NICOLAUS DE PLOVE [with] FERNÁNDEZ DE SANTAELLA, Rodrigo Tractatus sacerdotalis de sacramentis [with] Sacerdotalis instructio circa missam.

Logroño, Arnao Guillén de Brocar, 1503


4to. Two works in one, I) ff. 106 [92], II) 12 unnumbered ll., a8 b4. Woodcut vignettes of the crucifixion within typographic border to first t-p and without border to second and third, printer’s device to last of both, decorated initials. Slight marginal dust-soiling or very light waterstaining, a good copy, on thick paper, in contemporary vellum, traces of ties. Inscription ‘Permiss[us] anno 1634 F Philippe de Castro’ to t-p and early inscription inked to last of first, occasional early Latin annotation, 7 line ms. to verso of last of second part, marca de fuego of the Augustinians of New Spain.

The provenance of this copy can be traced to the library of an Augustinian monastery in Mexico, the marca de fuego of which remains unidentified. The intriguing C16 annotation inked to the last leaf of ‘Tractatus’ is a pseudo-medical ‘receta para lonbrices’ (recipe against worms), with Latin verse from Psalms 25 and 35 and Leviticus 23 which mentions ‘eating flesh’, ‘expulsion’ and the ‘cleansing of blood’. It concludes with the words ‘sator arepo tenet opera rotas’—an enigmatic charm dating back to late antiquity.

Augustinian friars were keen on the evangelisation of Hispanic and native missionaries, which included the knowledge of devotional and liturgical practice. Theological manuals like ‘Tractatus’ and ‘Sacerdotalis instructio’ were fundamental to educate clerics from such diverse backgrounds. Nicolaus de Plove (or de Blony or de Plowe, fl. 1434-38) was a preacher in Plock at the service of the bishop of Posen. Printed ten times before 1499 and widely circulated in ms. form, his ‘Tractatus’, commissioned by the Bishop Stanislaus I, was one of the most successful C15 manuals for clerics (‘Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie’). Rodrigo Fernández de Santaella (1444-1509) was doctor in theology, professor at colleges in Sevilla and Bologna and sometime at the service of cardinal Francesco Gonzaga. ‘Sacerdotalis instructio’ was one of several works he wrote for the instruction of clerics.

In addition to customary topics like the meaning of sacraments, the recitation of the mass or the procedure for exorcism, these manuals included detailed instruction on basic devotional practice. For instance, the annotator of this copy highlighted passages on how to recite ‘horae canonicae’ (matins and vespers). Priests should pray for their community in ‘honest places’, not whilst minding pigs and cows in the fields, or lying in bed or sitting on the toilet; as far as singing techniques were concerned, they should remember that ‘a voice without modulation is like that of a pig; one without devotion is like the voice of an ox’.

In 1634, this copy was examined by the renowned Mexican Augustinian Inquisitor Fray Felipe de Castro and marked with a ‘permissus’ to certify its suitability.

I) Only Illinois and UPenn copies recorded in the US.Palau 229113. Not in BL STC Sp.II) No copies recorded in the US.BL STC Sp., p. 78; Palau 89735 (mentioned as a second edition).
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