A discussion of interesting books from my current stock A site


Religion and Spirituality

A couple of Incunables

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Jacopo de Voragine,

Sermones de tempore et de sanctis et Quadragesimales

Lyons: [Jean Bachelier and Pierre Bartelot], 8 Aug. 1499        $15,000
Quarto in eight s, 8 x 5.5 in.
Three parts in the following order:DSC_0061
Sermones de sanctis, [*6] A-Z8 AA10 [200] leaves;
  Sermones quadragesimales.  [*8] aa-ll8 ([96] ;
 Sermones de passione et de planctu Beate Virginis a-c6 ([18] leaves (This copy has the same contents as the copy at the BIBLIOTECA NACIONAL MEXICO)
 This copy is bound in nineteenth century quarter calf over red paste paper boards: It it rubicated in red and blue through out, with the beginnings of books have initials which have been painted with gold and ornate flowers.
Jacopo de Voragine is best known as the author of a collection of legendary lives of the saints, which was entitled  Legenda Sanctorum  by the author, but soon became universally known as  Legenda Aurea  (Golden Legend), because the people of those times considered it worth its weight in gold. If we are to judge the Golden Legend from a historical standpoint, we must condemn it as entirely uncritical and hence of no value, except in so far as it teaches us that the people of those times were an extremely naive and a thoroughly religious people, permeated with an unshakable belief in God s omnipotence and His fatherly care for those who lead a saintly life. If, on the other hand, we view the Golden Legend as an artistically composed book of devotion, we must admit that it is a complete success. It is admirably adapted to enhance our love and respect towards God, to foster our devotion towards His saints, and to animate us with a holy zeal to follow their example. The chief object of Jacopo de Voragine and of other medieval hagiologists was not to compose reliable biographies or to write scientific treatises for the learned, but to write books of devotion that were adapted to the simple manners of the common people.  (CE)   Goff J200



133g    Bonaventura, Saint (Pseudo-) (1221-1274), now attributed to Jacobus Capelli Mediolanensis .fl. 1250

DSC_0057Stimulus Divini Amoris devotissimus a sancto Johanne Bonaventure editus cordium omnium in amorem christi Jesu inflammatius post eiusdem varias impressiones incorrectas ultimate emendatus et correctus per eximium sacre pagine professorem Magistrum Johannem quentin canonicum et penitentiarum parisiensem.

Paris: George Mittelhus 4 April ,1493                  $3,800

Octavo, 5.5 x 4 inches.  Fourth edition, a7 (lacking title leaf) -R8 (last two leaves blank and lacking). This copy is bound in paper boards.

Edited by Johannes Quentin, this work of medieval Christian mysticism is an exquisite and rare book. The work, formerly attributed to Saint Bonaventure and Henri of Beaume (d. 1439), is now considered to be the work of Mediolanensis, a “Franciscan theologian and mystic. Lector of theology of Milan and alleged composer of a Summa Contra Hereticos, against the Kathars of Lombardy, 52 Conciones Quadragesimale and the renowned educative Stimulus Amoris [the shorter version, of which there are more than 90 manuscripts] centered on the love of/for Christ and the imitation of and the passive contemplation and union with God. There is some discussion as to whether Jacobus Capelli (known for the Summa) and Jacob of Milan (the author of the Stimulus Amoris) are one and the same person.”

“The Stimulus Amoris is a composite devotional work consisting of an independent series of meditations on the Holy Passion, of still unidentified authorship, followed by a treatise on the spiritual life and contemplation by Jacobus Mediolensis, and ending with some anonymous meditations on the ‘Pater Noster,’ ‘Ave Maria,’ ‘Salve Regina,’ etc.

“The Stimulus appears in several versions, but the one that became very popular in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries is this longer work, known in England as the Prikke of Love. [By the fourteenth century] one or more scribes had added the chapters on the Passion to the treatise of Jacobus and had vastly amplified that author’s work. Jacobus’ short treatise consisted of twenty-three chapters, in no perceptible order, some of which embodied fragments from St. Bonaventure, St. Bernard, and Saint Anselm.

