Summer has arrived and once again visitors from the United States and from Ethiopia are coming to view and study the Gə‘əz manuscripts at CUA. These 241 Christian codices and 4 sets of codex quires are part of a larger collection of 836 materials, including 377 healing or magic scrolls as well as 218 Islamic Arabic manuscripts from Ethiopia. Almost all of this collection has been donated to CUA by Gerald and Barbara Weiner.
On Saturday June 25, 2022 Mr. Michael Tizale led a group of 20 students and parents from Debre Tabor Egziabher Ab Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Durham, North Carolina ደብረ ታቦር ቅዱስ እግዚአብሔር አብ የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤተክርስትያን on a field trip to see the Christian Ethiopic manuscripts in this library. Other recent visits have been made by members of the Ethiopian diaspora communities in Los Angeles, California and Columbus, Ohio, as well as the Washington Metropolitan area.
[Image 1: Mr. Tizale with Weiner Codex 446 (EMIP 2734) Acts of Gäbrä Mänfäs Qəddus, ገድለ፡ ገብረ፡ መንፈስ፡ ቅዱስ፡ Gädlä Gäbrä Mänfäs Qəddus; Homily of Gäbrä Mänfäs Qəddus, ድርሳነ፡ ገብረ፡ መንፈስ፡ ቅዱስ፡ Dərsanä Gäbrä Mänfäs Qəddus; Miracles of Gäbrä Mänfäs Qəddus, ተአምረ፡ ገብረ፡ መንፈስ፡ ቅዱስ፡ Tä’ämmǝrä Gäbrä Mänfäs Qəddus early 20th c. The codex is open to f.132v : image of Aba Samuel and a lion]
On July 2, 2022 Dr. Rodas Tadese Abebe and his sister Asegedech visited the collections with CUA alumnus Kessis-Netsereabe Taye. [Image 2: Dr. Rodas holding Weiner Codex 358 (EMIP 2393) Miracles of ’Äbunä Zär’ä Buruk, ተአምረ፡ አቡነ፡ ዘርአ፡ ቡሩክ፡ Tä’ämmǝrä ’Äbunä Zär’ä Buruk.1697]
While he was here Dr. Rodas filmed another presentation on the Gə‘əz manuscripts in the ICOR collections for audiences in Ethiopia and the United States [Image 3]. Dr. Rodas has done much to draw attention to these materials.
The Semitics/ICOR Library regularly receives requests to visit the collections. The library’s rooms house the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures. Visits can be scheduled for Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Weekday afternoon hours also can be arranged. Please contact the curator by email or phone to schedule a visit.
Dr. Monica Blanchard
Curator, Semitics/ICOR Library
035 Mullen Library
The Catholic University of America
620 Michigan Ave., N.E. Washington, DC 20064
I am glad to place this collection where it will be of so much benefit to students of history, yet I must confess I feel as if I were bidding good bye to friends who have become very dear to me…I have grown to love them for the many hours of pleasure they have afforded me.
-Msgr. Arthur Connolly to Rector Bp. Thomas Shahan, April 25, 1917
Anyone who spends time in the Catholic University Special Collections will soon become acquainted with the names of consequential donors and collectors. Ranging from Fr. James Magner and James Cardinal Gibbons to Mercedes McCambridge and Dorothy Mohler, there are several patrons whose legacies ripple through our collections and the campus. Few of these donors span the full scope of our collections, with their bequeathed items in the museum, rare books, and archives. But one Boston-area priest’s influence is present in the stacks of the archives and rare books, as well as in the paintings and sculptures displayed around campus – Msgr. Arthur T. Connolly (1853-1933).
Born December 2, 1853 in Waltham, Massachusetts, Connolly was the son of Irish immigrants. He was a product of public schools and later attended Boston College then St. Charles College in Ellicott City, Maryland. From there, he would go on to study theology at the Grand Seminar in Montreal, Quebec. On December 21, 1876, Bishop Édouard-Charles Fabre ordained Connolly to the Catholic priesthood. (He would be given the title Monsignor in 1926.)
Relocating back to his native Boston, Connolly would remain a lifelong parish priest. His longest tenure was as the inaugural rector for the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Jamaica Plains neighborhood in Boston, serving from 1892 until his retirement in 1931. But beyond serving his parish community, Connolly was an avid collector and traveler. On multiple trips to Europe and South America, he acquired numerous books and art objects. Of particular note was his collecting of ivory artwork, religious manuscripts and incunabula, and Irish history and early American publications.
But beyond merely collecting, Connolly was a generous benefactor. His love of knowledge was only surpassed by his love of libraries! From 1916-1932, Connolly served as a Trustee of the Boston Public Library, acting as the Library’s Board President from 1923-24 and 1927-28. (There is even a branch of the Boston Public Library named after him to this day.) His engagement was not limited to his local libraries, as he donated thousands of volumes to his alma mater, Boston College. And in 1915-16, Connolly began the first of many generous donations to Catholic University.
