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.
The first three parts of the work examine the churches of the Greeks, the Armenians, and the Maronites. The fourth part includes several accounts of various contemporary events, such as the martyrdom of a Greek boy named Nicholas in Constantinople and the story of a French-sponsored seminary and college built for the education of Oriental Christians.
This book provides a fascinating look into the lives of Middle Eastern Christians living under the rule of the Ottoman Empire in the seventeenth century. We have identified only five other North American library holdings of this work.
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.
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.
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.
We recently acquired a manuscript German Catholic prayer book, made in Pennsylvania in 1799. Following is a short description of what we know about this particular manuscript book, and a comparison with a printed German Catholic prayer book that was published in Baltimore around the same time (1795).
This beautiful manuscript’s opening page describes its contents:
…sich befinden in Andachtübung Gott deß Morgens, und Abends, bey den Heiligen Meß, Beicht und Kommunion Gebettern zu sprechen. Wie auch unterschiedliche Getbetter zu Christo, und Maria, auf die fürnehmsten FestTage deß Jahrs. Und auch Gebetter zu dem Heiligen Gottes zu finden sein. Zu grössern Ehr und Seelen Trost. Geschrieben worden von dem Simon Kary im Jahr 1799.
..they are [for] devotional practice to pray to God in the morning and in the evening, at the Holy Mass, confession and communion prayers. As well as different prayers for Christ and Mary on the most noble feast days of the year. And prayers to the Holy of God can also be found. To greater honor and consolation to souls. Written by Simon Kary in 1799
Simon Kary wrote his prayer book in the style that was current in the “Pennsylvania Dutch” region, a typical German-American fraktur style, including beautiful floral decorations and lettering. The 136-page manuscript even has its original block-printed paper wrappers, which shows that people took some care of it for over 220 years. The small book certainly had use, as smudges, dirt, oil, and handwritten additions attest. Perhaps most poignant is the inscription from a 19th c. owner opposite the manuscript title page, which reads in translation: “Forget not your father and your mother, for they have died. My most honored father died on 17th March in the year of the Lord 784. My beloved mother died on 6th December in the year of the Lord 801. The 14th November in the year of the Lord 803. M.S. in the sign of the fish.”
Who owned this unique prayer book? First, Simon Kary in 1799; then “M.S.,” who added the note about parents inside the front wrapper by 1803; later there is an early-19th-century ownership signature of “Anna Holzinger” on the title-page, and a pencil signature of “Theresa” in the lower margin of the title page. It would be hard to tell the particular story of this manuscript prayer book with only these clues, but it is an exemplar of a tradition of writing.
Our bookseller notes that German-American Catholic fraktur prayer books are rare but not unknown; there is a nearly contemporary example in the renowned collection of fraktur at the Free Library of Philadelphia, which contains a “Himmlischer Palm Zweig Worinen die Auserlesene Morgen Abend Auch Beicht und Kommunion Wie auch zum H. Sakrament In Christo und seinen Leiden, wie auch zur der H. Mutter Gottes, 1787” (item no: frkm064000).
In 1799 the German population in the U.S. is estimated to have been between 85,000 and 100,000 individuals, the vast majority being Protestants of one stripe or another. German Catholics were a very small minority, and concentrated in Pennsylvania. A 1757 count of Catholics in Pennsylvania, both Irish and Germans, compiled from several sources, totalled only 1365 people. Pennsylvania German Catholics were served first by Jesuits sent from Maryland, where half the population was Catholic. German Jesuit missionaries established the mission of The Sacred Heart at Conewago (circa 1720) and Father Schneider’s mission church in Goshenhoppen (circa 1740). There was also a tradition of fraktur birth and baptismal certificates among Protestants and Catholics in this era. Nevertheless, the Kary prayer book now in the Hesburgh Library is exceptionally rare.
Our bookseller, Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts Company, stated that “There were no German-language Catholic prayer books published in the U.S. until the 19th century, so those wishing to have one before then had to have a bookstore import it or engender one in manuscript.”