“A few chapters dealt with contemplation, but the great number were rather elaborately worded instructions on the ordinary ascetic life mingled with devotional outpourings, full of the popularized pseudo-Dionysian mystical expressions. Only two of the chapters and a prayer halfway through the work deal with the Passion, and these were later extracted and formed the basis of the first part of the Stimulus. By the end of the fourteenth century the manuscripts show no less than fifteen chapters on the Passion, and an additional one crept in by the time of the first printing by the Brothers of the Common Life in 1476-1478.”
(All citations Clare Kirchberger, The Goad of Love)
Goff B-965; BMC VIII 126DSC_0058

Henricus de Herpf (c. 1410-1477)

Sermones de tempore et de sanctis.


Speyer: Peter Drach, [after 17 January 1484, not after 1486]


Folio: 31.4 x 21.5 cm. 428 leaves, 48 lines, two columns. Collation: “1”8, “2”10, a-m8, n6, o-p8, q6, r-z8, A-L8, M10, N-Y8, Z6, AA6, BB-FF8. Complete. With all three blanks, a1, B8, and FF8, present. The BMC collation, calling for 8 leaves in signature n, is erroneous.


FIRST EDITION. THE SOLE 15th c. EDITION. Bound in contemporary blind-stamped calf over beech wood boards, with a hand-IMG_1985written vellum title strip affixed to the upper board; rubbed at extremities, without central and corner bosses and clasps. A wonderful, unsophisticated copy. The leather of the joints is cracked but the boards are firmly attached by the double rawhide sewing supports. Provenance: Benedictine monastery at Asbach; J.R. Ritman (BPH bookplate, #110, acquired from Rosenthal, 1985)

This is an extraordinarily fresh, complete example, rubricated throughout in red, with smaller initials and capital strokes. The leaves have very wide, clean margins throughout. Leaves d1-3, 6-8, N3 and 6 are printed on smaller (chancery) sheets, entirely untrimmed and with their deckled edges preserved.

IMG_1995With a neatly written, contemporary inscription to the recto of the first leaf, identifying the work: “Daily and Seasonal Sermons, Sermons for Saints’ Days, On Penance, and The Coming of Christ on Judgment Day.” This copy has only the most minor of faults, hardly worth the mention: a small smudge to leaf f8, a light dampstain to three leaves (A7-8, C2), slight worming at beginning and end, contemporary ms. note to first and small ownership inscription to second leaf. Housed in a custom box with the gilt label of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica.

IMG_2008There is no colophon, though Drach is the addressee of the introductory epistle (leaf 1b). Drach’s small, attractive printer’s device, modeled on that of Fust and Schöffer, appears on the final leaf of text.  Just above it are four lines of type that read:

“Reader, take these fruitful sermons of Henricus de Herpf

And grant that you be in the power of their hospitality

For if your library should receive them gently,

Then you may trust that they will give the great rewards of friendship.”

These lines are followed by a contemporary ms. note that appears to be a snide joke: “”Certain people find them to be tiresome.”


Peter Drach (d. 1504) operated an extensive printing and bookselling business from Speyer, situated on the Rhine, near Heidelberg in Germany. He participated in the Frankfurt and Leipzig book fairs, and his sphere of trade extended from Antwerp to Bohemia, and from Lübeck to Rome. Drach also sold books in the business centers Nuremberg and Augsburg, and in the university cities of Tübingen and Heidelberg. His most famous client was the humanist Jakob Wimpheling.

The Dutch mystic Henricus de Herpf (d. 1477) had a profound impact on later mystical writers, including Francisco de Osuna, who in turn influenced St. Teresa of Jesus.

From 1445, Herpf was a rector of the Brothers of the Common Life in Delft and, later, in Gouda, where he encouraged book production in particular. In 1450, on a pilgrimage to Rome, he joined the Franciscan Observance (the Capuchin reform) at the Convent of Ara Coeli. Upon his return to northern Europe, he served in several posts for the Franciscan Observants of the Cologne Province, including as provincial of the Province of Cologne (1470–73), then guardian of the convent of Mechlin in present-day Belgium, where he died in 1477.

“Herpf’s sermons concentrated on the explication of text and teaching through Scripture. The third sermon deals at length with drinking to excess. Perhaps because of his reputation as a great preacher, Herpf is mistakenly identified here as a member of the ‘praedicatorum’ (Dominicans). The mistake was caught during the press run, and corrected in print in some later copies to ‘minorum’ (Franciscans). This copy has the identification corrected in a contemporary hand, probably that of an employee in the printing shop.” (M. Ford, BPH catalogue).

