Irish Superstitions and Rituals

From Friday the 13th and black cats to tossing salt over one’s left shoulder to ward off evil spirits, superstitions and rituals are rooted in a mixture of religion, mythology, and folklore. They have the power to ward off evil, bring good luck, cure sickness, even stop people from performing certain activities on certain days.

However, every culture is different and what is unlucky in one may be lucky in another. Instead of Friday the 13th, it is Tuesday the 13th that is thought to be unlucky in Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Ecuador, Greece, Mexico, and Serbia. For Italy, it is Friday the 17th.

Where a black cat can be thought to mean bad luck, in Ireland it may lead to fortune as “several of the great lake serpents and water-cows of our Irish Fairy Mythology are supposed to guard treasurers; in some instances black cats are similarly employed” (Wilde, 98).

Some of Ireland’s other superstitions and rituals revolve around fairies and goblins, stating,

“…if you cast the dust that is under your foot against the whirlwind at the instant that it passes you, “them that’s in it” (that is, if they have any human being along with them) are obliged to be released” (Wilde, 130).

Then there are those that involve fire, most notably on days of celebration such as May Day and St. John’s Eve or Midsummer’s Eve:

“If a man was to perform a long journey, he leaped backwards and forwards three times through the fire to render himself invulnerable” (Wilde, 49).

“When the fire has nearly expired, and the dancing, singing, and carousing are over, each individual present provides himself with a braune, or ember of the fire, to carry home with him, which, if it becomes extinguished before he reaches his house, it is an omen of impending misfortune” (Wilde, 49).

“Walking around a burning flame during St. John’s Eve or Midsummer’s Eve spares one from being sick the whole year” (Putzi, 196).

Other curious Irish rituals include keeping spiders in a bag to be worn as a pendant or necklace to cure fever. However, if the bag is opened it will cause back luck. To remove a sty on one’s eyelid, the person should point to the direction of a gooseberry thorn nine times while chanting “Away, away, away!”.

But if things still go awry, you find your milk has curdled, you can always blame the fairies!

 

Other superstitions and rituals can be found in:

Putzi, S. (Ed.). (2008). To z world superstitions & folklore : 175 countries – spirit worship, curses, mystical characters, folk tales, burial and the dead, animals, food, marriage, good luck, and more. ProQuest Ebook Central https://ebookcentral.proquest.com

Wilde, W. R. (1852). Irish popular superstitions. J. McGlashan.

All Saints &; All Souls Days – Early Texts from the Rare Book Collection

The liturgical commemorations that distinguish the feast days of All Saints (November 1st) and All Souls (November 2nd) that are both important times of reflection and veneration by many adherents who believe in the spirit of Christianity.  Along with iconography and dedicated prayers, the most evident means of honoring the memories of those who came before us can be found in the bibliographic record created over time.  This encompasses various accounts, sermons, pronouncements, and legacies of innumerable individuals have recorded relevant declarations throughout the past several centuries and preserved for the ages.

Calendar of Holy Days for November Including All Saints and All Souls, 1723

Within the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center, a number of theological-based volumes have been collected by our past and present clergy that honor the prayers of the faithful along with titles on individual saints who have been memorialized over time.  All Saints Day (or All Hallow’s Day) is a time of dedicated solemnity to honor all blessed individuals who have attained canonization especially blessed individuals who do not have their own respective feast day within the calendar.  The start of formal celebrations in regard to sainthood possibly began in Antioch and the inspiration for present day commemoration of November 1st as the Feast of All Saints was first documented by 800 AD within such manuscripts as the Martyrology of Tallaght and Martyrology of Óengus from Éire and spread forward to Bavaria, Nothumbria (England), the Frankish Kingdom (a day of total obligation even prior to its emergence as part of the Holy Roman Empire) along its present-day presence.

