[VITELLESCHI, Mutio?]. Directorium in exercitia spiritualia. (with) Epistolae praepositorum. (with) Index Generalis.

Antwerp, I-II) apud Joannem Meursium, III) apud Ioannem Meursium, 1635 [i.e., Amsterdam, Daniel and Louis III Elzevir for Jan Schipper, c.1653-71].


8vo. 3 works in 1, pp. 128 (xxiv); 448 (viii); 288, without final errata as often, probably indicating first issue. Roman letter, with Italic. Separate t-p to each with woodcut vignette with St Ignatius crowned by angels. Edges a bit dusty, very minor toning, the odd spot, paper flaw to lower blank margin of N2 and small damp stain to lower blank margin of one gathering of second. Good copies in contemporary vellum, dusty, yapp edges, titles elaborately inked to spine in red and gold (oxidized) with floral decorations and IHS monogram. C18 armorial bookplate ‘D. Henr. Ios. Rega. Med. Doc. Proff. Prim’ and finely engraved C17 bookplate of Petrus Ludovicus Danes Casletanus to front pastedown, C19 ex-dono label of Antonius Joannes Philippus Wemaer, C19 book label ‘Bib. F.F. Min. Cappuccinorum’ and stamp of Capuchins’ library of S. Maria Angelica in Bruges to ffep.

Good copies of these forged editions of three major Jesuit works probably compiled by Mutio Vitelleschi (1563-1645). He was the Sixth Superior General of the Society of Jesus, and professor of theology, philosophy and logic at Roman Collegia. These three works gathered together important texts for the continuing education of Jesuits worldwide, as reliable, approved reference manuals. ‘Directorium’ is an introduction to the meaning, purpose and techniques for undertaking St Ignatius’s spiritual exercises and meditation, spanning the course of a four-week retreat, on Christ’s life and suffering. The ‘Epistolae’ is a collection of letters from major figures of the Order (St Ignatius, Aquaviva, Mercuriano, Borgia, Laines and Vitelleschi) to superiors and members on theology and the Jesuits’ spiritual mission. The third work, a detailed ‘Index generalis’ of the ‘Institutiones’, reveals the original context of these works, part of a 16-volume series called ‘Corpus institutionum societatis Jesu’. Separately printed, they were found as stand-alone or bound, as in this case, in a sammelband of two or three. Whilst the first edition of the ‘Corpus’ was published by Jan Meurs in 1635, the present copies were published two to three decades later by Jan Schipper in Amsterdam, without the license of the Society of Jesus. A distinction is the spelling ‘Joannem’ with a J on the t-ps of the first and second, as well as the woodcut vignette of St Ignatius with the Latin motto on all three. Two theories have been put forward. First, a copy of the 1635 edition was seized in England during the Cromwellian era and sent to Amsterdam (Sommervogel V, 81, add.); or second, according to a Jesuit’s account from the 1660s, copies of the original were found on board a Portuguese ship bound for Brazil, captured and taken to Holland during the Dutch-Portuguese War (1653-57) (Begheyn, ‘De Elzeviers’, 65). Because Schipper often employed other printers for his publications, and on the basis of a close analysis of initials and ornaments, this edition has been attributed to the press of Daniel and/or Louis III Elzevir in the years 1653-71 (Miert, ‘Een onopgemerkte’, 131-38; Impe, ‘Corpus’). The pirated edition was probably intended for the Low Countries, where the Jesuits were flourishing; the early ownership of this copy can indeed be traced to Leuven. An important sammelband with editions of special bibliographical interest for Elzevir collectors—unnoticed by Willems.

This volume was once in the library of Petrus Ludovicus Danes Casletanus (1683-1736), professor of theology, influenced by Scholasticism, at Leuven in the 1730s. The following owner, Henri-Joseph Rega (1690-1754), was a Dutch physician, rector at Leuven. His interest in Jesuit theology probably urged him to take sides against the spreading Jansenism, which led to a fall in student numbers. In the C19, it belonged to Antonius Joannes Philippus Wemaer, professor of Physics at Ghent, and to the convent of the Capuchins in Bruges.

I) Backer-Sommervogel V, 81. Not in Willems.II) Backer-Sommervogel V, 81. Not in Willems.III) Backer-Sommervogel V, 81. Not in Willems. P. Begheyn, ‘De Elzeviers en de jezuïeten’, in Boekverkopers van Europa, ed. B.P.M. Dongelmans et al. (Zutphen, 2000), 59-76; L. van Miert, ‘Een onopgemerkte Elzevier-druk?’, Het Boek, 1923, 131-38; S. van Impe, ‘Corpus institutionum societatis Jesu’, in Jesuit Books in the Low Countries, 1540-1773, ed. P. Begheyn et al (Leuven, 2009).
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