BURGOS, Pedro Alfonso de

BURGOS, Pedro Alfonso de De vita, & laudibus Mariae Virginis Libellus.

Barcelona, Claudio Bornat, 1562


FIRST EDITION. 8vo, ff. (iv) 94 (iv). Roman and italic letter. Printer’s device on t-p, woodcut historiated initials. Slight age yellowing, mainly marginal light oil spots and occasional foxing, fore-edge of one l. trimmed without loss. A few contemporary ms. marginalia. A good copy in C19 vellum over boards, spine with gilt rules at head and tail, gilt red label.

A good copy of the first edition of this rare commentary on the life of the Virgin Mary. The author, Friar Pedro Alonso de Burgos (1500-1572), is considered the most outstanding hermit writer of Montserrat (Spain). He was born in one of the islands of Zeeland (Netherlands), but his parents were originally from the diocese of Burgos. After completing his studies of theology at the University of Louvain, de Burgos spent some time at the service of emperor Charles V, until the Duke of Bejar – one of the courtiers of the emperor – brought him to Spain to be the tutor of his children. Later, after visiting the Montserrat monastery in Catalonia, he decided to stay and became a monk. Described by his contemporaries as penitent and assiduous, devoted in prayer and in all spiritual exercises, he abandoned the monastery in order to lead an eremitic life in one of the mountain hermitages. Here, he was often visited by important personalities, including King Philip II, Emperor Maximilian II of Austria and his wife, as well as the Marquis of Cortes, Juan de Benavides, to whom this work is dedicated. He exercised his spiritual influence outside of the hermitage through his writings, which consist in a series of ascetic treatises on the topics of solitary life, theological virtues, devotion to God and to the Virgin Mary.

During the Council of Trent (1545–1563), the veneration of Mary was strongly reaffirmed in opposition to protestant reformers, who, although honouring the Virgin, were questioning the validity of her cult. As a consequence, Marian devotion blossomed in the XVI century, and this short biography is a fascinating witness of this renewal and strength. It contains forty-eight chapters dealing with her life, attributes and divine qualities, followed by a four-leaf section at the end featuring a series of additional short texts regarding her. In particular, there is a letter from Dionysus Areopagitae to the apostle Paul, two letters exchanged by St. Ignatius and Mary, one from St. Ignatius to the apostle John, and a poem in praise of the Virgin by Petrus Comestor.

Only a small number of books were printed in Barcelona in the 16th century, and Claudio Bornat (fl. Barcelona 1556-75) produced only a few of these. An editor, printer, bookseller and writer of French origin, Bornat obtained great recognition from his editions in Latin, Spanish and Catalan.

USTC 335164, Palau 37347. Not in Adams, BM STC Sp. C16, Brunet, or Graesse. USTC and Worldcat record no copies outside Spain.
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