First page of the Sermones de t(em)p(or)e et de sanctis: cu(m) omelijs Beati Bernardi Abbatis Clareualle(n)s(is) (1495)

When it comes to individual titles on those canonized located in our stacks, the oldest text devoted to a saint is a compilation of sermons and devotions created by Bernard of Clarivoux. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153 AD) was a native of Burgundy and spent his life as a monastic abbot within the Order of Cistercians (Trappists).  He later became the first Cistercian placed on the Christian Calendar of Saints and was canonized on January 18, 1174 and over half a century later was bestowed with the title: “Doctor of the Church” in honor of his contributions to the faith.  The volume that celebrates his legacy found within our collection is entitled (in the Latin): Sermones de t(em)p(or)e et de sanctis: cu(m) omelijs Beati Bernardi Abbatis Clareualle(n)s(is) ordinis Cisterciensis; cu(m) no(n)nullis ep(isto)lis eiusde(m) (English: Conversations about t [em] p [or] of the holy places [m] omelijs St. Bernard Abbot Clareualle [n] [is] a Cistercian [m] no [n] with no ep [this] issue eiusdë [m]) (Impressi Venetijs : Per Iohannem Emericu[m] de Spira Alemanu[m], sub anno I[n]carnatio[n]is D[omi]nice, 1495).  [Call Number is: BXZ890.B5377 1495]

Preface page to Sermones de t(em)p(or)e et de sanctis: cu(m) omelijs Beati Bernardi Abbatis Clareualle(n)s(is) (1495)

When it comes to the commemoration of All Souls Day (LatinCommemoratio Omnium Fidelium Defunctorum also known as the: “Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed” or the “Day of the Dead”) in celebration of the faithful who are counted among the deceased.  In terms of textual origins, the practice of praying for the corpus dates can be traced back as far as the Book of Maccabees 12:42–46.

Frontispiece of Coeleste palmetum variis officiis, litaniis, precibus, & psalmis poenitentialibus (1723)

Within our own library there are a number of works that relate to meditation and devotionals can be found within the book (in Latin) entitled: Coeleste palmetum variis officiis, litaniis, precibus, & psalmis poenitentialibus, &c. : nec non vitis sanctorum per annum, cum orationibus adjunctis : ad ubertatem & sacras delicias excultum, ornatum, munitum : opera (Coloniae Agrippinae : Sumptibus Petri Putz, 1723) (English: Sixto offices litanies, prayers, instructions, explanations of Psalms, meditation controversy, Sec. Nor does the holy lives a year with prayers in the circumstances, choice of Scripture and the Fathers admitting the evidence and opinion to the richness and holy . . . developed, given assumed.) [Call Number: BXZ2184.N34162 1723] written by Wilhelm Nakatenus, S.J.  Reverend Nakatenus (1617-1582) was a Jesuit priest, author and preacher who is considered “one of the important prayer book authors of modern times” by several theologians throughout the years. This particular edition is one of only six found within different libraries globally which adds to its uniqueness for those read this valuable work.

For more information on titles by and about various Saints (1300-1800 AD) found within Archives & Special Collections Center Catalog please consult the following link . . . https://setonhall.on.worldcat.org/search?sortKey=RECENCY&databaseList=&queryString=Saint*&changedFacet=year&overrideStickyFacetDefault=&selectSortKey=RECENCY&expandSearch=on&overrideGroupVariant=&overrideGroupVariantValue=&scope=wz%3A3042&subformat=Book%3A%3Abook_printbook&year=custom&yearFrom=1300&yearTo=1800&author=all&topic=all&database=all&language=all&materialtype=all

Additionally, a number of works about All Souls Day and its symbolism can be located within the University Libraries Catalog . . . https://setonhall.on.worldcat.org/search?databaseList=283&queryString=all+souls+day&clusterResults=false

For more information on Church Feasts, Saints, Rare Books, and other related topics please feel free to contact our Center by e-mail: Archives@shu.edu or via phone at: (973) 275-2378.

 

Sister Rose Thering – A Centennial Remembrance

“No one who ever brushes shoulders with Sister Rose can forget the experience.  Her unique charism, blending warmth with idealism, moves everyone she meets.  She is also a team player who serves on many teams, all with the same fervent ideals.”

This passage was written to summarize the legacy of Sister Rose Thering upon the receipt of an honorary degree bestowed by Seton Hall University in 2000. These remarks show that the esteem she was shown in life was profound and remains ever strong even a decade after her death six years later.  Her life and works are diverse and continuously honored not only on the campus, but also on a global level alike. Sister Rose (as she was affectionately known) was most widely noted for her advocacy of Israel and promoting the spiritual and educational importance inherent within Christianity and Judaism.  Her respect for each religious tradition entailed a perpetual celebration of the uniqueness found within each faith and fostering respectful dialogue between both religious traditions whenever possible.  This became one of her most lasting contributions to humankind.