Bibliographical references: HC 8527; GW 12225; BMC II, 493; Goff H-38; ISTC ih00038000; Simon, Bibl. Bacchia I, 118 & Gastronomica 839.



It seems to me as I look back at the books I’ve bought in the past few months I’ve become interested in Lexica , Alphabetum, Dictionaris and Thesauri..

I’ve bought Legal Lexica by Melonius 1654, Reyger 1697, and König 1695.   A mechanical lexia by Johann Georgius Mertz 1683. Two Aristotelian Lexica, by Saint Fleur 1565, and Bouchereau 1585, Two dictionaries of English Poets, Blount 1694 and Winstanley 1687. And now I have a Jesuit Alphabetum of the devil!  This one holds much Promise.

It is complied by the Bavarian Jesuit Johannes Niess. He authored about half a dozen  other books, mostly addressed to students, children and adolescents, .  His most popular work was the “Alphabetum Christi seu virtutes praecipuae quae adolescents” First published in 1618 and illustrated going through many editions.. Also in 1618 he wrote its Evil companion the: “Alphabetum Diaboli”  

    This books makes me think of a book I bought for my adolescent daughter for her birthday, Creative Cursing, a mix ‘n’ match profanity generator. Running Press 2009. We can be sure it was used this way.

Quite an interesting Image of Hell

$T2eC16JHJGQE9noMZM4rBRN,p-rE,!~~60_57Alphabetum diaboli seu vitia praecipua, quae adolescentem christianum perdunt. Juventuti in Gymnasiis Soc. Jesuversanti dicatum, et ad cautelam ac detestionem vitiorum propositum. Una cum appendice seu ode de aeternis inferorum suppliciis. Autore Joanne Niess Soc. Jesu. Editio sexta.

330G Niess, Johann.     1584-1634

Alphabetum diaboli seu vitia praecipua, quae adolescentem christianum perdunt. Juventuti in Gymnasiis Soc. Jesu versanti dicatum, et ad cautelam ac detestionem vitiorum propositum. Una cum appendice seu ode de aeternis inferorum suppliciis. Autore Joanne Niefs Soc. Jesu. Editio sexta.

Dilingae : Dillingen : formis academicis apud Joannem Federle(IS), Federle, Johann 1670         $3,400

Duodecimo, 13 cm.  A Sixth edition maybe?  A-X12

Bound in full original vellum, with two working clasps.

Niess was admitted to the Jesuits at the age of 20. He was a professor of Rhetoric at Dillngen and Munich as well as traveling to other German universities. His works are : Adolescens Europaeus ab Indo moribus christ. informatus. – 1629 ,Alphabetum Christi,  Alphabetum Diaboli. – 1618, De ortu et occasu linguae latinae. – 1627,Quatuor Hominis ultima. – 1626. despite this interesting output there is little written on Niess.
This Alphabetum, begins with a letter to the “Discipulos Societatis Jesu” in a typically flowery and scholarly  tone expounding the value of knowing the enemy> Next is a very interesting list of Authors used in the complation of the book, it is a who’s who of historical writers on the subject (11 pages) Then next is the Index
six pages alphabetically arranged of course of every where the Devil shows his head! :

Amor Mundi ,Blasphmia,Curiositas,Divitiarum ,Exemplum malum,Fausstus,Gastrimargia,Hypocrysis, Ingratus animus,Levitas, Mendacium, Negligentia,Otium,Pertinacia,Querimonia,Securitas,Temeritas,Voluptas, Zoiphilia

{yes Zoiphilia}

Time now for the “Programa Ad Christianum Adolscentem”after these two pages Niess dives in. for 467 pages then there is an “Appendix seu aeterna inferorum supplicia”

Caillet 8005 ;See De Backer/Sommervogel V, 1768  and DeBackerBibliothèque des écrivains de la Compagnie de Jésus: ou, Notices  Volume 2 page 439$(KGrHqZHJBQFEzSJqspSBRN,qWRyyg~~60_57

R.P.Joanne Niess Alphabetum diaboli

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