Upcoming Events: March 2024

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

Thursday, March 27 at 5:00pm | “The Actor’s Mind in the Russian Modernist Theater” a lecture by Alisa B. Lin (Ohio State University).


In the spring exhibition, Mapping the Middle Ages: Marking Time, Space, and Knowledge, primary objects bring to the fore the tension between literal and figurative arrangements of space, time, and knowledge during the Middle Ages.

This exhibition is curated by David T. Gura, PhD, Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts.


The current spotlight exhibits are Scripts and Geographies of Byzantine Book Culture (February – April 2024) and A Medieval Nun’s Choir Book (February – March 2024).


Special Collections is open regular hours during Notre Dame’s Spring Break (March 11-15), Monday through Friday, 9:30am – 4:30pm.

We will be closed on March 29, in observance of Good Friday, and open regular hours on Easter Monday.

Mapping the Middle Ages: Marking Time, Space, and Knowledge — RBSC 2024 Spring Exhibition is now open

Rare Books and Special Collections’ spring exhibition, Mapping the Middle Ages: Marking Time, Space, and Knowledge, is open and will run through July 31st. 

The tension between literal and figurative arrangements of space, time, and knowledge during the Middle Ages is brought to the fore through the primary objects that remain. Geography, whether real or imagined, manifests on the page to convey a variety of spatial arrangements: topography, pilgrimage, peripatetic liturgical procession, diaspora, and boundary marking. The materiality of medieval manuscript books expresses a similar reality: geographic colophons mark time and space, prayers localize devotion, and the communal memory of a journey commingled with hope and desperation survives in liturgical readings. Even the scattering of manuscript leaves through biblioclasty creates the boundary of what a book once was and what it has become.

Detail of a T and O Map, a world map based on Isidore of Saville’s description of the physical world. The O represents the earth and the T marks its three divisions: Europe, Asia, and Africa.
(cod. Lat. d. 7, f. 157v)

To map the Middle Ages is to journey through the space created by the objects and the individuals who used them. If we embrace a manuscript in the totality of itself, we form a new bond and continuity with those who have come before us. The manuscripts in this installation are drawn from the collection of the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library.

This exhibit is curated by David T. Gura, Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts Librarian. This and other exhibits within the Hesburgh Libraries are generously supported by the McBrien Special Collections Endowment.

All exhibits are free and open to the public during business hours. Exhibition tours may be arranged for classes and other groups by contacting David T. Gura at (574) 631-6489 or dgura@nd.edu.

Upcoming Events: February 2024

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

Thursday, February 1 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: “Leonardo da Vinci’s Way of Seeing Water. Wetlands, Mapping, and the Art of Painting” by Francesca Fiorani (University of Virginia).

Thursday, February 29 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: M.A. Students Presentations (University of Notre Dame) — This semester’s speakers are: Fabiola D’Angelo and Peter Scharer.


In the spring exhibition, Mapping the Middle Ages: Marking Time, Space, and Knowledge, primary objects bring to the fore the tension between literal and figurative arrangements of space, time, and knowledge during the Middle Ages. Geography, whether real or imagined, manifests on the page to convey a variety of spatial arrangements: topography, pilgrimage, peripatetic liturgical procession, and boundary marking. The materiality of medieval manuscript books expresses a similar reality through geographic colophons, regional markings of book production, devotional locals, and even the dispersing of manuscripts through modern-day biblioclasty.

To map the Middle Ages is to journey through the space created by the objects and the individuals who used them. The manuscripts in this installation are drawn from the collection of the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library.

This exhibition is curated by David T. Gura, PhD, Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts.


The current spotlight exhibits are Football and Community at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and A Warning Against Rum in Early America. Both spotlights will change out in February, check our website for more details in the near future.

Welcome Back! Spring 2024 in Special Collections

Rare Books and Special Collections welcomes students, faculty, staff, researchers, and visitors back to campus for Spring ’24! Here are a variety of things to watch for in Special Collections during the coming semester.

Spring 2024 Exhibition: Mapping the Middle Ages: Marking Time, Space, and Knowledge

The tension between literal and figurative arrangements of space, time, and knowledge during the Middle Ages is brought to the fore through the primary objects that remain. Geography, whether real or imagined, manifests on the page to convey a variety of spatial arrangements: topography, pilgrimage, peripatetic liturgical procession, and boundary marking. The materiality of medieval manuscript books expresses a similar reality: geographic colophons, the regional markings of book production, devotional locals, and even the dispersing of manuscripts through modern-day biblioclasty.

