Seventeenth Century Dominicans Supporting the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

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.

Welcome to Spring 2022 in Rare Books & Special Collections

The University of Notre Dame, Hesburgh Libraries, Special Collections, and the COVID situation

Due to the spread of highly contagious variants of the COVID-19 virus, masks are currently required throughout the Hesburgh Library for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. This applies to all Rare Books & Special Collections spaces.

All visitors to campus are required to wear masks inside campus buildings at all times until further notice. Up-to-date information regarding campus policies is provided at covid.nd.edu.

Upcoming Events: January and early February

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

Thursday, January 27 at 4:30pm | Italian Research Seminar: “Scales of Responsibility: The Dark Side of Italo Calvino” by Maria Anna Mariani (University of Chicago). Sponsored by the Center for Italian Studies.

Wednesday, February 2, from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm | Celebration: 100 Years of James Joyce’s Ulysses: An event celebrating the centenary of James Joyce’s Ulysses will be hosted in Special Collections, with a display of Ulysses-themed treasures from the vault of the Hesburgh Library and the reading of short excerpts from Ulysses in several languages.

Spring Semester Exhibits

The spring exhibit will feature Medieval Bibles and biblical texts and is in celebration of the 75th anniversary of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. The exhibit, curated by David T. Gura, Ph.D., will open in January and run through the semester.

The spotlight exhibits for January and February will feature first editions of Joyce’s Ulysses and related items, in honor of the centenary of Ulysses publication.

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.

Happy Holidays from Special Collections!

Rare Books and Special Collections is open through this Wednesday (December 22, 2021). After that, we will be closed for the Christmas and New Year’s Break (December 23, 2021 through January 4, 2022). Special Collections will reopen on Tuesday, January 5, 2022.

This is the last blog post for 2021.
Happy holidays to you and yours from
Notre Dame’s Rare Books and Special Collections!


The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, with illustrations by Philip Hagreen
(London: Selwyn & Blount, 1923).
Special Collections, Rare Books Small PS 2429 .M5 N5 1923

A Seventeenth Century Look at Christians in the Middle East

by Alan Krieger, Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Hesburgh Libraries has just acquired a rare early modern title on the Christians of the Middle East, La Turquie cretienne, sous la puissante protection de Louis le Grand, protecteur unique de cristianisme en Orient (Paris, 1695), by “M. de La Croix”, secretary to the French embassy in Constantinople.

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.

Upcoming Events: December and early January

There are no events scheduled to be hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections in December 2021 or early January 2022.

Rare Books and Special Collections will remain open for our regular hours during Reading Days and Exams (Monday through Friday, 9:30am to 4:30pm). We welcome those looking for a quiet place to study.

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 will be closed during Notre Dame’s Christmas & New Year’s Break,
December 23, 2021 – January 3, 2022.

We will resume regular hours
(Monday – Friday, 9:30am – 4:30pm)
on Tuesday, January 4, 2022.

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.

The Pageant of the Celt

by William Shortall, Visiting Faculty Fellow, Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies

The program of the 1934 Pageant of the Celt is found in very few library collections. Printed programs tend to be quite ephemeral, but when they survive they give a great glimpse into an occasion. Visiting art historian Dr. William Shortall has provided an essay on the Pageant, contextualizing this interesting publication.

When the Irish government was invited to take part in the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, also known as the Century of Progress International Exposition, they were initially reticent. Tariffs and trade barriers meant there was little prospect of any financial gain. Eventually they decided to participate because ‘considerations such as those connected with national publicity and prestige might outweigh the more tangible considerations of trading advantage’. Essentially they sought a soft power and cultural diplomatic benefit from their presence at the event and sent a cultural and industrial display that was housed in the monumental Travel and Transport building. When the Fair organizers decided to run the event again in 1934, numerous countries—including the Irish Free State—did not participate and their places were taken by private concessions. However, there were a number of events that the Irish State did participate in during the second manifestation, the most prominent was an open air theatrical pageant representing Irish history, The Pageant of the Celt. Irish Consul General in Chicago, Daniel J. McGrath, was on the executive committee of the production.

The Pageant took place on the 28th and 29th August, 1934, at Chicago’s main sports stadium, Soldier’s Field, in front of large ‘marvellous’ crowds. Although the pageant is credited to Irish-American attorney John V. Ryan, it was most likely co-developed with its narrator Micheál MacLiammóir, to whose work it bears similarities. Some contemporary reports credit it solely to MacLiammóir. The Pageant was produced by Hilton Edwards and covered the period of Irish history from pre-Christian times to the Easter Rising of 1916 and it had almost two thousand participants. The imperfect resolution to the War of Independence with Britain in 1921 and the subsequent Civil War were still fresh in people’s memory and, as in the earlier MacLiammóir pageants, were avoided. Almost ninety years later, the upcoming centenary decade faces similar problems on how to commemorate these divisive events.

The Program describes the scenes of Irish history presented in pageant, starting from ancient mythical beginnings with the Battle of Tailté; to the emergence of a Catholic Nation and the ‘coming of [Saint] Patrick’; followed by ‘The Golden Age of Ireland’; a nation defended from Viking invaders by Brian Boru; followed by the country’s ultimate subjection by Britain, beginning with the marriage of ‘Eva and Strongbow’ followed by the ‘rise of republicanism’ and culminating in ‘Easter Week 1916 [when] Phoenix-like, the Irish nation rises from the fires of defeat to wage anew the centuried struggle for liberty’. The Pageant’s finale was a mass singing of ‘The Soldier’s Song, Irish National Anthem’. The elaborate Program published the anthem’s lyrics, it also featured 17 chapters relating to Irish cultural endeavours, including Irish music, the Harvard Irish Archaeological mission, and the Celtic Revival; and it contained messages of goodwill to Ireland from other Celtic peoples.

Rare Books Large GR 153.4 .I75 1934

The program itself has a richly decorated cover and small illustrations and decorated capitals throughout by Irish-American artist Vincent Louis O’Connor (c.1884-1974). The cover contrasts Celtic Ireland with modern Chicago. Round towers are juxtapositioned with skyscrapers, separated by clouds, both icons of their time and the spirit of their respective ages. A man and a woman in distinctive ancient Irish dress festooned with a Tara brooch, stand on Ireland’s green shore facing the Atlantic. These and Saint Brendan’s ship anchored, trademarked with a Celtic cross, signifying the Irish-American connection. This was an Irish pageant suitable for diaspora consumption, with its mix of the mythical and ancient, cultured and catholic, distinctive and unique, oppressed but not beaten, leading to phoenix-like revolution and rebuilding.

The artist O’Connor was born in Kerry and immigrated to Chicago in 1914. An art teacher, he began teaching in Ireland in 1904. In America he taught in the University of Notre Dame from 1915 to 1922 and contributed sketches to the university yearbook as well as an architectural rendering of Notre Dame’s proposed 50-year building plan. O’Connor held several exhibitions of his work which frequently featured prominent Irish personalities or landscapes. This Program connects Ireland, America and Notre Dame University and speaks to ongoing difficulties in reconciling Ireland’s turbulent past and how the events of 1922 can be commemorated a hundred years later.

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
.

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.