Recent Acquisition: Presenting Profane Authors as Proto-Christian Writers

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Rare Books Small
B 1818 .L5 D47 1746

Hesburgh Libraries has recently acquired a rare and rather provocative four-volume set, Le Libertinage Combattu par le Témoinage des Auteurs Profanes, par un Bénédictin de la Cong. de S. Vanne (Charleville, 1747). The Benedictine referred to in the title has been identified as Remi Desmonts.

Writing in the period during which the works of atheistic philosophes such as Voltaire and Diderot had become very influential, Desmonts attempts to frame the profane authors who influenced these contemporaries as essentially proto-Christians, preaching values which mirror those of the Church. Thus, Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura produces evidence for the existence of God and Providence; Aristotle becomes an ardent defender of the immortality of the soul; Cicero teaches the value of mercy, while Horace and Ovid defend continence and a love of purity.

Volume 1 defends the existence of God, Volume 2 the efficacy of prayer and the immortality of the soul, Volume 3 contains proscriptions against vice, while Volume 4 praises virtue.

We have discovered only three North American holdings of this unusual work.

Upcoming Events: November and early December

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

Thursday, October 11 at 4:30pm | Dante in America, Session VI: “Recollecting Dante Collecting” by Christian Y. Dupont (Boston College), and “A Dante Museum Orbiting the Sun: Paul Laffoley’s Dantesphere Project” by Arielle Saiber (Bowdoin College).

The Dante in America lectures are sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies and the Devers Family Program in Dante Studies.

The fall exhibit “Bound up with love…” The extraordinary legacy of Father John Zahm’s Dante Collection is now open and will run through the end of the semester. Public tours of the exhibit are offered every Wednesday at 12:15pm. Tours are also available for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences, by request. No registration required and tours are free and open to the public.

The current spotlight exhibits are The Ferrell Manuscripts (August – December 2021) and A Limited Edition Photo Album of the Sistine Chapel (August – December 2021).


RBSC is closed
Thursday and Friday during
Notre Dame’s Thanksgiving Break,
November 25 – 26
.

A Welsh Witch in the Woods

by Sara Weber, Special Collections Digital Project Specialist

“There is hardly any Traveller in Wales, who has not heard, at least, of the titles of some of those ancient traditionary tales, which every grandmother, on a cold winter evening, repeats to her grandchildren, sitting round the blazing hearth.”

Thus does the anonymous author or editor of Welsh Legends: a Collection of Popular Oral Tales (London: printed by J.D. Dewick … for J. Badcock, 1802) preface the five pieces found in this book. For this year’s Halloween post, we share with you the full text of the second piece, a poem titled “The Weird Witch of the Wood”.


Happy Halloween to you and yours
from all of us in Notre Dame’s Special Collections!

Halloween 2016: Ghosts in the Stacks
Halloween 2017: A spooky story for Halloween: The Goblin Spider
Halloween 2018: A story for Halloween: “Johnson and Emily; or, The Faithful Ghost”
Halloween 2019: A Halloween trip to Mexico
Halloween 2020: Headless Horsemen in American and Irish Legend

Recent Acquisition: Explorations of Metaphysical Topics by a Dominican Scholar

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

The Hesburgh Libraries has recently acquired an interesting and extremely rare two-volume, folio-sized exposition of Thomistic approaches to metaphysical topics, Paul Marie Cauvin’s Cursus Philometaphysicus: scilicet continens tum universae Philosophiae cum Famosiores Metaphysicae speculationes (Bononiae, 1692). It features Aristotelian metaphysics with a scholastic commentary, “compositus ad Mentem Angelici Praeceptoris D. Thomae Aquinatis.”

Although the scholastic method of philosophical inquiry generally declined in popularity during the early modern period, it remained a strong influence within Aquinas’ own Dominican Order. Cauvin (1642-1716), a Dominican from Lombardy, explores a number of epistemological areas usually considered outside the domain of theology, using Aristotle’s metaphysics as a starting point. He draws not only on Thomas, but also on other important medieval representatives of the scholastic tradition, such as Albertus Magnus, Scotus, and Durandus. As the author was the Chair of Metaphysics at the University of Bologna, he may have intended the work to be a university textbook.

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

“Bound up with love…” Exhibiting the Extraordinary Legacy of Father Zahm

by Tracy Bergstrom, Curator, Zahm Dante and Early Italian Imprints Collection

This year marks the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, and people around the world are celebrating the milestone. In conjunction with this anniversary, our current exhibit showcases the preeminent Dante collection held by the University of Notre Dame. 

In the fall of 1902, Rev. John A. Zahm, CSC, negotiated the purchase of forty-eight important early print volumes of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy on behalf of the University. The purchase marked a convergence of Zahm’s growing interest in the works of Dante with his efforts to transform Notre Dame into a modern university. Zahm’s purchase of these volumes afforded the University an extraordinary collection on Dante, including magnificent early printings such as that produced in Florence in 1481 displayed below. It also provided a substantial foundation on which to base subsequent collecting activities. 

Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321. La commedia. Florence: Nicolaus Laurentii, 1481.

This edition of Dante’s Comedy features commentary by the Florentine humanist and philosopher Cristoforo Landino (1425-1498). Landino’s was the most influential commentary to Dante’s poem during the Renaissance. Sandro Botticelli designed the iconographic visual program, which was executed in an unfinished series of woodcuts by Baccio Baldini.

In 1995, William and Katherine Devers funded an endowment to support teaching and research on Dante across the University, including the purchase of rare materials in support of the Zahm Dante Collection. Highlights of our recent acquisitions include rare printings of the three crowns (le tre corone) of Italian literature – Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio – as well as verse anthologies of poetry and other tools such as grammars and dictionaries that would have assisted 16th century readers of vernacular literature. 

Nicolò Liburnio, 1474-1557. Le tre fontane di messer Nicolo Liburnio: in tre libbri diuise, sopra la grammatica, et eloquenza di Dante, Petrarcha, et Boccaccio. Venice: Per Gregorio de Gregorii del 1526, nel mese di Febraio, (1527).

Alongside the first grammar books, the earliest lexicons made their appearance in the first decades of the 16th century and soon became very popular. Written as a manual for beginners, with mainly young people and women as the target audience, the goal of this volume was to teach how to write correctly in the vernacular. The three “fountains” of the title refer to the three crowns of Italian literature: Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio.

The title of this exhibit comes from the final canto of Dante’s Paradise, in which Dante has arrived at the conclusion of his journey and beholds a vision of the universe “bound up with love together in one volume.” Father Zahm read a canto from the Divine Comedy daily, and the themes of unity and promise encapsulated within this title seem apt when considering his early efforts to build such an extraordinary collection. 

This exhibit was curated by Tracy Bergstrom (Curator, Italian Studies and Dante Collection), Chiara Sbordoni (Adjunct Professor in Italian, Rome Global Gateway), and Demetrio Yocum (Senior Research Associate, Center for Italian Studies). This and other exhibits within the library are generously supported by the McBrien Special Collections Endowment.

The exhibit is on view from August 23 – December 17, 2021. Weekly free exhibit tours are offered on Wednesdays at 12:15pm in Rare Books & Special Collections. 

Upcoming Events: October and early November

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

Thursday, October 7 at 4:30pm | Dante in America, Session V: Dante, Jazz, and American Modernism” by Joseph Rosenberg (University of Notre Dame), and “‘Was Then Your Image Like the Image I See Now?’ Dante’s Face in America” by Kathleen Verduin (Hope College).

The Dante in America lectures are sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies and the Devers Family Program in Dante Studies.

Wednesday, October 13 at 3:45pm | “‘Bound with Love . . .’: The Extraordinary Legacy of the John A. Zahm, C.S.C., Dante Collection”, a panel discussion with Tracy Bergstrom, Theodore Cachey, and Margaret Meserve.

This panel discussion is part of the Founder’s Day series of events being held at the University Notre Dame on October 12-13, 2021.

The fall exhibit “Bound up with love…” The extraordinary legacy of Father John Zahm’s Dante Collection is now open and will run through the end of the semester. Public tours of the exhibit are offered every Wednesday at 12:15pm (except October 6). Tours are also available for classes or other groups, including K-12 audiences, by request. No registration required and tours are free and open to the public.

The current spotlight exhibits are The Ferrell Manuscripts (August – December 2021) and A Limited Edition Photo Album of the Sistine Chapel (August – October 2021).


RBSC is open regular hours during
Notre Dame’s Mid-Term Break,
October 18 – 22
.

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2021

We join the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Migratory History from a Child’s Point of View

by Erika Hosselkus, Curator, Latin American Collections

In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we share this Migratory History of La Raza coloring book, printed in 1974 by El Renacimiento, a branch of the Lansing, Michigan publisher Renaissance Publications. Emerging from the city’s vibrant and active Chicano community, the coloring book narrates the history of the U.S. Chicano population in pictures and bilingual text, for Michigan’s Chicano youth. Michigan-based Chicano artist, David Torrez, produced both the history and the drawings included in the title, which is as much textbook and activist statement as coloring book. 

The coloring book’s activist stance and message are evident even from its cover. Printed on glossy cardstock, it features a Chicano boy, dressed in Southwestern clothing, smiling and waving to a young girl who stands on the other side of a river – most certainly the Rio Grande. The young girl is dressed in the traditional clothing and head covering of the Tehuana, a female cultural type associated with the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region of far southern Mexico. Through this image, Torrez links the U.S. Chicano population with residents of Mexico and extends Mexican cultural identity from the country’s border with Guatemala up into the United States – well beyond the country’s political boundaries. Two open and pleasant-looking bridges span the Rio Grand, connecting Mexican Americans and residents of Mexico and advocating friendship and camaraderie between them. 