To map the Middle Ages is to journey through the space created by the objects and the individuals who used them. The manuscripts in this installation are drawn from the collection of the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library.

Curated by David T. Gura, PhD, Curator of Ancient and Medieval Manuscripts.

This exhibition is being held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Medieval Academy of America, which will be hosted March 14–16, 2024, at the University of Notre Dame.

Stop in regularly to see our Collections Spotlights

Fall Spotlight, continued through the end of January: Football and Community at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

This exhibit features a selection of sources from the Joyce Sports Research Collection that document and preserve the history of football at Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs). During the era of Jim Crow segregation, the vast majority of African American college students and student athletes attended HBCUs.

Many of the yearly gridiron contests between rival institutions developed into highly anticipated annual events that combined football with larger celebrations of African American achievement and excellence. The programs, media guides, ephemera, guidebooks, and other printed material on display document the athletic accomplishments, the celebrations, the spectacle, and the community-building that accompany football at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Curated by Greg Bond, Curator of the Joyce Sports Research Collection and the Sports Subject Specialist for Hesburgh Libraries.

December-January Spotlight: A Warning Against Rum in Early America

Displayed in the spotlight is a 1835 poster commemorating a Salem, Massachusetts minister’s attack on a neighbor for distilling and selling rum. This particular copy was partially hand-colored in watercolor, preserved with a cloth backing, folded, and bound into a pocket-sized leather cover. The broadside is part of Hesburgh Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections’ collection of prints, posters, and broadsides.

Curated by Rachel Bohlmann, Curator of North Americana at Hesburgh Libraries.

These and other exhibits within the Hesburgh Libraries are generously supported by the McBrien Special Collections Endowment.

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

Special Collections’ Classes & Workshops

Throughout the semester, curators will teach sessions related to our holdings to undergraduate and graduate students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College. Curators may also be available to show special collections to visiting classes, from preschool through adults. If you would like to arrange a group visit and class with a curator, please contact Special Collections.

Upcoming Events

Thursday, February 1st at 5:00pm | The Spring 2024 Italian Research Seminar and Lectures will begin with a lecture by Francesca Fiorani (University of Virginia), “Leonardo da Vinci’s Way of Seeing Water. Wetlands, Mapping, and the Art of Painting.”

Learn more about this and other Events in Italian Studies.

Recent Acquisitions

Special Collections acquires new material throughout the year. Watch this blog for information about recent acquisitions.

Early Printed Versions of Medieval Liturgical Commentaries in Rare Books & Special Collections

by Julia A. Schneider, Ph.D, Medieval Studies Librarian

Treatises on the Catholic Liturgy emerged as a genre of commentary during the Middle Ages (ca. 500-1500 CE), providing explanations for some or all aspects of the church’s religious ritual, including the Mass, the Divine Office, the Sacrament of Baptism, Ordination, and other rites, as well as church buildings and furnishings, such as vesture, candles (and their placement), bells, and the like.1 Although the reason for the treatises may have stemmed from necessity, whether due to the institution of reforms of liturgical practice or to the interest of particular bishops, the authors of many of these commentaries sought to provide theological background and spiritual edification for readers and preachers alike, aiding in the broader understanding of particular aspects of the Catholic liturgy. This deeper understanding provided for more fruitful meditation on the content and spiritual effects of the ritual. As with commentary on the scriptures in the Middle Ages, composers of these treatises on the liturgy provided their interpretations in multivalent senses, including allegorical understandings alongside (and sometimes instead of) historical or literal interpretations of the various actions, prayers, furnishings, and ministers involved in the ritual.

Although modern scholars have not published as extensively about the genre as they have about other medieval commentary types, existing manuscripts and library inventories indicate that they were important texts to be studied. Medieval authors tended to “recycle” the works of other authors by weaving the work of those earlier authors into their own commentaries; the manuscript transmission rate of texts from this genre, whether directly or through borrowing suggests a rather broad readership of treatises on the liturgy. That the dissemination of some of the most popular commentaries continued well into the print period, even as European ritual practices were reviewed and codified into a revised, unified Roman Rite,2 testifies to their use and usefulness.

