Zaragoza: En Caragoça por Angelo Tauano, 1599.
Duodecimo: 13.8 x 7.5 cm. , 152 hoyas ¶6, A2, B-N12, O6
Contemporary vellum, lightly worn. Text very good w. occ. light toning, sig. c lightly browned, small hole in leaf K11, worming in gutter of 4 lvs., not affecting text, occ. mild stains. Type-ruled throughout. Woodcut of the Virgin Mary on lvs. B9 and C9, Jesuit emblem on leaf C 10. Extremely rare. A search of KVK and OCLC locates 1 copy (BN Madrid).
Common rules for the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Catholic Marian society founded in 1563 by the Belgian Jesuit Jan Leunis (d. 1584). Based on the model of the first Marian sodality at Rome, new sodalities were established “in the colleges and houses of the Jesuits” in numerous countries. This particular manual was printed for the use of the sodalities established in the Jesuit College of Zaragoza. With a woodcut (printed twice) of Nuestra Señora del Pilar (Our Lady of the Pillar), patroness of Aragon, an apparition of the Virgin Mary that, legend has it, appeared to the Apostle James the Greater while he was preaching in Spain (40 A.D.). The woodcut is modeled on the ancient cult statue of the Virgin housed in a shrine in Zaragoza, the premier shrine of Marian devotion in Spain.
Marian Congregations or sodalities are Catholic lay fellowships or associations established to make Jesuit spirituality available to lay people. Under the guidance of a Jesuit priest, members cultivate their faith, live their religion in everyday life, and support the apostolic mission of the church. The work of the sodalities often focused on helping the poor, and dissuading people from vice, whether gambling, blasphemy, prostitution, drunkenness, or other deeply-rooted social ills.
From the very beginning of the Society of Jesus, there was an impulse to start groups of pious Christians for various purposes. Peter Faber, a companion of St. Ignatius at the canonical beginnings of the Society of Jesus in 1540, began a Sodality in Parma 20 days before the canonical beginnings of the Society. And in 1547 St. Ignatius himself gathered a group of 12 gentlemen to handle the alms for the poor that he was receiving. Confraternities were established in the missions of Goa and Japan. While religious confraternities had existed before the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits “wanted their confraternities to support and promote a more deeply interiorized ethical and religious life. Jesuit reliance on the ‘Exercises’ gave this a clear form.”(O’Malley)
But the Marian congregations marked a new phase. “The Jesuits now had a confraternity, a ‘sodality’, that was as recognizably theirs as were the ‘Third Orders’ for the mendicants. It had its first home in the schools, but the model soon extended to adults. The Marian Congregations were strikingly important in forming patterns of lay piety in many areas of Europe in subsequent centuries.”(ibid.)
Leunis placed the group under the patronage and protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary and gave it rules for a spiritual life, modeled on those of its predecessors in the various Jesuit establishments. “Frequent confession and Communion, for a period; meetings in the little chapel which had been turned over to them in the interior of the college; meditation; frequent interviews in which each one spoke familiarly on what he had done during the day and what he planned to do the next day; visits to shrines and to relics of the saints; and care of the poor.”(Villaret) Leunis’ sodality at Rome would become the one to which each new sodality referred as its model.
On December 5, 1584, Pope Gregory XIII promulgated the bull Omnipotentis Dei, which established the Sodality of the Roman College as “Mother and Mistress of all other Sodalities on the face of the earth.” The papal approval gave the Superior General of the Jesuits the power to establish sodalities on the model of that of the Roman College, the Prima Primaria, in the schools and also the houses of the Jesuits. By 1580, there were some 30,000 members of affiliated sodalities.
This volume opens with the bull of Gregory XIII, followed by the bull of Sixtus V (1586), which opened the sodalities to people other than students in the Jesuit colleges.
The text proper (in Spanish) commences with an enumeration and description of the special indulgences, faculties, and privileges granted to the sodalities. Then follow the rules, many of which are peculiar to the Jesuit Marian sodality. For example, every month, each member of the sodality was assigned a saint and to that saint the congregant had to direct all his or her prayers. Congregants were also encouraged to have images of their “monthly” saints in their houses, so they could pray in front of them on a regular basis. The volume concludes with litanies, antiphons, and hymns to be sung in honor of the Virgin.