This first shipment to the University focused predominantly on books intended for the general reference stacks in the campus libraries. A second wave of materials arrived in 1918, which included medieval manuscripts, early printed incunabula, and chromolithographic prints as well as Renaissance-era artwork sculpted from ivory. Over the next 15 years, Connolly continued to send books, art, and papers to campus. By the time of his passing in 1933, the Connolly Library – as it was called at the time – had amassed approximately 16,000 titles located in its own designated spaces in McMahon Hall and Mullen Library. Among the many, many special collections that existed in the Library from the 1890s until the 1960s, Connolly’s stood out as among the largest and most eclectic.
In the early 1960s, these many collections would be reviewed and combined into the present Rare Books Library, which today is part of the broader Catholic University Special Collections. The Connolly Library remains a significant part of the collection, and his legacy can be seen by all visitors to Rare Books and campus. Researchers often encounter his handwritten notes and personalized bookplate in medieval manuscripts and early printed works, while visitors to campus may see one of the many donated sculptures or paintings he donated displayed in an office.
Today, there are thousands of unique theological, historical, and literary works in the stacks from Connolly. These include 30 medieval manuscripts, 11 incunabula, and over a dozen pieces of art displayed around campus.
Connolly passed away on November 10, 1933. As a beloved local figure, his funeral would see over 3,000 people in attendance, including delegates from the Catholic Archdiocese and City of Boston. His legacy continues in the many collections he donated to his home city’s institutions, as well as to the Catholic University community.
To learn more about our rare books and museum collections, please visit our website: https://libraries.catholic.edu/special-collections/archives/index.html
Questions can also be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Special thanks to the Boston Public Library and Catholic University Special Collections for providing documentation on Connolly’s life and collections.
Doutora em Literatura Brasileira, Universidade de São Paulo (CNPq/Fulbright)
Scholar-in-residence at the Brasiliana Guita and José Mindlin Library (BBM-USP)
Manoel de Oliveira Lima’s efforts in curating a personal library throughout the years dedicated to diplomatic service, teaching, and research built a collection of immeasurable value not only for Latin American Studies, but for Brazilian Literature in particular.
Thanks to a Fulbright fellowship, I had the privilege of consulting a number of books and pamphlets related to Brazilian History and Literature at the Oliveira Lima Library, which have greatly contributed to my doctoral investigation of indigenous and Afro-Brazilian representation in nineteenth-century Brazilian epic poetry. Among myriads of holdings, the consultation of A confederação dos Tamoyos (1857), the Souvenir of the “Land of Palms” [1892?], and the Discussão litteraria entre o notavel jornalista bahiano Belarmino Barreto e os Drs. Frederico Lisboa, Arthur Americano e Aquino Fonseca acerca das poesias de Castro Alves, por occasião das manifestações do decennario do desapparecimento deste immortal poeta (1902) were notably significant in establishing the rhetorical-poetic traditions and the socio-cultural practices that underlay the construction of Indianist and abolitionist works committed to the rewriting of national history in the nineteenth century.
A confederação dos Tamoyos is an epic poem in ten cantos by Domingos José Gonçalves de Magalhães (1811-1882) that focuses on Native Brazilians’ resistance to Portuguese colonizers in the sixteenth century and the demise of indigenous peoples following their confrontation with European armed forces. Its mythological narrative, commissioned by the emperor Pedro II, was part of the political project of the Second Reign, which entailed the forging of national symbols through artistic, historiographic, and literary productions. Published in 1856, A confederação dos Tamoyos is not only Magalhães’s most prominent work, but a paradigm of nation-building literature for subsequent poets. OLL owns the 1857 edition, a reprint of the 1856 editio princeps by the same typographer, the Empresa Tipográfica Dous de Dezembro.
Souvenir of the “Land of Palms” is an extremely rare pamphlet that presents the poem “Canção do Exílio” written in Coimbra, Portugal, in 1843 by Antônio Gonçalves Dias (1823-1864) and its English version, “The exile’s song”, translated by D. M. Fox in Bornemouth, England, in 1892. The unique material also contains a handwritten French translation of the poem [La chanson de l’exile], possibly transcribed by Manoel de Oliveira Lima himself. There is no mention of the translator’s name in the French version of the poem. Its pages are decorated with sepia illustrations of tropical plants, palm trees in particular, which evoke the Edenic landscape depicted by European travelers to the New World. In a nostalgic mood, “Canção do exílio”, published in “Poesias Americanas”–Primeiros Cantos, inaugurated a particular mode of representation of the Brazilian natural landscape and an emotive viewpoint from which to represent Brazilian indigenous cultures. The publication of “Canção do Exílio” as a souvenir in the late nineteenth century illustrates the interest of anglophone and francophone readerships in Dias’s work, a testament to the longevity of his Indianist writings.