Hesburgh Libraries Rare Books and Special Collections holds several witnesses to this early print tradition for liturgical commentaries. For this blog post, we will examine five of our printed treatises on the liturgy. Four of the five include versions of the commentary Rationale divinorum officiorum, which dates from the end of the thirteenth century and was written by William Durand, Bishop of Mende († 1296). Containing eight books, it provides encyclopedic commentary on all aspects of the rites of the liturgy, as well as church furnishings, vesture, and other topics. In addition to the Rationale, Durand compiled a Pontificale (the liturgical book including rites particular to the bishop) and composed the Speculum iudicale (Mirror of Canon Law), along with other works.

In composing the Rationale, Durand lifted text from commentaries by Pope Innocent III (1161-1216), John Beleth (1135-1182), Amalarius of Metz (c. 755-850), and others. It was an extremely popular work, as liturgical commentaries go! One hundred and thirty-nine manuscripts currently exist that were produced during the one hundred and sixty year period between the first manuscript version of the Rationale and its first printing.3 This may not seem like a lot of evidence of interest in the text by our contemporary standards, but given that the literacy rate was less than 20% during the Middle Ages,4 given that texts were copied entirely by hand during this period, and given the ecclesiastical audience for the text, this number is indicative of the status of a late medieval best-seller. Pointing to continued interest in Durand’s text into the modern period is the fact that forty-four printed editions of the Rationale–whole or in part–are known to have been printed between 1459-1500, with a total of one hundred and eleven different editions printed by the end of the nineteenth century.5

The earliest of the printed versions of the Rationale in Hesburgh Libraries’ holdings was printed by Jacques Huguetan in Lyon, c. 1503 on two hundred and twenty-three folios, and includes Huguetan’s printer’s mark. It contains historiated initials which were added after printing (mimicking the process of manuscript illumination), and some of those initials are missing.

The second version of the Rationale examined here was acquired as part of the José Durand Collection and was printed in Venice in 1509 by Peiro Quarengi. It provides a complete version of the text in one hundred and forty-seven leaves including both large and small initials throughout the text. These two represent two of the twenty-five versions of the Rationale printed between 1500-1519.6

Also from the Durand Collection, another of the later editions of the Rationale was printed in 1568 in Venice by Grazioso Percaccino. It contains three hundred and twenty-two leaves and includes a frontispiece; there are initials for each section as well, with some of them planned but absent.

The final version of the Rationale we will reference in this post was printed in 1581, also in Venice, by Giovanni Antonio Bertano. It contains three hundred and seventy-five leaves. In this version, William Durand’s text is appended by John Beleth’s twelfth-century treatise, Summa de ecclesiasticis officiis. Astrik L. Gabriel, O.Praem. (1907-2005), former director of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute, gave this volume to the Hesburgh Libraries.

These are but four examples of the early print versions of William Durand’s Rationale from the sixteenth century. The demand for new versions of this text began to dwindle after 1672.7 His name was all but forgotten until, during the mid-nineteenth century, a resurgence of interest in manuscript studies and a subsequent pastoral and liturgical renewal occurred that gave rise to the composition of new treatises on the liturgy and an increase in regard for medieval liturgical forms.

Reflecting the climate of reform, a revision of the Roman Rite, and a renewal of pastoral care during the mid-sixteenth century, we have an imprint that contains a compendium of liturgical description, directions, and commentary, first addressed to Salentin IX of Isenberg-Grenzau, who was Archbishop-Elector of Cologne at the time of publication. This volume was published under the name De divinis Catholicae Ecclesiae officiis ac ministeriis, in 1568 by Gerwin Calenius and Johannes Quentel in Cologne.