However, we have a fine example of a German Catholic prayer book, printed in Baltimore in 1795 by Samuel Saur (1767-1820). Saur was a grandson of the Philadelphia (Germantown) printer Christopher Sauer (also Sower), famous for printing the whole bible in German in 1743. That 1743 bible was the translation of Martin Luther, and the Sauers were not Catholics. Printers such as the Irish immigrant Mathew Carey (arriving in Philadelphia in the 1780s) and later generations of Sauers, printed all manner of Catholic, Protestant, and secular materials, in a number of languages.
Samuel Sauer began his working life in Germantown, but eventually moved to Baltimore, where he advertised his unique-to-the-city skills of printing in English and German. One of his early Baltimore imprints was the Catholisches Gebät-Buch, published the year he set up shop in the city. Over the course of his 25 years in Baltimore, Saur printed a number of Catholic titles in German, as well as many Pietist works, almanacs, and newspapers. Certainly his location in Catholic Baltimore gave him the commissions for things Catholic, and the relative proximity of Baltimore to Pennsylvania gave him access to most of the German readers in the U.S.
The Simon Kary German prayer book of 1799 likely represents the middle to end of the era of the self-made manuscript for Catholic devotional purposes, while the Catholisches Gebät-Buch of Samuel Saur shows the arc of the German language printers accommodating the differing religious affiliations of the German immigrants, in order to make a living. There remain many questions to ask about the particular prayers contained in these two works, and questions about their Catholic readers.
Thanks to the Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts proprietors for sharing their research with us.
While many scholastic theologians and traditionalists feared the questioning of such traditional beliefs posed a danger to the faith, Lefevre and other humanists believed that the real danger was in allowing ill-founded legends to corrupt authentic faith and piety and prevented the reform of belief and practice that was needed in the church.
We have identified only two other physical copies of this second edition held by North American libraries.
Hesburgh Libraries has recently acquired an important early history of the Council of Constance (1414-1418), Johannes Stumpf’s Des grossen gemeinen Conciiliums zu Costentz gehalten (Zurich, 1541). The main purpose of this ecumenical council was to end the papal schism which followed in the aftermath of the end of the papacy’s extended removal to Avignon, France (1309-1377). The Council successfully ended this crisis by electing Pope Martin V in November 1417.
Another important result of the Council was the condemnation of Jan Hus (c. 1372-1415), the Czech reformer who was clearly influenced by the 14th-century English dissident, John Wycliffe. Hus attacked the moral failings of the clergy and questioned church teachings on a number of theological topics, including the Eucharist and the practice of granting Indulgences. This work examines his career extensively and reproduces many of his letters, as well as a number of contemporary accounts of the Council. It concludes with an exhaustive list of all those involved in the various conciliar sessions.
We have identified only six other North American library holdings of this title.
The collection includes portraits of such famous women as St. Scholastica, St. Catherine of Siena, and St. Teresa of Avila; among those also portrayed is St. Jane Frances de Chantal, whose spiritual director was St. Francis de Sales and who was still living when the book went to press. The fact that the women are often depicted with items and clothing appropriate to their role in the history of spirituality is of particular interest.
While the engraved plates include captions in Latin, the Table of Contents (Table des Image contenues au present Livre) for the book lists each women with a description in French. Here, as a comparison, are the first page of the Table and the first illustration of Mary, Mother of God, and “Founder of all Women Religious” (Fondatrice de toutes les Religieuses).
We have verified only three other copies of this title among North American library holdings.
We are happy to announce that Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired a very rare first edition, Bernardo Sartolo’s El Eximio Doctor y Venerable Padre Francisco Suarez (Salamanca, 1693), a biography of the highly influential early modern Spanish philosopher and theologian, Francisco Suarez (1548-1617). Suarez was a leader of the “Second Scholastic” period, which revitalized philosophical and theological thought in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries within the tradition of Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus and other medieval scholastics. Bernardo Sartolo (1654-1700) was a well known Spanish Jesuit and author.
A second edition of this title followed in 1731.
While a small number of copies of this edition may be found in libraries in Spain, we have located only two other copies in North American libraries.