Tribute to Sister Rose Thering, Memorial Card, 2006

Rose Elizabeth Thering was born on August 9, 1920 in Plain, Wisconsin and entered the order of Racine Dominican Sisters at the age of 16.  She later earned her academic credentials that included an undergraduate degree from Dominican College (1953), master of arts from the College of St. Thomas (1957), and a doctorate from St. Louis University (1961) before embarking on her long-standing work as an educator.

The doctoral dissertation written by Sister Rose focused upon the negative treatment of Judaism found in Catholic-produced textbooks.  The findings of this study were utilized by Cardinal Augustin Bea, a German Jesuit priest who during the Second Vatican Council used the work of Sister Rose for perspective that resulted in the 1965 document: Nostra Aetate (“In Our Age”), A Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions, which came down to the following major pronouncement in regard to the Crucifixion of Christ: “. . . what happened in his passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today”. As regarding how this issue was to be handled in catechetical instruction, it added, “The Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God.”

Text of Nostra Aetate, 1965

This adherence to Nostra Aetate in turn became a lifelong cause for Sister Rose where she advocated for Christians to understand and embrace this message of toleration and bring the principles from print to real life recognition.  Her activism resulted in fighting Anti-Semitism and becoming more involved in community initiatives where she was one of the founding forces behind the National Christian Leadership Conference Leadership Conference for Israel, United States Foreign Relations Committee, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) among many others.  In addition, Sister Rose became a charter member of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education where her work led to required instruction of the Holocaust and Genocide throughout all New Jersey Public School systems.  Her outreach was so widely known that a film about her activism entitled: Sister Rose’s Passion released in 2004 was later nominated for an Academy Award.

Even though she was a citizen of the world, Sister Rose made an important and lasting mark on Seton Hall when she arrived on campus in 1968 through her work as a faculty member in the College of Education.  She advanced to the rank of Professor and was elected Chair of Secondary Education before her official retirement in 1989.  Sister Rose further helped to enhance the Institute of Judaeo-Christian Studies, conducted over 50 tours of Israel and countless workshops on Judaism that helped lead to the origin of the Menorah Studies Program that led to the Graduate Department of Judaeo-Christian Studies founded in 1974.  She later became a Professor Emerita at Seton Hall and the Sister Rose Endowment Center named in her honors continues to the sponsor the annual “Evening of Roses” event where leaders in both the Jewish and Christian communities were honored for their contributions to mutual religious understanding.

 

 

 

 

Publications Celebrating the Work of Sister Rose Thering, 1974-2000

 

In addition to the memories and testimonials that remain, the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center houses the Sister Rose Thering Papers (MSS 0016) consisting of various works that show more detail on her life and work over the last century.  The following abstract provides an overview of this collection which is available for research consultation . . .

The Rose Thering Papers (1944-2005) consist of the professional and personal papers of Sister Rose Thering. The collection includes writings, correspondence, speeches, travel information, and subject files. Most of the material dates from Sister Rose Thering’s time in New Jersey working for the Institute for Judaeo-Christian studies, and documents her teaching and scholarly activities, her work for the state of New Jersey in creating legislation for the teaching of the Holocaust, her international activism, and her travel to gives talks to a wide variety of audiences. The materials also demonstrate the varied research interests of Sister Rose that are located in specialized subject files.

More details on this collection can be reviewed via the following link . . .

https://archivesspace-library.shu.edu/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&op%5B%5D=&q%5B%5D=thering&commit=&field%5B%5D=&from_year%5B%5D=&to_year%5B%5D=

In addition, the Archives & Special Collections Center along with the University Libraries of Seton Hall contains a number of books authored by and about Sister Rose along with various articles that highlight her research and varied pronouncements . . .

https://setonhall.on.worldcat.org/search?databaseList=283&queryString=Rose+Thering&clusterResults=false

For more information regarding Sister Rose Thering along with other figures related to the Judaeo-Christian Studies program and its history please feel free to contact us via e-mail at: Archives@shu.edu or by phone at: (973) 275-2378.

 

“Ever More” – Edgar Allan Poe & Rare Book Holdings

With the calendar pointing to late October, reading trends this time of year often focus on tales of mystery and mayhem connected with the observance of Halloween.  Counted among the most famous authors who represent this time of year so vividly is Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49).  Among his varied literary accomplishments, Poe is often credited with being the first to create and popularize the genre of science fiction.  Many of his stories touched on the darker side of human nature, but his writing style was unique and captured the public imagination.  Within an academic context, the short stories penned by Poe are still assigned by many professors as required reading for their students to study and learn from in turn.

