ON THE NATURE OF TRUE RELIGIOSITY

Opus de virtute et statu religionis.

Venice, Bernardo Giunta and Giovan Battista Ciotti, 1609.

£2,450

Folio, pp. (88), 776. Predominantly Roman letter, little Italic. Decorated initials, title in red and black with large printer’s device showing personifications of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany surrounded by the cities of Siena, Lucca, Pisa and curiously Perugia; title slightly stained, tiny marginal wormholes in places, a few pages lightly browned or foxed, light dampstains to final gatherings. A good copy in contemporary plain vellum; skilfully repaired and rebacked, later endpapers.

Rare second edition, accurately revised and expanded after the editio princeps just published in Coimbra. Francisco Suárez (1548-1617), named by contemporaries ‘Doctor Eximius’, was a pious and highly respected theologian. He entered the Society of Jesus at Salamanca, where he read philosophy and theology and was ordained priest in 1572. He taught these two subjects all over the Iberian peninsula, including the leading universities of Alcalá de Henares, Salamanca and Coimbra, as well as, for a short period, in Rome. His fame was so great that Gregory XIII attended his first lecture in Rome, while Paul V invited him to refute the errors of King James I and stay at his side in the papal court. However, Philip II, then king of Spain and Portugal, sent him to the University of Coimbra to give further prestige to that ancient and glorious institution. It is also said that, when Suárez visited the University of Barcelona, the professors went out to greet him holding the insignia of their faculties. He was among the most eminent thinkers of the Second Scholasticism, alongside Domingo de Soto and Roberto Bellarmino.

De virtute et statu religionis, written under the auspices of Paul V, tackles the notion of true religion and deviations from it, including magic, simony and pagan cults. The second book is devoted to superstition, focusing on occult beliefs, witchcraft, demonology and the punishments for such practices. As usual, his argument is very clear and in-depth, bearing witness to his exceptional knowledge of the Classics, the Church’s Fathers and the heretical as well as ecclesiastical writers. This is an invaluable source for the students of the Catholic Church’s policy towards magical thought.

‘[Suárez] worked in a great variety of fields, including metaphysics, natural theology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of action, ethics, political philosophy, and law. In all these areas he made contributions the influences of which are so widespread and commonplace that they sometimes escape notice. Still, it is noteworthy that figures as distinct from one another in place, time, and philosophical orientation as Leibniz, Grotius, Pufendorf, Schopenhauer, and Heidegger, all found reason to cite him as a source of inspiration and influence.’ Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.

Rare. Only two copies recorded in the US (Columbia and Penn University).

Not BM STC 17th It., Cantamessa, Thorndyke or Calliet. Camerini, II, 502:96; Sommervogel, VII, 1670:9; Palau, VI, 550.

L2024

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