THE MIRACLES OF SAINT PATRICK

Discursus panegyrici de nominibus, tribulationibus, et miraculis S. Patricii Ibernorum apostoli, cum exhortatione ad perfectiones pro fide patienter ferendas, & apostophe ad Iberniam.

Douai, Baltazaris Belleri, 1617.

£3,750

FIRST EDITION. 12mo., pp. 213, (ix). Roman letter, some Italic. Small typographical ornaments on title, small woodcut initials and typographical headpieces, ‘Applicatus Bibliothecae Fratum minorum Cork’ in a slightly later hand on title page, C19th library stamp of the “Franciscan Friary, Liberty Street Cork” on front fly. Light age yellowing, title page fractionally dusty, minor repairs to the blank margins of the last few leaves, the occasional minor spot or mark. A very good, clean copy in C19th black morocco, covers bordered with a double blind rule, spine with blind ruled raised bands, fleurons gilt in compartments with title and date gilt lettered, inner dentelles richly gilt, all edges gilt, a little worn, in modern calf slipcase.

Exceptionally rare first and only edition of this ‘Panegyric on St. Patrick,’ published in exile at Douai, by the Irish Catholic titular Bishop of Cork, William Thirry. Thirry was born in Cork but forced into exile due to his faith and received his education at Douai, where he was ordained. This work on the life and miracles of Saint Patrick was clearly intended for an Irish Catholic audience and as a result was met with disdain by the ecclesiastical authorities in Ireland; the protestant bishop Ussher heaped scorn on the work, though he was later to use the Life of St. Patrick for such sectarian purposes himself.

In the late sixteenth century and seventeenth century, the history or the story of the life of St. Patrick was coloured by sectarian interest and the Church of Ireland was anxious to trace its origins to Patrick himself. Thus Thirry’s work, which aimed to reclaim St. Patrick for the Catholic cause, caused a great deal of upset and was on the receiving end of much criticism. James Ussher himself wrote much on Irish church history, although it was strongly polemical in tone. He stated in the introduction to his work, ‘A Discourse of The Religion Anciently Professed by The Irish and British’ (Dublin 1631) “but as far as I can collect by such records of the former ages as have come unto my hands (either manuscript or printed) the religion professed by the ancient bishops, priests, monks, and other Christians in this land, was for substance the very same with that which now by public authority is maintained therein, against the foreign doctrine brought in thither in latter times by the bishop of Rome’s followers. And those same followers he saw with all greediness embrace, and with a most strange kind of credulity entertain those lying legends, wherewith their monks and friars in these latter days have polluted the religion and lives of our ancient saints.”

The work is divided into three parts the longest of which concerns the miracles of Saint Patrick. It was edited by Fr. Patrick Donovan in Douai. This work is exceptionally rare. Shaaber gives two locations only, at Dublin, Trinity College and at the British Library and there is no copy recorded at auction by ABPC.

Not in BM STC Fr. C16th. Allison and Rogers 1250. Shaaber T16.

L2075

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