Melchior Hittorp is the compendium’s compiler, editor and author of his own commentary. After introductory material, Hittorp included a reconstruction of the Order of Mass (Ordo Romanus) and other liturgical rites. This is followed by liturgical commentaries in full or excerpted form by Isidore of Seville, Amalarius of Metz, Berno of Rheichenau, Walafrid Strabo, Bernold of Constance, and Ivo of Chartres, among others. Hittorp’s versions of several of these treatises have influenced twentieth-century scholars attempting to create critical editions of commentaries, particularly that of Amalarius of Metz. Most of the authors represented here were bishops whose commentaries were well-known already while they still lived. Their work was mined, either directly or indirectly, by authors of later treatises. Several of these authors’ works were written during or after the Investiture Controversy (1076-1122), in order to illuminate reforms to church practices. That theme is notable here, as Hittorp’s work of 1568 appeared only five years after the Ecumenical Council of Trent closed in 1563. It was convened in 1545, in part, as the church sought to respond with doctrinal and practical definitions to the critiques of the reformers like Martin Luther.8

All of these imprints show the vibrant life of the liturgy and the importance placed on understanding its spiritual reality in the medieval and early modern periods. Although the intent of the author or compiler is sometimes difficult to determine, particularly for those treatises that do not necessarily describe the liturgical practices of a particular location, the modern reader is left with a broader understanding of the actions, prayers, and furnishings used in the ritual, which ultimately helps them understand the medieval world a bit better. And interest in these texts is reviving. Several medieval liturgical commentaries have been recently translated into English and other languages. A partial translation of Durand’s text into English by Timothy Thibodeau, an alumnus of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute, is available by consulting the Hesburgh Library’s Catalog.

 

Footnotes

1. Roger Reynolds, “Liturgy, Treatises on,” in the Dictionary of the Middle Ages,  Joseph Strayer, ed. (NY: Scribner, 1989)  7: 624B.

2. The Roman Rite is the Latin Rite liturgy observed by Catholic churches in the West. Most European countries used the Roman Rite at the time of the Protestant Reformation (beginning 1517). In 1570, Pope Pius V promulgated the new, unified Roman Rite, later referred to as the Tridentine Rite or the Tridentine Mass, so-called after the Ecumenical Council held in Trent (1545-63) tasked with the reform and unification of the liturgy, among other things.

3. Menard, Clarence, “William Durand’s Rationale divinorum officiorum: Prelminiaries to a Critical Edition,” (Dissertation: Academia Pontificia Gregoriana, 1967), 2: 292. 

4. Ekselson, Tyrel C. “States, Institutions, and Literacy Rates in Early-Modern Western Europe,” Journal of Education and Learning (10. 2; 2021), 192. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1290524.pdf (accessed July 113, 2023).

5. Michel Albaric, “Éditions imprimées du Rationale de Guillaume Durand,” in Guillaume Durand, Évêque de Mende (v. 1230-1296) Actes de la Table Ronde du CNRS, Mende 24-27 Mai, 1990 (Paris: Éditions du CNRS, 1992), 183-4.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid, 185.

8. Roger Reynolds, “Liturgical Scholarship at the Time of the Investiture Controversy : Past Research and Future Opportunities,” The Harvard Theological Review, 71.1, 1978), 113-4. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1509778 (last accessed July 11, 2023)

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 Printing the Nation: A Century of Irish Book Arts  will run through the summer and close in late July.

The current spotlight exhibits are Language and Materiality in Late Medieval England (February – early May 2023) and Hagadah shel Pesaḥ le-zekher ha-Shoʼah – Pessach Haggadah in memory of the Holocaust (April – May 2023).

Rare Books and Special Collections is open
regular hours during the summer —
9:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.

RBSC will be closed Monday, May 29th, for Memorial Day and Tuesday, July 4th, for Independence Day.

Upcoming Events: April 2023

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

Thursday, April 6 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: “Democracy and Defeat: Morante, Moravia, and Malaparte in Capri, 1946” by Franco Baldasso (Bard College).

Monday, April 17 at 4:00pm | Special Collections Lecture: “Heinrich Jöst’s Warsaw Ghetto Photographs and the Challenges of Interpreting Holocaust Images” by Daniel H. Magilow (University of Tennessee, Knoxville). This lecture is co-sponsored by Hesburgh Libraries, Florence & Richard C. McBrien and Richard C. McBrien Endowment and by the Nanovic Institute for European Studies.

Thursday, April 27 at 5:00pm | Ravarino Lecture: “Pandemic and Wages in Boccaccio’s Florence” by William Caferro (Vanderbilt).

RBSC will be closed for Easter weekend, April 7-9, 2023.


The spring exhibit, Printing the Nation: A Century of Irish Book Arts, features selected books from the Hesburgh Libraries’ Special Collections that demonstrate the art and craft of the Irish book since 1900. The exhibit, curated by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, will run through the semester.

