DREXEL, Jeremias


DREXEL, Jeremias Zodiacus Christianus ... seu signa XII divinae praedestinationis

Cologne, Cornelius van Egmondt, 1632


24mo., pp. (6), 451 (i.e. 151), (5), without final leaf with printer’s device. Roman letter, little Italic; engraved title with blessing Christ sitting on globe, two standing angels with open book and two small emblems, 12 emblematic copper plates by Raphael Sadeler, tail-pieces with Jesuit monogram inside a heart; small worm trail in lower gutter of second half, tiny ink spot to fore-edge. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum, a bit stained, minor burn at head of spine and on rear upper corner.

Rare expanded edition of an intriguing Jesuit book of theology and Christian emblems, first published in 1618. Raised a Lutheran, Jeremias Drexel (1581-1638) converted very early to Catholicism and joined the Society of Jesus. Besides teaching rhetoric in Dillingen, he served as a preacher for 23 years at the court of Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria, and his wife Elizabeth of Lorraine. He was a prolific and successful writer of some 34 devotional books, widely read and translated.

In Zodiacus Christianus, Drexel presents what he considers to be the 12 signs of predestination, i.e. the lit candle, skull, pix (host container), plain altar, rosebush, fern, tobacco plant, cypress, two crossed lances, whip and switch, anchor and, finally, lute. Each of these symbols is learnedly elucidated and accompanied by an emblematic plate with a Biblical verse as motto (plate four and five were incorrectly swapped in pagesetting). The most unexpected sign adopted by Drexel is the tobacco plant, which is related to alms and other forms of charity on the account of its curative power. This curious work is dedicated to Prince Johann of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1578-1638), prominent member of the Catholic branch of the illustrious German noble family.

No recorded copies in the US.Not in Brunet, Graesse or Alden. BM STC Germ. 17th, D753; Sommervogel, III, 184:4; Landwehr, German, 229; Praz, Studies, 319.
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