RARE DEVOTIONAL MANUAL FOR SOLDIERS
Manual de oraciones de muchos Padres Catholicos.Antwerp, en casa de Pedro Bellero, 1577
12mo. pp. (xxxvi) 210. Roman letter, sidenotes in Italic, most subtitles and initials in red. Woodcut arms of Cardinal Francisco Pacheco de Toledo to t-p, 57 half-page or smaller woodcuts (some repeated) of scriptural or liturgical scenes, evangelists and saints, small diagram, decorated initials and ornaments. T-p edges a little dusty, light age browning, minor paper flaw at upper edge of final ll., light water stain to upper outer corner of some ll. towards end, marginal foxing in places. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum, yapp edges, title inked to spine, lovely engraved armorial bookplate ‘I.B. Maes 1660’ to fly verso, C19 autograph ‘Sarah G. de la Cuesta’ at t-p head, C18 ms. ‘de vous ecrire monsieur j’ai l’honneur’ to rear fep, illegible early inscription above.
A remarkably well-preserved copy of this very scarce, lavishly illustrated pocket devotional manual in Castilian for the use of Spanish and Italian soldiers. ‘Rarisimo libro’ (‘Ciudad’, 47); USTC records only 1 copy of the 1574 edition (440438) and 9 of this second, though archival documents suggest there was also a 1573 edition. The little we know about Fray Hieronymo Campos comes from documents of the Inquisition which, in 1588, prohibited his ‘Manual de exercicios spirituales’. A note added that Campos—priest for the armies in Zealand and Brabant—translated these prayers from Latin into Castilian for the use of Spanish and Italian soldiers, and that this work was on sale for 3 reales. It was reprinted numerous times in Madrid and Bilbao (Perez Pastor 253), and is present in the ‘Index’ of 1612, though approved by the Dominicans in 1577. It begins with a calendar of movable feasts and how to calculate them, as well as saints’ days, followed by preparatory sections on the nature of and reasons for praying, and one’s physical and spiritual bearing during prayer. The spiritual exercises are organised by circumstance: e.g., upon getting up or going to bed, at confession, for moments of study at school or at home, in memory of holy events (e.g., crucifixion), before and during Mass, to request protection (with prayers to over 30 saints, illustrated with small woodcuts), litanies, prayers for penitence and forgiveness, for resisting the temptations of the flesh, for drought or floods, for one’s parents, and for a good death. Considering the intense practical use of these pocket books intended as devotional instruments during military campaigns, and easily discarded, this is a remarkable survival, in surprisingly good condition.
This copy was in the library of Jean Baptiste Maes (c.1667), Sieur de Laecken, near Brussels, knight of the Order of St Jacques, councillor and commissary for the royal territories and finance in the Low Countries, and gentleman of the Archduke’s Chamber (‘Nobiliaire des Pays-Bas’, 1269). Sarah G. de la Cuesta is recorded in Pennsylvania c.1894, when she donated money to local episcopal churches and missions (‘The Living Church’, 1894, 877).No copies recorded in the US. Wilkinson 2459; Pettegree & Walsby 6502; Belgica Typographica, 2037; Peeters-Fontainas 172; Simon Diaz VII, 3881; Perez Pastor, Bib. Madrilena, 253 (mentioned). Not in Brunet.