Illustration from “Tales of Mystery and Imagination” (New York: Brentano’s, 1923)

When it comes to learning more about Edgar Allan Poe, biographical information and introductory information on some of his more famous writings can be found via the University Libraries Search page at: http://eds.b.ebscohost.com/eds/results?vid=0&sid=c0971814-1a94-41d1-b97c-87b36a01b8dc%40sessionmgr101&bquery=Edgar%2BAllan%2Bpoe&bdata=JkF1dGhUeXBlPXNzbyZ0eXBlPTAmc2VhcmNoTW9kZT1BbmQmc2l0ZT1lZHMtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d

Inside the Archives & Special Collections are different historical anthologies and special edition volumes that capture the written legacy of Poe in greater detail.  Included are the following titles under his authorship:  Eurkea, Marginalia; A Chapter on Autobiography (Boston: L.C. Page, 1884);  Poetical Works With Original Memoir (New York: J.S. Redfield, 1858);  Poems and Essays (Boston: L.C. Page, 1884);  Prose Tales (Boston: L.C. Page, 1884); and Tales of Mystery and Imagination (New York: Brentano’s, 1923) among other works of scholarship that have endured the test of time.

Illustration connected to the Poe short story: “The Raven” from “Poetical Works With Original Memoir”(New York: J.S. Redfield, 1858)

These and other works by Poe and different authors who specialize in suspense and other genres can be found through within our collection.  For more information about Edgar Allan Poe, Rare Book holdings, and research opportunities please feel free to contact us to arrange an appointment via e-mail: <archives@shu.edu> or by phone at:  (973) 275-2378.

Studying Ireland, Irish Resources in the Archives and Special Collections Center

With March upon us an increased interest in learning about the culture, history, individuals, events, and traditions associated with the Irish experience is both evident and welcome!  However, when it comes to finding resources related to both Éire proper and Irish-America alike we offer year-round opportunities to study a wide-range of subject areas related to, and inspired by Ireland proper.

The Archives & Special Collections Center at Seton Hall University features a group of printed volumes from the collection of Irish literary figure and noted book collector Michael Joseph (Meagher) MacManus (1888-1951) who wrote various nationalist-themed books and worked as editor of the Irish Press from 1931 until his death two decades later. This library includes over 3,000 titles dating from the seventeenth century to the present day and covers several different aspects of Irish and Irish-American life including culture, geography, literature, politics, biography, history and religion. Nearly all editions are printed in either English or Irish (Gaelach).  The core of this collection consists of acquisitions secured by MacManus during his lifetime, but arrangements have been made to add latter day works to what has become a continuously expanding bibliography.

Most of these volumes of the volumes found in the MacManus Collection are housed in our repository, but many non-rare titles featuring a connection to the Ireland and Irish-American experience in some manner are also included via our databases (including the JSTOR Irish Studies Collection – https://www.jstor.org/subject/irishstudies and the digital Irish Times and Weekly Irish Times [1859-2015] – https://search.proquest.com/hnpirishtimes/index?accountid=13793) along with various e-books or print volumes in our Main Collection and assorted Reference Collection holdings.  More information can be found via our Irish Studies Research Guide – https://library.shu.edu/Irish-studies

and complimented by one specializing on Irish Literature: Past and Present – https://library.shu.edu/irishlit compiled by Professor Gerry Shea.

Another collection donated by Rita Murphy (1912-2003), achieved status as one of the first female graduates of Seton Hall in 1937, prior to becoming a long-time director of the Irish Institute at Seton Hall during the 1950s and 1960s.  She also hosted a weekly Irish Music Program on W-S-O-U FM, South Orange and frequently appeared on local television.  Her collection of nearly 1,000 titles are complimented by other important works donated by prominent donors of Irish titles including the recently acquired Emmet-Tuite Library of volumes focusing on varied aspects of the Irish experience printed between from the 16-19th century, noted New Jersey based journalists Barbara O’Reilly; Jim Lowney and noted advocate Jim McFarland whose bequest centers on focused materials related to political issues in Northern Ireland over the past few decades.

