Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired a unique set of over eighty bound, handwritten letters, Traicte pour les tres devotes & tres vertueuses dames, les dames religieuses du Calvaire (MSE/EM 2833), from Francois Leclerc du Tremblay, also known as Pere Joseph, to the nuns of Calvaire between 1614 and 1638. Pere Joseph began his career as a soldier, serving at the Siege of Amiens in 1597, but in 1599 he renounced the world and entered the Capuchin priory of Orleans. He became a notable preacher and in 1606 helped Antoinette d’Orleans, a nun of Fontevrault, found the order of the Filles du Calvaire—the community to whom these letters are addressed.
Pere Joseph (1577-1638) is also known as a confidant of Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642), and was the original “eminence grise” (“grey eminence”), the French term for a powerful advisor who operates “behind the scenes.”
Recently acquired is a full-size, color facsimile of the Golden Qur’an (Cod.arab. 1112), held in the Bavarian State Library (BSB) in Munich. The original manuscript was restored by the BSB’s Institute of Book and Manuscript Restoration in 1967. This true-to-size facsimile replicates both the physical appearance and features of the restored codex. Some loss of the ornamental decoration along the edges indicates the text block was trimmed when the codex received a later binding.
The Golden Qur’an is among a small number of Qur’ans written using colored writing materials. The most notable example of these colored works is the late 9th- or early 10th-century Blue Qur’an from Tunisia that was written in Kufic script on indigo-dyed vellum.
The holy text in the Golden Qur’an is written in black Naskh cursive on gold-coated paper. The image below reveals the reflection from these golden pages.
Each sura heading is framed in blue, white, and reddish-brown script and is decorated with floral and arabesque patterns. Verses are separated by rosettes.
This Qur’an probably originated in Iraq or Iran. It has many features which indicate that it was a product of the school of Ibn al-Bawwab, the early 12th-century Persian illuminator and calligrapher. The Qur’an employs ink colors—white, brown, crimson, and black—that had been introduced by Ibn al-Bawwab. The vertical letters slant slightly to the left and are written in a dense but clear style that is characteristic of his school. In addition, the first page features an unusual arrangement of two sura titles. In the basmala (the name for the Islamic phrase which translates into English as “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”), the Arabic letter “sin” is elongated.
This fine volume contains not only the 53 guidelines comprising the Constitutions, but also the Rule of the Order with the commentary of Hugh of St. Victor (d. 1141). Following the Rule is a liturgical calendar, which has important feast days highlighted in red and enclosed by woodcut border strips.
Closing the volume are instructions for celebrating Mass, the Ordinary (5 everyday prayers: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei), 36 pages of music, and Onofrio Panvinio’s chronicle of the Order.
This volume is bound in 18th-century vellum over boards and is printed in Italic type. It is decorated with historiated initials and black and red woodcut borders.
According to the WorldCat database, there is only one other North American holding of this edition.
The main exhibit this spring is In a Civilized Nation: Newspapers, Magazines, and the Print Revolution in 19th-Century Peru. This exhibit is curated by Erika Hosselkus and draws on strengths of Rare Books and Special Collections’ José E. Durand Peruvian History collection. Together these items offer diverse perspectives on Peruvian political events and cultural and religious practices and preferences from the colonial era, through the country’s birth in 1825, and beyond the turn of the twentieth century.
The spotlight exhibits during early April are From Distant Waters: Whaling Manuscripts in Special Collections and Baseball and Tin Pan Alley: Sheet Music from the Joyce Sports Collection, both curated by George Rugg. The baseball exhibit will end mid-month, with the exhibit Chaste, Choice and Chatty: Irish-American Periodicals of the Nineteenth Century, curated by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, opening for the second half of the month and continuing through the summer.
Giovanni Battista de Rossi (1822-1894) was a distinguished scholar of early Christian archaeology. Born in Rome, he attended the Collegio Romano and La Sapienza, earning a doctorate. After finishing his studies he was appointed scriptor at the Vatican Library, where he cataloged manuscripts. In addition to his expertise in archaeology, de Rossi was skilled in epigraphy and was an authority on the topography of ancient and medieval Rome. His studies of the apse mosaics in Roman churches continue those of the seventeenth-century scholars Jean l’Heureux and Giovanni Giustino Ciampi. He travelled widely, and was acquainted with the foremost European scholars of his day.
De Rossi was a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Antiquarian Society. A devout Catholic, he heard Mass every day. As his health failed, Leo XIII gave him use of an apartment at Castel Gandolfo, where de Rossi died in 1894.
De Rossi published a number of works in the second half of the nineteenth century, among which is this recent acquisition by the Hesburgh Libraries. The Musaici cristiani e saggi dei pavimenti delle chiese di Roma anteriori al secolo XV [“Christian Mosaics and Specimens of the Floors of the Churches of Rome Prior to the 16th Century”] originally was published in 27 fascicles between 1872 and 1896. The Libraries’ set is bound into two folio volumes, the first being the text and the second featuring 53 plates of illustrations. William Jackson of Aberdeen, Scotland was responsible for its binding. This set was presented to a monastery library by Lady Cecil Kerr (1883-1941), a Catholic author who wrote historical and devotional works.
The illustrations in the second volume are fine examples of chromolithography, which was a technique developed in the nineteenth century for the mass production of color images. The process of chromolithography used multiple blocks or stones, each of a different color, which were printed successively to develop each image. The Libraries’ copy includes some highlights in gold.
This title has been variously attributed to Cardinal William Allen, Robert Parsons and Nicholas Sander, but seems to actually be the work of an unidentified author who explicitly states that it is intended as a supplement to Allen’s A briefe historie of the martyrdom of xii priests (Rheims, 1582). The title clearly references—and is a response to—Iustitia Britannica (Londini,1584), the Latin translation of William Cecil Burghley’s The execution of justice in England, which defended the execution of Edmund Campion and other Catholics in 1581.
This acquisition is the first and only edition of the work; we have identified only six other North American holdings.
The story about a female pope—Pope Joan—circulated widely from the early thirteenth century and was generally accepted. Allegedly, a woman disguised herself as a male in order to attend university with her lover. She quickly ascended through the ecclesiastical hierarchy and was elected pope under the name John. She reigned for two and a half years before her true identity was revealed when she fell to the ground and gave birth.
Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired an interesting and very rare example of a French Protestant writer refuting another Protestant author’s denial of the Pope Joan legend.
This digital exhibit expands on the current exhibit on display in Special Collections. It displays examples of American Catholicism expressed through (mostly) printed texts from 1783 through the early 1840s. They include the earliest Catholic bibles published by Mathew Carey, and editions of Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ used and produced in the United States; polemical pamphlets with sexual and political subtexts that flew back and forth across the Atlantic; no-holds-barred dueling sectarian newspapers; books and pamphlets created in reaction to mob violence against the Ursuline convent school near Boston; and official reports that mapped the Church’s growth and growing pains.
Questions and comments may be directed to Rachel Bohlmann and Jean McManus. The physical exhibition continues to be open to the public through August 11, 2017.
Gregory XIII (birth name: Ugo Boncompagni) reigned from 1572-1585 and, in addition to his famous calendar revision, energetically continued the implementation of reforms articulated at the Council of Trent (1545-1563). These reforms included the insistence that bishops reside within their sees and the foundation of many new schools for the training of the clergy.