Small 8vo. (2) ff, 66 pp, (1) ff. Title page printed in red and black. Bound in contemporary marbled wrappers. Slightly dog-eared, otherwise a very good copy.
Rare compilation of anti-Jesuit apocrypha: the famous ‘Monita secreta’ is found here alongside a purported condemnation of the Jesuits by the Faculty of Theology in Paris in 1554, as well as a translation of a prophecy of Saint Hildegaarde commonly seen as fortelling the fall of the Order. The present work bears a transparently false imprint (“chez Jacques Daniel, a good subject of the Prince, at the Sign of Truth”); we have been unable to trace any other record of the publisher Daniel in Turin. While the place of printing was almost certainly Paris, the foreign imprint corroborates the polemicist’s allegation that France had become such a Jesuit stronghold that the work could not be published there.
The Monita Secreta was a guide allegedly written by the Jesuits explaining how to gain riches and make influential friends; bibliographers often attribute it to a Pole, Jerome Zaorowsky, exiled from the Society in 1611. The work was first printed in 1614 and enjoyed numerous printing couched under various suggestive titles – ‘Jesuit intrigues’, ‘the cabinet of the Jesuits secrets opened’, etc. As a forged work of slander, for both its widespread dissemination and influence it may be compared to the anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The editor of the present edition again introduces the work as a clandestine publication – “I do not know by what means it fell into the hands of Printers”. The work is written in a straightforward and factual way and instructs members of the Order to court wealthy widows, gain promotions, and discredit members of other orders. Alexandre Brou, for example, attributes the printings of the late 17th century to the Jansenists in their ongoing political struggle against the Order; whether the present ‘Turin’ printing falls into that category remains to be determined. 1708 saw the forced dissolution of the Jansenist stronghold, Port-Royal; in the years which followed many Jansenists were excommunicated by Papal bulls for their beliefs.
The remarkable rise of the Jesuit Order from its founding in 1540 provoked both suspicion and envy in the religious world: as the editor of the present edition states, “the rise of the Jesuits is the object of admiration of the entire world. One cannot understand precisely how, in less than two centuries, these clerics have managed to become so powerful, making themselves formidable to all other Orders, and wielding influence in both the Old and New Worlds. It is a mystery for many people…”
OCLC shows no US copies of this title, which appeared again in 1729 without an imprint.
* OCLC 459214162. Cf De Backer-Sommervogel V: 491-5 (p 493 for this edition) on the Monita secreta. Cf also Brou, Les Jesuites de la Legende I: 290 (1906).