Counted among our major subject collections featuring Irish subject matter include the reference papers of John Concannon (1924-2011) former author, publicist and National Historian of the Ancient Order of Hibernians whose voluminous source material on Ireland and Irish-America is especially detailed with particular emphasis on parades, noted political and military figures.  In addition, the Center houses microfilm editions of the National Hibernian Digest (1905-97), Hibernian Journal (1907-69), and Convention Proceedings of the AOH in America (1888-1990).  Various materials including ledgers, documents, and other items representing the New Jersey AOH have also found a central place within our collection.

When it comes to family ties and Irish-connected genealogy, the presence of church census data, select religious community information, educational files and various institutional and parish records are also found within this collection. Original and microfilmed nineteenth and early twentieth century sacramental registers from both current or closed parishes and various local cemeteries provide a wealth of data for those conducting genealogical research for their Irish and Irish-American ancestors either on-site or via mail inquiry. Supplementing these distinctive resources are bound or microfilm copies of Catholic Almanacs and Directories dating from 1851 onward.

Governor Richard J. Hughes greets President John F. Kennedy at Mercer County Airport – Trenton, NJ, c. 1962

In terms of manuscript collections individual figures with Irish surnames have also been featured prominently in the organization of archival collections featured at Seton Hall through University connections including such academics and former presidents as Bernard J. McQuaid (1856-1857 and 1859-1867); James H. Corrigan (1876-1888); James F. Mooney (1907-1922); Thomas H. McLaughlin (1922-1933); Francis J. Monaghan (1933-1936); James F. Kelley (1936-1949); John L. McNulty (1949-1959) and John J. Dougherty (1959-1969).  Other prominent collections include resource materials from the laity including Congressman Marcus Daly (1908-1969) of Monmouth County, the first Catholic Governor of New Jersey Richard J. Hughes (1909-1992); and Bernard Shanley III (1903-1992), political advisor to President Dwight Eisenhower to name a few.

For more information about these, and other resources, and/or to schedule a research appointment please contact Alan Delozier, University Archivist/Education Coordinator via E-Mail:  Alan.Delozier@shu.edu or by Phone: (973) 275-2378

St. Nicholas Illustrated – Christmas Stories & Beyond

Within the Rare Book Collection of the Seton Hall University Archives & Special Collections Center are a number of volumes from the St. Nicholas Illustrated series.  Although no longer published, St. Nicholas was a popular children’s monthly that achieved popularity during the late 19th century.

First published in 1873 by Scribner & Company publishers, this magazine dedicated its pages to featuring quality short stories, poems, and other creative writing examples about a wide-range of topics penned by novice and experienced writers alike including Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, and Joel Chandler Harris to name a few.  Pieces that saw print were often accompanied by stylized black and white illustrations and wood engravings that complimented the text.

During its peak years, single issues St. Nicholas arrived in mailboxes monthly and achieved an average subscription rate of 100,000 readers.  Publishers worked on other ways to attract further readership and show its aesthetic quality throughout its run.  This manifested itself through the option of purchasing bound copies for a particular year(s) with a specifically designed cover to better showcase the magazine as shown above.

After seven decades, the magazine ceased operations by 1943 as readership diminished during the war years, but the existing copies that have been preserved offer an illuminating insight into juvenile literature of another age.  Additionally, St. Nicholas and its Christmas-centered themes that were written in honor of the holiday and celebrating a wide-range of aspects that touched on everyday life is part of its lasting legacy.

For more information on St. Nicholas Illustrated and our Rare Book collections please contact us at: Archives@shu.edu or by phone at: (973) 275-2378.

 

U.S. Constitution – Examples From Archives and Special Collections

On September 17th, 1787, the United States Constitution was approved by delegates to a special convention with the goal of creating a set of reasoned legal standards for those who would be elected to lead and share in the welfare of their new nation.  Since its ratification, the Constitution has provided the framework for a democratic form of government that has distinguished domestic leadership and its impact on the American populace over the past 230 years.  In more specific terms, the content found in this document outlines the continued aspiration for shared and balanced authority between the three branches of government – executive, judicial, and legislative not only nationally, but also on the state and local level.  The original authors were also aware that changes might be needed over time, and to date there have been 27 separate amendments made with the first ten comprising the Bill of Rights and the rest covering different aspects of civil equality.

Since its introduction, the Constitution has not only been a part of secular society since its official release, but from an academic perspective this text has been studied widely and given rise to special courses and independent study that stands alone, or paired with various disciplines from law to sociology to history among others.  A major part of this rise in wider interest came after the American Revolution concluded with the need for schools, growing literacy rates, and spread of print media as a means of educational outreach. These incentives helped to create the means of inform the public about legislative developments that impacted upon the citizens of a new and developing country.