Discussão litteraria is a compilation of texts first published in the Bahian periodical press in 1881 concerning the public commemoration of the ten year anniversary of the death of Antonio de Castro Alves (1847-1871), a republican and abolitionist poet, playwright, and activist. Though some commentators celebrated Alves’s poetry and political reach in his own time, others emphasized the limitations of his writing, which was prone to hyperbolic diction. From the late nineteenth century on, critiques of his work oscillated between praise and repudiation, both of which can be identified in this singular edition. In nearly 400 pages and three volumes, intellectuals Belarmino Barreto, Frederico Lisboa, Arthur Americano, and Aquino Fonseca discuss the (de)merits of Castro Alves’s work and the parameters of literary criticism as well as argue over the literary pre-eminence of various European authors, offering insightful remarks on the cultural atmosphere of nineteenth-century Brazil.
From books and pamphlets to manuscripts, the items related to Brazilian literature and culture in the Oliveira Lima Library (OLL) collection open up avenues of possibility for scholars of the Nineteenth-century and cast light on a complex period of Brazilian history.
Barreto, Belarmino, and Frederico Lisboa. Discussão litteraria entre o notavel jornalista bahiano Belarmino Barreto e os Drs. Frederico Lisboa, Arthur Americano e Aquino Fonseca acerca das poesias de Castro Alves, por occasião das manifestações do decennario do desapparecimento deste immortal poeta. 3 v. Typographia Genesio de Souza Pitanga,1902.
Dias, Antônio Gonçalves. Souvenir of the “Land of Palms”. Translated by D. M. Fox, n.p.,[1892?].
Magalhães, Domingos José Gonçalves de. A confederação dos Tamoyos; poema. Rio de Janeiro: Empreza Typographica Dous de Dezembro, 1857.
Working in the Special Collections stacks, you often see messages from the past. Notes from long-past authors or readers, who have scribbled in the margins or front leaves of books. Some notes are merely the thoughts of a reader or a dedication, but at other times, there is a note directed to you – the person holding this book – a warning from centuries past. A curse!
“Steal not this book my honest friend for fear the gallows should be your end”
So warns a handwritten note in a 1756 edition of The Works of Jonathan Swift. Written in the same hand as the note of its later owner, “Wm. Davis’s Book Coolmore [possibly Culmore, Ireland] May 2nd 1817…”, it stands out as one of the known curses that exist within the Catholic University rare books collection, but not a surprising find.
Modern special collections libraries have all manner of security features to protect their holdings from theft, flood, fire, and more. These protections come in many forms – from alarm systems, specialized access policies, disaster plans, etc. But one thing that is perhaps missing from today’s library is curses. A long-common practice, dating back millennia, book curses were another means by which creators and owners of books wished to protect their manuscripts. The labor-intensive process of creating books prior to the invention of the printing press made books an extremely valuable – if not vulnerable – piece of property. One could limit access to a collection or chain up the books, but why not add a final threatening note to ward off would-be miscreants?
While the curses could be written by the later owners of a book – such as is the case in early modern printed books – in the medieval period, it was often the scribes themselves who added a final warning to their texts. After spending countless hours copying a text, a scribe may have wanted to guarantee that his work would be respected and protected by adding a few lines of warning to any would-be book thieves or desecrators.
While these warnings could be simple pleas to one’s conscience, they could also call forth cruel punishments or God’s wrath (or the executioner’s rope) upon anyone who plucked or mistreated the work in question. But the spirit was the same – protect the hard labor and valuable material that constituted the book. In an age before the printing press – and even well past its widespread use in Europe – books were valuable and expensive objects that might not be easily replaced. The loss or desecration of one could snuff out a person’s only copy of a work or eradicate months (or even years) of hard work by a dedicated scribe.
Beyond a warning from the nineteenth century in our collection, we also hold a 1460s German Passionale, a collection of martyrology narratives. This handwritten manuscript from the late medieval period is cataloged with the note that it has a “book curse” on its first folio. No further details or translation were offered, so our staff went to work. (We had to know what actions we should avoid, lest we receive the curse…)
While it still remains somewhat of a mystery to us – and we welcome additional feedback – thanks to the dedicated work of History doctoral candidate, Nick Brown, and several graduate students*, we are much closer to identifying what spell may have been placed upon our staff. Here is an approximate transcription and translation:
Concordes ineunt Lybie deserta leones,
Sevaque concordi tygris depascitur ore.
Nec lupus ipse lupum, nec aper male vulnerat aprum;
Non aquilis certant aquile, non anguibus angues.
Soli homines proprio grassantur sanguine. Soli
Exercent trepidas per mutua vulnera cedes.
Dic quibus in terris, et eris mihi magnus Apollo,
Tres pateat celi spatium non amplius ulnas?
The lions go peacefully together into the deserts of Libya,
And the fierce tiger grazes with a docile mouth.
The wolf does not harm another wolf, nor does the boar harm another boar;
Eagles do not contend with eagles, nor does the snake contend with the snake.
Only humans go after the blood of their own kind. Only they,
Through wounding each other, bring about restless murders.
Speak, and you will be great Apollo to me, in what land
Does heaven extend no more than the space of three measures?
