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.

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.

Prayer Books of German Catholics in Eighteenth-Century America

by Jean McManus, Catholic Studies Librarian

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).

Kary, Simon.  Manuscript on paper, in German. Catholic prayer book. Pennsylvania, 1799. 136 pp. Original block-printed wrappers preserved inside; early inked annotations in German on inside of original front wrapper and elsewhere.

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 [1]784. My beloved mother died on 6th December in the year of the Lord [1]801. The 14th November in the year of the Lord [1]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.”

Catholisches Gebät-Buch. Baltimore: Samuel Saur, 1795.

Rare Books Extra Small
BX 2184 .C37 1795

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.

For further information, see the articles below:

The Catholic Church in Colonial Pennsylvania, by Sister Blanche Marie
(Convent of St. Elizabeth, Convent, NJ). Pennsylvania History, vol. 3, no. 4, October 1936, pp. 240-258.

Durnbaugh, Donald F. “Samuel Saur (1767-1820): German-American printer and typefounder.” Society for the History of the Germans in Maryland, vol. 42nd Report, 1993, pp. 64-80.

An Example of Early Modern French Humanist Scholarship

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has recently acquired an interesting example of early modern French humanist scholarship, Jacques Lefevre d’Etaples’ Iacobi Fabris Stapulensis De Maria Magdalena, & triduo Christi disceptatio (Hagenoae, 1518). In this work, Lefevre d’Etaples (c. 1455-c. 1536) contends that Mary Magdalene, Mary the sister of Lazarus, and the penitent woman who anointed Christ’s feet were three different women, an assertion that went against popular tradition up to that point.

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.

An Ecumenical Council to End a Papal Schism

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

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.

Recent Acquisition: Early Book on Women Religious Leaders

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

The Hesburgh Libraries has recently acquired a very rare illustrated volume entitled Images des fondatrices, reformatrices ou principales religieuses de tous les ordres de l’eglise (Paris, 1639). It features engraved portraits of 88 female founders of religious orders by the artist Michel van Lochom, an Antwerp native.

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.

Recent Acquisition: Biography of a Spanish philosopher and theologian

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

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.

Inquisition Edicts and Book Censorship

by Erika Hosselkus, Curator, Latin American Collections

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic limits our ability to handle physical collections, Rare Books and Special Collections strives to provide patrons with the next best thing — access to digital surrogates. Last week, we responded to a request for a high quality image of an Inquisition censorship edict, from Mexico, dating to 1809.

Inquisicion de México, Public edict regarding banned works, August 5, 1809. (Inquisition 401, recto)

This item is part of our Harley L. McDevitt Inquisition Collection, which contains manuals, edicts, trials, certificates, accounts of autos de fe, and other materials produced by and about the Inquisition in Spain and the Americas. Revisiting this document at the request of a patron provides an opportunity this week to highlight Inquisition edicts, a major component of our Inquisition manuscript holdings.

This edict is a large format document that would have been posted on a wall or door for public consumption. Edicts such as this one supplemented and updated the more voluminous indices of banned books published and maintained by the Inquisition beginning in 1551. This particular example is quite lengthy and also attests to the Inquisition’s perseverance into the nineteenth century and to its presence in Spain’s American colonies. It bans some 55 works and is signed at the bottom by Inquisition officials.

Titles banned include, of course, works pertaining to Lutheranism. Also on the list are historical works, especially those that are anti-monarchical such as Histoire des révolutions de France, by an anonymous author, and Recherches politiques sur l’état ancien, et moderne de la Pologne. Each of these titles treats the French Revolution. Inquisitorial concern over them speaks to the political situation in Spain, where Napoleon Bonaparte had recently placed his brother on the throne. Mere months after the issuance of this 1809 edict, armed uprisings in support of independence from Spain would begin in Mexico.

The edict also prohibits theatrical plays deemed to include seditious content, due in part to the fears regarding rebellion against Spain in the American colonies. This last category includes a piece entitled, “El Negro, y la Blanca,” (“The Black Man and the White Woman”) by playwright Vicente Rodriguez de Arellano, said to be revolutionary in spirit, with ability to engender civil, political, and moral ruin. It also includes “El Negro Sensible”  (“The Sensible Black Man”), a manuscript play said to encourage enslaved people to rebel against their owners. This play, by Spaniard Luciano Francisco Comella, indeed highlights the evils of slavery. The main character, an enslaved man named Catúl, asserts his humanity and tells his owner that the souls of black men and white men are the same. This work was the inspiration for the later and eponymous play by one of Mexico’s best known authors, José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi.

The Harley L. McDevitt Inquisition Collection has both a finding aid and a dedicated website which includes thematic essays that explore the different types of documents generated by the Inquisition, with references given for further reading. The collection contains over 150 edicts dating from the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Here are two additional examples of censorship edicts:

Antonio de Sotomayor, Banned books edict, June 30, 1634. (Inquisition 227, recto and verso)

Inquisicion de Mexico, Public edict regarding banned works, June 1655. (Inquisition 239, recto)

Recent Acquisition: The persecution of Catholics in Elizabethan England

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired an important work on the persecution of Catholics in England during the reign of Elizabeth I, De persecutione anglicana libellus, by the English Jesuit Robert Parsons (1546-1610). Parsons accompanied St. Edmund Campion on his mission to England in 1580, but while Campion was captured and eventually executed, Parsons was able to flee the country. He built a printing press in Rouen (France) and in 1597 became the rector of the English College in Rome.

This 1582 edition, published in Rome, includes two letters by the Jesuit martyr Alexander Briant, the first of which alludes to the interrogation of Campion.

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.