THE MOST AUTHORITATIVE WORK ON EXORCISM

Thesaurus exorcismorum.

Cologne, Sumptibus haeredum Lazari Zetzneri, 1626.

£2,750

8vo. pp. (xxiv) 1232 (xlii). Roman letter, with Italic. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p, woodcut initials and headpieces. Title a little dusty, paper a bit softened, upper edge trimmed, affecting running title in places, water stain to upper outer corner of 2S-2Y 8 and (lighter) last few gatherings. A good copy in contemporary calf, double blind ruled, raised bands, wanting fly. Later autograph ‘J. Van Kempen’ to front pastedown, contemporary annotation (mostly illegible male names) to verso of last.

A good copy of the second edition of this important collection of six popular treatises on exorcism written by Franciscans, originally published separately in the 1580s-90s. First printed in 1608 and republished after the codification of exorcism in the ‘Rituale Romanum’ (1614), it became ‘the most authoritative collection of exorcisms of the Renaissance’ and ‘the undisputed reference for the ritual of Catholic exorcism’ (Maggi, ‘Satan’s Rhetoric’, 103). With their attraction for mystical practices—which even led to occasional accusations of black magic—Franciscans Observant were the monastic order keenest on exorcisms, as compared to the Dominicans, who generally occupied official, inquisitorial offices. The first work, ‘Practica exorcistarum’, was written by the Paduan Valerio Polidori. It begins with a theoretical section on the names of the devil, the exorcist’s behaviour and the nature of demons, proceeding to practical arguments on the phases of exorcisms, touching for instance on confession, the exorcist’s clothing, readings, blessings or the delivery of a house from the demon. The second and third, ‘Flagellum daemonum’ and ‘Fustis daemonum’, were the work of Girolamo Menghi (1529-1609), the most renowned exorcist of the time. ‘Flagellum’ focuses on the exorcist, providing instructions on his behaviour (patience and perseveration, formulas and gestures), the time and place for exorcisms, and whether they should be carried out privately or publicly. ‘Fustis’ devotes greater room to the nature and power of demons, including causing illnesses. The fourth, ‘Complementum artis exorcisticae’, was written by the Milanese demonologist Zaccaria Visconti (d.1600). Interesting are his sections on the physical signs by which one can recognise a person possessed by a demon, and a long list of herbal remedies in the form of oils, fumes, eye drops, etc., which can be given to ‘indaemoniati’ to make them expel the demons, for instance, by throwing up or evacuating. The fifth, ‘Fuga Satanae’, was a very popular manual by Pietro Antonio Stampa. Among the usual practical instructions, he added a section on the ritual burning of effigies (one of the demon, the other of the agent of the ‘maleficium’), accompanied by the reading of Revelation. The sixth, ‘Manuale exorcismorum’, by Maximilianus Eynatten, is the most practical, being almost entirely devoted to formulas, readings and adjurations for exorcisms, reported in full, and often several pages long.

Wellcome I, 6272a; BL STC Ger. C17 T301 (1608 ed.); Thorndike VIII, 543 (1608 ed.). Not in Caillet, Graesse and Bib. Esot. A. Maggi, Satan’s Rhetoric (Chicago, 2001);

L2611

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