Our working theory is that the “curse” is a later addition, and not from the original scribe. While the date of the “curse” is unclear, we are are certain that the passage is referencing two distinct sources, circulating in the late medieval/early modern period. The first is a passage on animals,”taken from De vita solitaria et civili, a collection of poems attributed to Theophilus Brixianus. There was a fifth-century bishop of Brescia by this name, but it looks like all we know about him is that he was bishop and martyr. Perhaps the “curse” author wanted to open the work with a quote attributed to an early Christian martyr, as a link to the passion narratives in the text (and on the theme of the humans shedding blood)?
The last two lines of the “curse” are from Virgil’s Eclogue III, and is called the Riddle of Damoetas. The rediscovery of Virgil is a significant theme in the early Renaissance, suggesting a familiarity with the scribe to his works. While it may not be a “curse” per se, it does open up a fascinating window into the literary diet of its author, as well as the broader social milieu under which they operated. This passage may have been written during a time of early literary humanism and classicism in the Italian and/or German sphere. As the riddle itself remains unresolved, is the scribe offering his own answer to it in the context of the example of the passion narratives? Take your own guess!
So while we cannot say for sure how many of our books are definitively cursed, we think it safe to say that we will treat all our books with the utmost respect (and caution). Not just as professional curators of these treasures, but lest some vengeful reader/writer past unleash their curse upon us!
*In addition to Nick Brown, special thanks to Patsy Craig, Jon Dell Isola, Jane and Luke Maschue, and Alex Audziayuk. They double-checked the translation and aided in the research of the Passionale’s “curse”.
For more information on book curses:
Drogin, Marc. Anathema: Medieval Scribes and the History of Book Curses. Totowa, NJ: Allanheld & Schram, 1983.
O’Hagan, Lauren Alex. “Steal not this book my honest friend.” Textual Cultures 13, no. 2 (Fall 2020): 244-274.
More on Virgil’s riddle:
Campbell, John Scott. “Damoetas’s Riddle: A Literary Solution.” The Classical Journal 78, no. 2 (1982): 122–26. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3297061.
If you were around during the Golden Age of Hollywood, you would have heard of Mercedes McCambridge. She had an Oscar winning role as Best Supporting Actress in the 1949 movie All the King’s Men. She was nominated for the same award in the 1956 film Giant. If you haven’t seen either of those classics or are more into horror, you might have heard her voice the demon Pazuzu in the 1973 film classic, The Exorcist. Indeed, she was renowned for her voice. Orson Welles, who, incidentally, addressed Catholic University’s first class of drama students in 1939, called her “the world’s greatest living radio actress.”
McCambridge was also an artist-in-residence here at Catholic University from 1972-1973, lured, no doubt, by the University’s stellar drama program and its illustrious head, Father Gilbert Hartke (1907-1986). McCambridge once commented on Father Hartke’s sartorial tastes, which extended well beyond the Dominican robes of his order to include a silk Nehru jacket, a six foot long aviator scarf, a Russian fur hat and light blue canvas sneakers, among many other articles of clothing.
Most of these articles were gifts given to him by those who knew he loved clothing and costumes. And were it not for his extravagant tastes, we perhaps might not today have an absolutely precious piece of cinematic history: one of the dresses Judy Garland wore on the set of The Wizard of Oz. Articles in The Tower and The Washington Post allude to it, and rumors have swirled for years that Hartke had the dress, but it wasn’t until recently that Matt Ripa, Lecturer and Operations Coordinator at the Drama Department rediscovered it. I asked Mr. Ripa how he found the dress, and he responded that he too, “had heard rumors that Father Hartke was gifted Dorothy’s dress and that it was located somewhere in the building.” But “I could never get confirmation on exactly where it was located.” He explains:
I had looked in our archives, storage closets, etc. to no avail. I assumed it was a tall tale (of which many exist for Father Hartke). Our building is in the process of renovations and upgrades, so I was cleaning out my office to prepare. I noticed on top of the faculty mailboxes a trashbag and asked my co-worker to hand it to me. On the trashbag was a note for our former chair stating that he had found ‘this’ in his office and that he must have moved it when he moved out of the chair’s office… I was curious what was inside and opened the trashbag and inside was a shoebox and inside the shoe box was the dress!! I couldn’t believe it. My co-worker and I quickly grabbed some gloves and looked at the dress and took some pictures before putting it back in the box and heading over to the archives. I called one of our faculty members and former chair, who always told me the dress existed and that it was in the building to let her know that I had found it. Needless to say, I have found many interesting things in the Hartke during my time at CUA, but I think this one takes the cake.
As archivists, we were obliged to work on gaining additional documentation for this popular culture national treasure. Objects such as this one might be forged and passed off as authentic because of their cultural and monetary value. So how do we know the dress is the real thing? We do not yet know how Mercedes McCambridge got the dress, though we do know she was a Hollywood contemporary of Judy Garland’s and that they were supposedly friends. McCambridge was friends with many luminaries in the film and radio industry. Garland had died by the time the dress went from McCambridge to Father Hartke. Moreover, we have several photos of Father Hartke holding the dress, and the abovementioned articles from The Tower and The Washington Post referencing it. So the circumstantial evidence is strong.