Tours of the exhibit may be arranged for classes and other groups, and additional curator-led tours are available at 12 noon on the following upcoming Friday: April 21.

The April spotlight exhibits are Language and Materiality in Late Medieval England (February – April 2023) and Hagadah shel Pesaḥ le-zekher ha-Sho’ah – Pessach Haggadah in memory of the Holocaust (April – May 2023).


Although ongoing library renovations will continue through 2023, Special Collections is no longer behind a construction tunnel!

Upcoming Events: March 2023

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

Due to renovation work, RBSC (and the west entrance to the Hesburgh Library) will be closed during Notre Dame’s Spring Break week, March 13-17, 2023.

RBSC staff and curators will be available via online channels.

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

Thursday, March 30 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: “Fortune, Limits and New Directions of Dante’s New Lives” by Elisa Brilli (University of Toronto)


The spring exhibit, Printing the Nation: A Century of Irish Book Arts, features selected books from the Hesburgh Libraries’ Special Collections that demonstrate the art and craft of the Irish book since 1900. The exhibit, curated by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, will run through the semester.

Tours of the exhibit may be arranged for classes and other groups, and additional curator-led tours are available at 12 noon on the upcoming Fridays: March 10 and 31, April 7 and 21.

An exhibit lecture, “The Changing Face of Irish Writing” by Brian Ó Conchubhair (Associate Professor of Irish Language and Literature, University of Notre Dame), will be held this spring in Special Collections, at a date that will be announced later.

The March spotlight exhibits are Language and Materiality in Late Medieval England (February – April 2023) and “That Just Isn’t Fair; Settling for Left-Overs”: African American Women Activists and Athletes in 1970s Feminist Magazines (February – March 2023).

Upcoming Events: February 2023

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

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

Thursday, February 23 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: M.A. Students Presentations (University of Notre Dame)

“Anybody here speak English? / Non dovete avere paura, non c’è ragione”:
Dubbing as Translation and Rewriting in Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna,
by Santain Tavella

The Infernal Arno: Mapping the Arno in Dante’s Hell
through the Lens of Purg. XIV,
by Toby Hale

Tuesday, February 28 at 3:30pm | Exhibit Lecture: “The Changing Face of Irish Writing” by Brian Ó Conchubhair (Associate Professor of Irish Language and Literature, University of Notre Dame). This lecture has had to be rescheduled—a new date will be announced later.


The spring exhibit, Printing the Nation: A Century of Irish Book Arts, features selected books from the Hesburgh Libraries’ Special Collections that demonstrate the art and craft of the Irish book since 1900. The exhibit, curated by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, will run through the semester.

The February spotlight exhibits are Language and Materiality in Late Medieval England (February – April 2023) and “That Just Isn’t Fair; Settling for Left-Overs”: African American Women Activists and Athletes in 1970s Feminist Magazines (February – March 2023).


Rare Books and Special Collections will be closed
from 11:30am to 2:00pm on Thursday, February 9, 2023.

Welcome to Spring 2023 in Rare Books & Special Collections

Upcoming Events: January

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

Thursday, January 26 at 5:00pm | Italian Research Seminar: “The ‘Literary Canon’ of Early Venetian Humanism (1374-1446) between the Classics and the Moderns “ by Rino Modonutti (University of Padova). Sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies.

Spring Semester Exhibits

The spring exhibit Printing the Nation: A Century of Irish Book Arts will feature selected books from the Hesburgh Libraries’ Special Collections to demonstrate the art and craft of the Irish book since 1900. The exhibit, curated by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, will open in January and run through the semester.

The current spotlight exhibits for are Hesburgh Library Special Collections: A Focus on W. B. Yeats (November 2022 – January 2023) and The Ladies Flower-Garden of Ornamental Annuals (December 2022 – January 2023). Later in the month, we will be installing the spring semester spotlight, which will explore changes in language within select Middle English manuscripts and early printed books from the 15th through 17th century (January – April 2023).

Classes in Special Collections

Throughout the semester, curators teach sessions related to our holdings. If you’re interested in bringing your class or group to work with our curators and materials, please contact Special Collections.

Recent Acquisitions

Special Collections acquires new material throughout the year. Watch our blog for announcements about recent acquisitions.