Banner from the first pubic presentation of the United States Constitution (September 19, 1787)

The first unveiling of the Constitution to the masses came two days after it was finalized through the efforts of John Dunlap (1747-1812) who was the founding editor of The Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser, the first daily newspaper in the United States.  This milestone gave rise to a series of printed books that offer full-text treatment along with details on the process of different sections were crafted, commentary on the subject matter, and significance of the final content depending upon each individual volume and its particular focus. The examples presented in this exhibit represent not only the first published copy, but also select early nineteenth century works that cover the words of first president George Washington, early amendments, and perspective from the New Jersey delegation representing the third state to officially ratify the Constitution.

The Federalist, on the new constitution. By Publius. Written in 1788. To which is added, Pacificus, on the proclamation of neutrality. Written in 1793. Likewise, the Federal Constitution, with all the amendments. 2 vols.  (New York: George F. Hopkins, at Washington’s Head, 1802)

Select bibliographic examples and relevant pages from our collection can be found not only within this post, but in the bound volumes located within our collection.  These include – The Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser, No. 2690, 19 September 1787 (Facsimile extract from: Farrar, Frederic B. This common channel to independence: revolution and newspapers, 1759-1789. (Garden City, NY: Farrar Books, 1975); The Federalist, on the new constitution. By Publius. Written in 1788. To which is added, Pacificus, on the proclamation of neutrality. Written in 1793. Likewise, the Federal Constitution, with all the amendments. 2 vols.  (New York: George F. Hopkins, at Washington’s Head, 1802); and Eliott, Jonathan. The debates in the several state conventions on the adoption of the Federal Constitution, as recommended by the general convention at Philadelphia, in 1787. Together with the Journal of the Federal Convention, Luther Martin’s letter, Yate’s minutes, Congressional opinions, Virginia and Kentucky resolutions of ’98-’99, and other illustrations of the Constitution / collected and revised from contemporary publications by Jonathan Elliot. Published under the sanction of Congress. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1836)

In addition to these aforementioned works, further information on the United States Constitution and resources related to this subject area are accessible via the University Libraries through the following link –

U.S. Constitution – University Libraries Resources

More detail on the titles featured in this exhibit and additional volumes found within the Archives & Special Collections Center related to the United States Constitution can be referenced here –

U.S. Constitution – Archives & Special Collections Resources

  • Examples from our collection will be on exhibit through September, 2018 in the First Floor foyer of Walsh Library located across from the stairs and elevator.

For additional background on the United States Constitution and questions about relevant holdings and other research topics please feel free to contact us at – archives@shu.edu or (973) 761-9476.

 

Douai-Rheims Bible – Revolutionary Catholic Text in Context

Counted among the earliest and most influential volumes found in our Rare Book Collection is the Douai-Rheims Bible which is the English language translation of scripture designed specifically for Catholic readership from the original Latin Vulgate that was created by theologian and historian Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus, or Jerome (345-420 AD), the present day patron saint of translators and librarians.
The enduring title for this work comes from the geographical connections to the adapted work hosted by the English University at Douai (Northern France) and Reims, France where the Old Testament and New Testament were evaluated from the translations made by St. Jerome centuries earlier.  The first mass published volume was created in 1582 which featured the New Testament proper.  This served as a prelude to the companion Old Testament version that was published in two volumes between 1609-10 by the University of Douai.  This particular compilation illustrated here encompasses the Books of Genesis to Job (first volume) and transitions to the Psalms, Machabees, and Apocrypha of the Vulgate (second volume) and includes source notes on the translation process via the Hebrew and Greek versions of the Latin Bible.
With a proliferation of Protestant-created bibles including the King James version (1604-11) and many earlier examples from the 16th century, the primary rationale for the creation of the Douai-Rheims Bible centered around the need by Catholics in England to create a clearly legible sacred text as a means of helping to discourage conversion in the face of conversion temptation brought on by Counter-Reformation preachers and to clearly articulate the articles of faith in a vernacular that could be easily understood and interpreted.
This work was first published through the intercession of Lawrence Killam at Douai and the text once it went through the printing press came in a flat case leather binding measuring 6 1/2 x 9 in.  Examples of the title page and frontispiece can be found in the illustrations provided.  Subsequent reprints and editions have been made of this trailblazing work making it one of the read religious-centered tomes over since its first appearance over 400 years ago.  For more information contact Alan Delozier, University Archivist/ Education Coordinator via e-mail: Alan.Delozier@shu.edu or by phone at: (973) 275-2378.