Nonetheless, we reached out to experts in cultural memorabilia at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The Museum has several artifacts from the Wizard of Oz set, including a famous pair of Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers. Curator with the Division of Cultural and Community Life, Ryan Lintelman, an expert in the Museum’s Oz memorabilia, offered a wealth of information he’s gathered on the history of the film’s Dorothy dresses. There were several of them, though it appears that five, excluding the University’s dress, have been verified as probably authentic. All of the dresses have certain verifiable characteristics: a “secret pocket” on the right side of the pinafore skirt for Dorothy’s handkerchief, “Judy Garland” written by hand in a script specific to a single person who labeled all of the extant dresses in the same hand, for example. Apparently, the thin material of the blouse was prone to tearing when Garland took it off after filming, and a seamstress often repaired it before she donned it for the next shoot. The Hartke dress has all of these characteristics, including blouse tears where the pinafore straps sat on the shoulders.
Lintelman, along with his colleagues at the Museum, Dawn Wallace, Objects Conservator, and Sunae Park Evans, Senior Costume Conservator, paid us a visit to view the dress. Employees at the Museum are not authorized to authenticate objects like this one, but they suggested that the dress was consistent with the other objects from the film, and that the evidence around the dress was strong.
Dorothy’s Wizard of Oz dress, once the province of myth, is now a real object in the University’s Special Collections. We can now preserve it in proper storage in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment. By the way, if any of you readers have your own story connected to this dress, drop us a line!
Mary Jo Santo Pietro, Father Hartke: His Life and Legacy (Washington, D.C. The Catholic University of America Press, 2002), 201.
“Father Hartke: Kudos from the President, A Look At the Past,” The Washington Post, May 17, 1975, B1. The article alludes to “the original gingham dress that Judy Garland wore in The Wizard of Oz,” hanging in his closet.
McCambridge talks about her relationships with various Hollywood figures throughout her autobiography, and specifically mentions her residency at Catholic University in the early 1970s in her autobiography, The Quality of Mercy (New York: Times Books, 1981), see pages 107, 189 for mention of her year as artist-in-residence. See also, Richard Coe, “Backstage And Back In Town,” The Washington Post, September 9, 1972, C9.
Postdoctoral Researcher at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich – Department of Catholic Theology
The Oliveira Lima Library contains a collection of engraved illustrations showing Jesuit martyrdoms during the persecution of Christianity in 17th century Japan. Even though these illustrations were made in Europe in a propagandistic manner, they tell a story which is not well-known in the West: the rise and fall of Christianity in Early Modern Japan.
In 1549 Francis Xavier S.J. (1506–1552)—one of the first disciples of Ignatius of Loyola S.J. (1491–1556)—arrived at Japan’s southern Island Kyushu together with two other Jesuits and a former Samurai. What political context did the missionaries enter? Since the Ōnin War (1467–1477), Japan was no longer reigned by the emperor and a shogun (Muromachi Shogunate). Instead, dozens of small local rulers (daimyō and kunishū), different Buddhist monasteries fought for their supremacy. The three Great Unifiers Oda Nobunaga (1534–1582), Toyotomi Hideyashi (1537–1598) and Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543–1616) attempted to bring the Age of Warring States (sengoku) to an end and to unify the country under the reign of a shogun again.
The destiny of Christianity in Japan is neatly wedded into this Age of Warring States. Many Japanese local lords allowed the Jesuits to proselytize their subjects, because they benefited from the Portuguese trade and weapon technologies. They also perceived in Christianity an instrument against the influence of different powerful Buddhist sects. On the other hand, Christian missionaries were seen as representatives of foreign powers trying to increase their influence in Japan.
Despite this, the early Japanese missions were highly successful: about 150.000 Japanese were converted in 1583; 75 Jesuits organized the Japanese mission; there was a novitiate in Usuki, seminaries in Arima and Azuchi and about ten Jesuit residences throughout Japan. However, missionaries would be increasingly perceived as antagonists to the efforts to reach the country’s unity, especially after the donation of Nagasaki to the Jesuits in 1580. Thus on July 24th, 1587 Hideyoshi issued an edict that expelled the Jesuit missionaries. This first edict had only a limited impact on the Japanese mission, although it caused the confiscation and demolition of Christian buildings, such as the college in Funai and the novitiate in Usuki. From this moment on, the Jesuit mission focused on Kyushu.
The pragmatic politician Hideyoshi only reluctantly tolerated the Jesuits’ bidding out of an interest in and dependence on trade with the Portuguese. These economic relations could only be achieved with the help of the Jesuits. Tokugawa Ieyasu, who followed Hideyoshi after his death in 1598, tolerated the Jesuits’ missionary activities for economic reasons too, but once he issued a trade permit for the Dutch (1609) and the English (1613), he limited the Portuguese ships to the port of Nagasaki. There was no further need of tolerance for Christianity to get involved in the profitable European trade. And when in 1612 a court intrigue—involving Okamoto Paulo Daihachi and Arima Harunobi who were both Christians—was disclosed, Ieyasu’s aversion against the Christian missionaries increased considerably.
