Baculus dæmonum coniurationes malignorum spirituum optimæ, & probatæ mirabilisque efficaciæ, cuius cognitio proprie spectat ad sacerdotem

Perugia,  apud Marcum Naccarinum, 1618


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. 564. A-2M8, N2. Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut Jesuit device on title, woodcut printer’s device on verso of last,  full-page engraved portrait of St Ubaldo defeating the devil, figure of a man in the background releasing evil spirits, very numerous woodcuts of biblical scenes and saints, in various sizes including a full page crucifixion, woodcut initials and head-pieces, typographical ornaments, purchase note ‘1600’ on rear fly with further notes in the same hand concerning exorcism, and on front fly, old triangular library stamp, rubbed out, with mss. shelf mark below, autograph ‘Mathurii’ on title. Light age yellowing and browning, mostly marginal spotting, minor occasional stains. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum, remains of ties, covers slightly creased.

Exceptionally rare first and only edition of this important and most interesting popular work on exorcism by the Lateran priest Carlo Oliveri, from the town of Gubbio in Umbria. Most interestingly it comprises his compilation of prayers, exhortations and apocalyptic scriptures intended to promote the cult of the revered local saint, Saint Ubaldo and his exorcising function. St. Ubaldo was a 12th century bishop of Gubbio, a small town in in Umbria, whose life was written by his successor. He does not appear to have enjoyed an extensive cult outside his native region, though devotion to the saint is very popular throughout Umbria, even today, but especially at Gubbio. The feast of their patron saint is still celebrated by the with great solemnity, with religious and civil processions reminiscent of the festivities of the Middle Ages. St. Ubaldo was renowned for his piety and particularly for his ability to banish demons. “At the solicitation of Bishop Bentivoglio, Pope Celestine III canonized him in 1192. His power, as we read in the Office for his feast, is chiefly manifested over the evil spirits, and the faithful are instructed to have recourse to him “contra omnes diabolicas nequitias”. Catholic Encyclopaedia. The work is of particular interest as it is most unusual in showing the practice of exorcism at a local level, practised by an exorcist from a very particular region, with its own very specific traditions; it is not a generic theory of exorcism, but a practical manual and a devotional work. It includes prayers to be said for the healing of children, as well as their release from demons. Its use of imagery, both in the language of the text and in the woodcuts is also most unusual and of great interest. The manuscript notes on the last leaves appear to be records of exorcisms, or perhaps further methods of exorcism.

This work also seems to be particularly rare; we have found only one copy recorded outside of Italian libraries, at the BNF, and there are only a handful of copies recorded in Italy. A rare and most interesting work.

Not in BM STC It. C17th, or Caillet.


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