiang, Henan in 1939 by Wang Suda.

Frontispiece portrait of the Right Reverend Monsignor Thomas M. Megan, S.V.D. from Atomic Apostle.

According to Atomic Apostle, Thomas M. Megan, S. V. D., Edward J. Wojniak’s biography of the Bishop Megan, who was the Prefect Apostolic of Xinxiang, Henan, Megan, in keeping with contemporary Vatican policy, used native art for Catholic teaching. He visited the Catholic University of Peking, chose Wang Suda among art students, and brought him back to his Xinxiang mission: “Megan himself chose the themes and directed their portrayal. Many a time, Wang Su-Ta was forced to throw away a half-completed picture because it did not measure up to Megan’s ideas and requirements.” (Wojniak, p. 139)

The Bishop gave the original paintings to the Catholic University of Peking. According to an article that appeared in the January 1941 issue of the Christian Family and Our Missions, the University reproduced the paintings in a “six-tone edition.”

“The series comprises thirty-five separate pictures illustrating the Old and New Testaments, the Sacraments and the Ten Commandments. The large size (55×61 cm, or, including the descriptive texts 60×80 cm) will make this series particularly useful for classroom and catechumenate use.” (p. 38)

The Xinxiang series at RBSC, though fewer and smaller in size, are possibly a reprint of the above-mentioned series.

The Xinxiang series is distinctive, and perhaps unique, in comparison to other paintings by Wang, and to paintings by his contemporary Chinese Christian artists.

In one painting, Jesus points at Peter and says, “You are the rock, Peter on which I will build my Church.” Peter, like the Bishop Megan, has a goatee and wears a “simple blue Chinese gown.” The church in the background resembles the “Chinese-style” church that the Bishop had built.

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.

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.