In 1614, the bakufu, or military government, announced the expulsion of all missionaries from Japan. This edict was renewed under Ieyasu’s successor Tokugawa Hidetada (1579-1632) in 1616. The great martyrdoms in Kyoto 1619 (88 martyrdoms), Nagasaki in 1622 (55 martyrdoms) and Edo, now Tokyo, in 1624 (50 martyrdoms) all attest to the serious commitment of the shogun’s government to this new policy. Between 1614 and 1650, 2,128 Christians died under the persecution, 71 of whom were European missionaries (1). The following illustrations from Antonio Francisco Cardim’s Elogios e ramalhete de flores… (1650) in the Oliveira Lima Library depict the martyrdoms of Emmanuel Borges S.J., Augustinus Ota S.J. (1572–1622) and Diego Yuki S.J. (1574–1636) by anatsurushi (2) and by smiting with a sword.
By 1643, after all of Japan’s missionaries were forced either to flee to China and the Philippines, were killed or apostatized, about one hundred missionaries had secretly entered Japan to maintain the religious, and especially the sacramental life of the Church. Between 1714, the year of the death in Edo of Giovanni Battista Sidotti (1668–1714), the last priest to enter Japan secretly, until the enactment of religious freedom in 1889, Christianity survived in the underground, disconnected from the Church hierarchy. Many of those Hidden Christians rejoined the Catholic Church in the late 19th century. However, down to the present day some Christian communities remain hidden in the underground, opting not to reenter the Catholic Church in order to keep their own religious identities in contact with the greater Japanese religious environment. (3)
(1) For a list of all Japanese martyrdoms see Boxer, Charles Ralph. The Christian Century in Japan (1549–1650). Berkeley: University of California Press, 1951, 448.
(2) Anatsurushi was a method of torture by facing the victim upside down in an Excrement-filled hole in the ground; a lid closed on the neck. Slow death made it possible for those who were tortured to renounce their faith and thus save their lives.
(3) Cf. Turnbull, Stephen. The Kakure Kirishitan of Japan. A Study of Their Development, Beliefs and Rituals to the Present Day. Richmond: Japan Library Press, 1998; Harrington, Ann M. Japan’s Hidden Christians. Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1993 and Pella, Kristian. The Kakure Kirishitan of Ikitsuki Island. The End of a Tradition. Uppsala: Uppsala University, 2013.
Beginning Monday, April 5, reserving a study space in Mullen Library will be easier, and the library will no longer be closing during the day for cleaning. Frequent disinfecting of all common, high-contact surfaces will be on-going throughout the day. Reservations will be available for all hours that Mullen Library is open. There will be no limitation to how many hours you may reserve, but please be courteous to other students and only schedule for times you realistically expect to use. Library users will be required to submit a reservation request at least 2 hours in advance of their selected time and reservations can be made 10 days in advance. For more information and to reserve a study space in Mullen Library, please click here.
Henry Hyvernat (1858-1941), the youngest member of the original faculty of The Catholic University of America, spent fifty-two years in distinguished service to The Catholic University of America. He was Professor of Oriental Languages and Biblical Archaeology (1889-1895/96) as part of the Faculty of Theology, and then Professor of Semitic Languages and Biblical Archaeology (1895/96-1910/1911) in the new School of Philosophy’s Department of Letters. He served as Professor of Semitic Languages and Literatures (1911/12-1940/41) in what is today the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures (School of Arts and Sciences). He is best known as a scholar of Coptic, the language of Christian Egypt.
The Hyvernat Papers are housed in Special Collections (#56 University Archives). They cover a span of some sixty-five years, from 1876 through and beyond his death in 1941. The growth and development of Coptic studies as a modern academic discipline can be tracked in the Hyvernat Papers. Series 1. General Correspondence [17 manuscript boxes = 7.33 linear ft.] is a “Who’s Who” of several generations of Coptologists and Orientalists. Series 2. Professional Correspondence. Morgan Collection [6 manuscript boxes = 2.5 linear ft.; currently on loan to the Semitics/ICOR library] contains much information about one of the major twentieth-century discoveries of ancient Christian documents in Egypt, the library associated with the Coptic Monastery of St. Michael near the modern town of Hamuli in the Egyptian Fayyum. These Papers relate to the purchase of the manuscripts by the American financier J. Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913), Hyvernat’s commission to work on them, and Vatican Library restoration work on the manuscripts.
