O’FIHELY, Maurice

O’FIHELY, Maurice Enchyridion fidei lucubrationibus

Venice, Boneto Locatello for Ottaviano Scoto, 1509


4to, 26 unnumbered leaves, a-d4, e6, f4. Gothic letter; large printer’s device, white on black, on last verso, floriated initials and diagrams; light foxing, mainly marginal, except for title page, very light waterstain to blank head of one central gathering. A very good copy in contemporary cream vellum, spine later backed with with vellum.

Second and more accurate edition of a philosophical and doctrinal work by the first Irish scholar to engage with printing, designed as a textbook for higher lay and religious education. Maurice O’Fihely, or Muiris Ó Fithcheallaigh (c.1460-1513), was an Irish Franciscan monk and acclaimed philosopher and theologian. Following studies in Oxford, he moved to Padua, where he became Doctor of Divinity and professor of philosophy. He also acted for some time as corrector of proofs to two well-known publishers and printers in Venice, Ottaviano Scotto and Boneto Locatelli. On account of his vast scholarship, he was hailed as Flos Mundi (‘Flower of the World’). In 1506 he was appointed as Archbishop of Tuam and took part in the first sessions of the V Lateran Council in Rome in 1512. He wrote important commentaries on Duns Scotus, Aristotle and Porphyry. The Enchyridion provides a detailed and complex insight into the foundations of the Christian faith, often employing a systematic and step-by-step way of thinking and presenting facts typical of scholasticism, with the Aristotelian system as the backbone. It is dedicated to Gerald FitzGerald, 8th earl of Kildare (1456-1513), the powerful and merciless Lord Deputy of Ireland, whose son, the later 9th earl, was arguably the first Irish collector of printed books.

BM STC It., 473; Adams, O 122.
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