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.
Francis J. Weber provides a glimpse into the life of John Carroll, the first Jesuit bishop and archbishop of the United States and father of Georgetown University, In John Carroll and the Vernacular Liturgy, also summarizes Carroll’s views about vernacular liturgy.
Weber’s book is a limited edition miniature book. Special Collections copy is number 20 in an edition of 135. The book is 5.6 x 5.5 cm and is bound in paper boards covered with gold foil and a black leather spine. Affixed to the frontispiece is a postage stamp issued in 1989 by the Vatican to commemorate the bicentennial of the establishment of the Catholic hierarchy of the United States. The text is printed on Neenah Classic paper using a Chandler and Price Pilot Press.
Hesburgh Libraries has just purchased a rare pre-Reformation pamphlet, Avisamentum de concubinariis non absolvendis (Strasbourg, 1507), that features a scathing attack on the practice of concubinage (consorting with prostitutes) among the clergy. Usually attributed to Jakob Wimpfeling, a humanist in the circle of Erasmus, this is an interesting example of the role print played in the disseminating works that detailed clerical abuses in the years leading up to the Reformation.
Hesburgh’s copy is rubricated throughout and contains marginal annotations in two different contemporary hands. There are only four other known North American holdings of this edition.
Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired the first (and only) edition of De laude monasticae religionis opusculum (Paris, 1513) by the Flemish theologian Josse Clichtove (1472?-1543). This prolific Catholic apologist of the Reformation era wrote a spirited defense of monasticism. In this work, he attacked the anti-monastic views of the famed Christian humanist, Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536), although Erasmus is not mentioned by name in the text. This would be the first of numerous polemical exchanges between the two.
In addition to Notre Dame’s copy, there are only six other North American holdings of this title.
Manuscripts, incunabula, seals, maps, engravings, and printed books from the thirteenth century to the present highlight how the Holy Father has left his mark on society. These materials from RBSC, together with a great bull on loan from Saint Mary’s College, are featured in the new exhibit “Vestigia Vaticana.” The exhibit’s opening coincides with the conference The Promise of the Vatican Library, being held May 8–10, 2016, at the University of Notre Dame.
These materials are like the Vatican’s footprints. They provide a trail for us to follow to get a glimpse of the official acts of the Holy Father, of books that belonged to popes, of events the general public wasn’t privy to. Take a stroll through the exhibit to see these papal bulls, apostolic briefs, a papal conclave print, a ground plan of Rome, and various other pieces.