The Research Papers of two other CUA Coptic scholars are housed in the Semitics/ICOR Library. (1) The Papers of Fr. Theodore Christian Petersen, C.S.P. (1883-1966) [3 filing cases = 24 linear ft.], Hyvernat’s student, colleague, and eventual successor in the Semitics department and the Institute of Christian Oriental Research (ICOR) after Hyvernat’s death. The Papers contain Petersen’s collaborative work with Hyvernat on the Coptic manuscripts of the Morgan Library & Museum and Petersen’s own studies of Coptic manuscript ornament and Coptic bindings. Included are the various manuscript drafts of Petersen’s unpublished study of Coptic bindings in the Morgan Collection. An edition of Petersen’s study of the Morgan Coptic bindings is expected this year. The Petersen Papers also include a 1935 manuscript copy of Hyvernat’s unpublished “Catalogue of the Coptic Manuscripts in the Pierpont Morgan Library” (452 leaves). (2)The Papers of Prof. Paulinus Bellet, O.S.B. (1913-1987) [2 filing cases = 15 linear ft.]. His own research was centered on the Coptic Bible and the Coptic manuscript tradition. Bellet served as Coptic editor for the Madrid Biblia Polyglotta. His Papers also include facsimile copies (microfilm and photographs) and transcriptions of Coptic manuscripts, and card file indexes.
Since March 2018 the Semitics/ICOR Library has partnered with the University Libraries Resource Management (Preservation) and then with the University Libraries Electronic Resources and Services to begin digitizing some of the Coptic research materials here. In April 2019 Katherine DeFonzo, GLP, Semitics/ICOR Library, took on primary responsibility for digitizing the ICOR collections.
Three Coptic resources are now available in Islandora:
This is CUA’s copy of the 1922 folio facsimile edition of the Morgan Coptic codices (Hamuli Collection) prepared by Hyvernat. Only twelve sets were printed. Two of the twelve sets were reserved for the Morgan Library (now the Morgan Museum and Library) and for The Catholic University of America. The remaining ten sets were distributed around the world to the Vatican Library, the Egyptian government, and to major American and European universities and libraries. Forty-seven of the fifty-six volumes of the edition include the Hamuli codices at the Morgan Museum and Library; four volumes include the Hamuli codices at the Cairo Coptic Museum; five other volumes include Morgan Coptic manuscripts not from Hamuli. Two of the twelve sets, those at CUA and at the Morgan Museum, include facsimiles of additional related leaves not present in the other sets.
The Bybliothecae Pierpont Morgan codices coptici photographice expressi… is housed in the Semitics/ICOR Library. Shelved nearby is Hyvernat’s working set of bound photostats (reduced size) of the manuscripts. Some of the photostat images appear to show evidence of binding details no longer fully visible in the facsimile edition.
(2) 1911 Galleys of a dealer’s catalog of the Hamuli Coptic manuscripts written by the French Egyptologist Émile Chassinat (1868-1948) with the assistance of Hyvernat. The dealer’s catalog was never published because the financier J. Pierpont Morgan (1867-1943) purchased most of these manuscripts in 1911. The two sets of galley proofs were extensively annotated by Hyvernat. They provide access to the manuscripts before the purchase, and before restoration work was done on the manuscripts. (286 images).
(3) Hyvernat’s unpublished catalogs of Coptic manuscripts in European libraries: Hyvernat. Coptic MSS Berlin  Berlin and London (95 images) , Hyvernat. Coptic MSS Vatican Library (167 images), Hyvernat. Coptic MSS Clarendon Press [1886-1887] (261 images), Hyvernat. Crawford and Curzon Collections [n.d.] (167 images), Hyvernat. Coptic MSS Bibliothèque nationale. Paris [ca. 1886; later entries 1931] (123 images), Hyvernat. Coptic MSS Bodleian Library [n.d.] (173 images).
Manuscript collections are not static. The physical condition, location, and local identification of individual items and collections may change over time. Hyvernat’s catalogs provide valuable information about these collections as they were when he visited them–a snapshot in time. In 2017 Mark Sheridan OSB, CUA alumnus and former rector and dean of faculty, Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm, Rome presented a public lecture on the value of Hyvernat’s 1886/1887 Clarendon Press catalog in tracking these manuscripts in the Bodleian Library (Oxford): “Hidden in Plain Sight: On the Trail of the Clarendon Press Manuscripts from Mullen Library (CUA) to the Bodleian (Oxford)” .
As part of a rare books course this past fall, I was given an assignment to choose any book I wanted and to “write its biography”. Since I wanted to be able to review and make use of everything I had been learning about how to conduct bibliography in my classes, as well as take advantage of all of the rare books available to me in the Oliveira Lima Library collection, I decided to take a closer look at the oldest book contained in it – a work titled Paesi nouamente retrouati. Et Nouo Mondo da Alberico Velputio Florentino intitulato (Images 2 and 3). Compiled by Fracanzano da Montalboddo and first published in 1507, it contains the first printed narrative of the voyage of discovery of Brazil by Pedro Alvares Cabral among other early accounts of early exploratory voyages by Europeans, and is a very significant resource for many patrons of the collection.