Archives News: Conservation and Digitization of 17th Century Illuminated Manuscript Qur’an

Page from the Qur'an with intricate designThe Archives & Special Collections Center in collaboration with the Digital Humanities Committee recently had conservation work and digitization performed on a 17th century illuminated manuscript Qur’an from the rare book collection. The Qur’an was originally brought from Lebanon by Edwin D. Hardin, who was a missionary stationed at the American University of Beirut from approximately 1900 to 1915. It first came to Seton Hall in 2003 when it was featured in a Walsh Gallery exhibition entitled The Beauty of Sacred Texts: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Institute of Judeo-Christian Studies. The lender, Mr. Peter Kennedy, had intended to gift the volume to the University and in 2016 donated the Qur’an to the Archives & Special Collections Center.

Qur'an's binding before conservation
Before conservation
Qur'an's binding after conservation
After conservation
Marginal decoration with handwritten annotation
Marginal decoration with handwritten annotation

The Qur’an was sent out for conservation in order to stabilize it for digitization and handling. The volume had undergone some previous repairs and was re-bound sometime during the 18th or 19th century. The envelope flap, which extends from the back cover of the volume and folds up to cover its fore edge, was very weak at the hinges and became detached during the conservator’s examination. The binding was also failing, causing some leaves to loosen and begin to detach. We sent the volume to Etherington Conservation Services in North Carolina, where conservators reattached and reinforced the envelope flap, repaired minor damage to the covers, re-sewed the binding, and re-covered the spine. While the binding was removed, they scanned the pages to create a digital copy of the book.

 

 

Decoration within the text
Decoration within the text

As a result of this work, this historic Qur’an is stable enough for handling and display, and the digital images can be made available online. This will allow researchers to view the Qur’an’s beautifully illuminated pages and intricate marginal decorations without putting stress on the volume. It will also open up many possibilities for research projects, such as a potential project to decipher and translate the annotations that appear throughout the volume. The digital collection is coming soon!

Page with marginal decoration and decoration within the text

 

Saints In Print – An Example From Our Rare Book Collection

The commemoration of All Saint’s Day (also known in some quarters as “All Hallows’ Day,” “Hallowmas,” “Feast Of All Saints,” or “Solemnity of All Saints”) recognizes the lives and legacy of saints and martyrs in history and is celebrated not only in the United States, but globally.  It is a Christian-based holiday that is observed every year on November 1st among Western Churches and the first Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern Rite Churches.  The traditional rituals found to be connected with All Saints’ Day include personal reflection and formal remembrance combined with a religious service to honor those who are recognized for their exceptional piety.  Their tales are often recounted in print form and available to future generations to discover.

In our Rare Book Collection, a number of texts on individual saints dating back to the 15th century which are worth reading in a wide-range of languages including Latin, French, German, and others.  Among our earliest American published volumes is the work entitled – Christ In His Church: Her Dogmas and Her Saints, With Moral Reflections, Critical Illustrations, and Explanatory Notes (New York: Thomas Kelly, 1875) by noted author Henry Rutter.  He provided the context of how the work of saints was instrumental in the overall work of devotion to the Catholic Church with a particular emphasis on female deities including St. Brigid, St. Margaret, St. Cecily, St. Lucy and others.  This volume is a prime example of a mid-19th century devotional text that highlights the contributions of saints with their influence on Church teachings.     

For more information there are many books, articles, and other resources including the Internet where more information can be found regarding the sainthood and the holiday of All Saints’ Day.  The following a few starting works, but not limited to these examples, for those who want to learn more can connect to the following link –

http://eds.b.ebscohost.com/eds/results?vid=0&sid=d3248b17-f009-493f-8072-85abf8698d21%40sessionmgr101&bquery=%22saint*%22&bdata=JkF1dGhUeXBlPWNvb2tpZSxpcCxzc28mdHlwZT0wJnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d

Individual saints can also be researched by name and as part of a collective narrative on the history and contributions of those whose legacy endures to this day.

For more information please feel free to contact us at (973) 275-2378 or via e-mail at: archives@shu.edu