The Montcalm County Intermediate School District, located in Stanton, Michigan, an agricultural area located north of Lansing and home to significant populations of migrant workers in the 1970s, contributed to the development of the coloring book as part of a migrant education project. The border and two small birds on the title page might appear entirely decorative, but they are an appropriation of symbols of Mexican – even indigenous Mexican – identity. They are Aztec eagles and they frame publication details, including a statement that the book was “Printed in AZTLAN” – the birthplace of the Aztecs. Like many Chicano initiatives of this era, Michigan’s activists found resonance in these Native references that seemed devoid of European influence or content. Through the eagles and references to Aztlan, they harkened back to an idealized indigenous past.   

Page 2 provides the children for whom this coloring book was created a brief, unbiased definition of “migrant child” in English and Spanish. It links the definition specifically to movement between school districts and to agricultural and food-processing industries, but not to race or ethnicity. The statement is a resource, or tool, to help migrant children consider and articulate identity as related to their mobile status.  

The inside of the coloring book recounts Chicano history by dedicating pages to each of the major indigenous groups of Mexico, depicting the events of the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs as well as highlights of modern Mexican history, and pointing to important issues of the day. 

A page entitled “Contribution of the Migrant Workers” argues that, since 1900, migrant farm workers and their labor served as the basis of the U.S. economic structure. “Vida del Migratorio” observes that, despite this contribution, migrant housing is often substandard. This issue received attention from the federal government at the time that the coloring book was issued, though improvements for laborers were often slow and uneven.   

Along with this source geared toward children, El Renacimiento produced a newspaper of the same name that focused on the Chicano Rights movement and was published in Lansing from the 1970s through 1990s. David Torrez and Edmundo Georgi, both contributors to this coloring book also work on the newspaper, El Renacimento, which can be consulted on microfilm here in the Hesburgh Libraries.

Related Previous Blog Posts:

Upcoming Events: September and early October

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

Thursday, October 7 at 4:30pm | Dante in America, Session V: Dante, Jazz, and American Modernism” by Joseph Rosenberg (University of Notre Dame), and “‘Was Then Your Image Like the Image I See Now?’ Dante’s Face in America” by Kathleen Verduin (Hope College).

The Dante in America lectures are sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies and the Devers Family Program in Dante Studies.

The fall exhibit “Bound up with love…” The extraordinary legacy of Father John Zahm’s Dante Collection is now open and will run through the end of the semester.

The current spotlight exhibits are The Ferrell Manuscripts (August – December 2021) and A Limited Edition Photo Album of the Sistine Chapel (August – September 2021).


RBSC is closed Monday, September 6th,
for Labor Day.

Recent Acquisition: A Frenchman in Constantinople and Lebanon

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

The Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired an extremely rare biography, François Marchetty’s La Vie de Monsieur de Chasteuil, Solitaire du Mont-Liban (Paris, 1666).

François de Gallaup de Chasteuil (1588-1644) was an orientalist who, after accompanying a French embassy to Constantinople, joined a Maronite hermitage in the Qadisha valley of Lebanon and lived the rest of his life as a hermit there, studying Sacred Scripture.

The work is a fine source for the study of the religious practices and ecclesiastical organization of the 17th-century Maronites, an Eastern Catholic Church that is part of the historical and liturgical heritage of Syriac Christianity. It is officially known today as the Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch.

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

Speaking about Catholicism in China with a Unified Voice

by Hye-jin Juhn, East Asian Studies and Metadata Librarian

The goal of the Catholic Central Bureau (CCB), founded by Archbishop Riberi in 1946, was to ensure that the country’s Catholic missions, which were independently run by various denominations, would communicate a unified message about Catholicism and the Catholic world view to the Chinese intellectuals and youths, who were increasingly being attracted to Communism. The CCB, in an attempt to fight off the image of Catholicism as an imperialist and non-scientific religion, actively translated and published European Catholic materials about social reforms. In June 1951, the Chinese government disabled the CCB’s activities and arrested and imprisoned many of its members.

RBSC has two editions of Tian zhu jiao qian shuo (天主教淺說) or An Introduction to Catholicism, authored/edited by Zhang Jiemei and published by the CCB.

Its first edition (106 pages), published in Beijing in 1948, introduces Catholicism “more frankly and objectively” (更坦白,更客觀的方式) than the existing publications about Catholicism. It begins with the questions: “What is religion?,” and “What is Catholicism?,” and discusses the doctrines, organization, rituals of Catholicism, and the Bible.  The sixth edition (156 pages), published in Shanghai in 1951, begins with the question, “What is human?,” addresses evolution theory, and explains the relationship between science and Catholicism. The final page gives the statistics of Catholic faiths by country. An example: Of almost 1.2 billion population in Asia, almost 30 million were Catholic; of the almost 463 million Chinese, approximately 3.5 million were Catholic.

Sample opening from the sixth edition.
References:

Wong, Yee Ying Bibiana. “The Catholic Central Bureau: A Short-lived Church Authority set up around the Time of the Communist Takeover of China.” Lumen: A Journal of Catholic Studies 5, no. 1 (2017).