My main task was to examine the physical characteristics of the copy available to me, the digitized version of the1507 edition copy held by Oliveira Lima Library and available to the CUA community through Gale’s Brazilian and Portuguese History and Culture collection, in order to understand the processes involved in how it was made. I also compared this copy to another edition, which in this case was a digitized copy of a 1508 edition published as a facsimile in 1916 and held at Harvard University’s collection. Besides these two copies of the book, I also found useful information from outside sources including Ruth E. V. Holmes’ 1926 bibliographyBibliographical and historical description of the rarest books in the Oliveira Lima collection at the Catholic university of America, lists of known editions such as the one on the John Carter Brown Library website, Philip Gaskell’s book A New Introduction to Bibliography, anda 1917 article about Vespucci reprints in The American Historical Review. Going through this process allowed me to better understand where to go for bibliographical information and what to look for when studying books as artifacts, in order to gather clues about a book’s origin and the history of its development. This exercise also highlighted the continued importance of being able to physically, not only digitally, access books in library collections, as the information I was able to glean was limited by only viewing digitized versions. In order to give an idea of what kinds of information bibliographical research can uncover, as well as some limitations encountered, I briefly describe a few interesting things I discovered by analyzing the information I found through secondary sources as well as from looking at the physical traits of the copies themselves.
Circumstances of Compilation and Production
While common knowledge of the culture and time period in which Paesi was written, such as the atmosphere of competition between European nations to find and claim new lands, was helpful, researching also led me to detailed information about circumstances surrounding the book’s creation. Holmes’ bibliography contributed to my understanding of this a lot. According to her, writings by Jose Carlos Rodrigues reveal that a Venetian admiral and historian named Malipiero had connections to Venetian ambassadors in Madrid and Lisbon, who covertly passed on news and details of the voyage and discovery of Brazil mentioned within the text. One of these ambassadors had access to a letter from Pero Vaz de Caminha to King Dom Manoel of Portugal concerning the voyages, and based on the knowledge contained therein wrote a letter to Malipiero. It arrived too late for Malipiero to use it in the composition of his own works. However, Fracanzano da Montalboddo, a well-known sixteenth-century professor at Vicentia, Italy, was still able to use it to compile Paesi. This bit of information reveals that detailed knowledge about these exploratory voyages was not necessarily meant to be shared between different countries or meant for the average person, and hints that this knowledge about the Portuguese journeys contained in the text was probably not meant to be published, at least not at that time or in Italy. However, certain groups of people were seeking after it and produced the text anyway.
Quality of Materials and Unfinished Pages
Examination of the digitized images of the paper used in the production of the 1507 edition copy appears to indicate that quality was less of a concern as printing progressed. Some pages appear to be higher quality; these are mostly in the first half of the book and appear whiter in color, flatter, and without major flaws. Other pages, mostly in the second half of the book, have a more off-white color and have many imperfections such as warping that appear to have originated in the paper-making process (Images 4 & 5). Paper quality especially seems lower towards the end of the book, in section six. This variation in paper quality throughout the book could indicate that the creator or printer was running out of money towards the end of the printing of this book, and began to use any paper he could afford. It could also indicate that time became more of a concern, and that less focus was placed on having the best materials and more focus was placed on finishing the book the later into the process he got. Paper quality does not appear to be so varied in the 1508 edition copy, though the ability to see the paper closely in this version was more difficult due to the way the facsimile was made.
As mentioned before, this activity highlighted the necessity of accessing a physical copy of a book to thoroughly research some aspects of it or confirm certain details, which was at the time impossible due to Covid restrictions. A patron’s ability to analyze certain aspects of a book like paper, chain lines, format, ink, bindings, etc. are very limited without being able to hold and handle the object in person. This activity also brought to attention how often the bindings, covers, endpapers, and flyleaves of books are often not even digitized with other content deemed significant by whoever is doing the digitizing, leading to important information contained in those features being lost to those who only have access to digital versions. Good quality digitization, with the goal of providing patrons with as close a representation of the original object as possible, should include these features in the digitization process.
Similarly, something else interesting about the 1507 edition copy is that there are several pages in the second half of the book, especially in sections five and six, where the empty space intended to contain a block print of a large, decorative beginning letter is not filled with any design (Images 6 & 7).
Since this is something that would have been completed by hand after printing with the press, it is as if the printer was inattentive or rushed at this point in the process. When taken into consideration along with the decreasing paper quality mentioned above, it could indicate an instance of rushed production in which these details were not carefully checked before distribution of the final product. It could also indicate the importance of the written content over artistic details. It is unknown whether this is something unique to this individual copy, or something encountered in all 1507 edition copies. In contrast, the 1508 edition copy I looked at does not appear to be missing any of these images.
Different Perspectives Over Time
Reviewing the editions of this work that have been produced since the first one in 1507, also led me to realize how Paesi has remained relevant and important for scholars since the sixteenth century, but the format in which it is presented has changed. Unlike the 1507 edition and other early editions in which Paesi was published as its own standalone book, the 1916 version of the 1508 edition was created as part of a series of similar books, all containing Vespucci texts. The context of creation for this 1916 version is different in that the text is embedded within a body of similar information not originally associated with it, and the point of view of the creator and reader of this one is very different from the one that a creator or reader in 1507 would have had. The knowledge we now have of the events and results of the age of exploration contributes to how the information about it is now presented, consumed, and understood.
All of the conclusions made in this study are of course preliminary, but this was still a valuable exercise that taught me to start thinking as bibliographers do about the materials I encounter each day.