Scarce. 1644 Les Epistres de la Seraphique Vierge Saincte Catherine de Sienne (Catherine of Sienna)


1644 printing of the letters of Catherine of Sienna; a somewhat scarce work, OCLC and the Universal Short Title Catalogue only record seven copies in the world's libraries. This edition came after a long absence of the printing of Catherine of Sienna's letters in France.

"Outside of Italy, France was barely touched at all by Catherine's influence, since the Dominican Observance developed there only later; and the passion with which she had supported Urban VI against the Frenchman Clement VII had also left lingering bad memories there... One had to await the 'mystical invasion' of the seventeenth century for her writings to know a broad dissemination in French, with the publication in Paris in 1644 of a translation of the Epistres de la Seraphique verge saincte Catherine de Sienne by Jean Balesdens." - Catherine of Sienna: A life of Passion and Purpose, Andr. Vauchez

During Catherine's life she had been an outspoken proponent of returning the Papacy to Rome (from Avignon).

About Catherine's letters -

"Her physical travels were not the only way in which Catherine made her views known. From 1375 onward, she began dictating letters to scribes. These letters were intended to reach men and women of her circle, increasingly widening her audience to include figures in authority as she begged for peace between the republics and principalities of Italy and for the return of the Papacy from Avignon to Rome. She carried on a long correspondence with Pope Gregory XI, asking him to reform the clergy and the administration of the Papal States."

"Catherine's letters are considered one of the great works of early Tuscan literature. Many of these were dictated, although she herself learned to write in 1377; 382 have survived. In her letters to the Pope, she often addressed him affectionately simply as Babbo ("Daddy"), instead of the formal form of address "Your Holiness". Other correspondents include her various confessors, among them Raymond of Capua, the kings of France and Hungary, the infamous mercenary John Hawkwood, the Queen of Naples, members of the Visconti family of Milan, and numerous religious figures."

Bibliographic Details -

Universal Short Title Catalogue number 6035497; three copies in France at Lyon, BNF and Mediatheque Jose Cabanis.

Worldcat OCLC numbers 55599055, 690852653 and 457332790; copies at Stanford, St. Louis University, University of Notre Dame, Universite de Lille, and BNF repeated (USTC).

Physical Attributes -

Measures approx. 23.5 x 18 x 5 cm, quarto. Mottled leather binding; boards framed with double gilt fillet. Spine with five raised bands; five compartments with a central gilt floret tool, and one compartment with the title in gilt on red morocco. Sprinkled edges. Title page with printer's mark of Hure. One full-page portrait of Catherine.

Pages - (xxviii), 834 (377-388 not used, as per cataloguing, so 832), (16 pages of Table)

Collation - a4, e4, i4, o2, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, AAa-ZZz4, AAaa-ZZzz4, AAAAa4, BBBbb-OOOoo4

Condition -

See pictures. Binding worn, with some crazing, rubbing, bare corners, etc. but still solid; the joints are not cracked. Ticket of "Luciani de Contagnet" on the pastedown. Older hinge repaired, and first and last gathering mounted; they are slightly smaller and I almost wonder if they're from a different copy, or the binder trimmed them for some reason.

Stamp of a library on title page. Some strikethroughs on the notes at the bottom of Catherine of Sienna's portrait. Toned throughout with some fox spots. Bottom corner of title page missing, no printing affected. Thumbs, dog-eared pages, fox spots, some worming, etc. throughout. Moisture mark on the four leaves following the portrait. 1st several gatherings a little shaken at the gutter and slightly proud at fore-edge. There's a few errant ink marks, for example an "a" doodled in the margin. Last several leaves with a repair in the bottom margin.

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