With it being the Halloween season, now is a good time to highlight one on the unique items in our digital collections.
Pictured to the right is the spine for the Manuale Exorcismorum with a hand-drawn demon embellishing the binding. This book is a how-to guide to exorcisms, written in Antwerp, Spanish Netherlands (modern-day Belgium) by R. D. Maximilien de Eynatten and published in London in 1619. Its entire title is as follows:
Manuale exorcismorum: continens instructiones, & exorcismos ad eiiciendos e corporibus obsessis spiritus malignos, & ad quaeuis maleficia depellenda, & ad quascumque infestationes daemonum reprimendas
This translates to:
Exorcism manual: containing instructions & exorcisms to cast out evil spirits from the bodies of the possessed, & to seek to repel witchcraft, & to repress demonic infestations by whatsoever means
The work itself is broken up into three sections. The first part contains general instructions and preparations for exorcisms: things like how to determine if a person is suffering from demonic possession and not from natural diseases, learning about various symbols and their effects, proper time and place for an exorcism, and various precautions to take against demons. The second part details the methods and practices used in an exorcism, including many different prayers, invocations, and solemn oaths, with selected prayers and exorcism methods included from respected authors. Finally, the third part contains methods and practices to expel various kinds of witchcraft or enchantments from both bodies and other objects, including chapters on exorcising dairy products, cereals and other foods (with specific chapters on milk and butter); exorcising a spirit from a home; exorcising witchcraft from your own body and exorcising witchcraft from the bodies of others; remedies against pests, fevers and other natural diseases; and remedies against love potions, amongst others.
Though old and written in Latin, the text reads very much like a modern-day field guide, written in a no-nonsense referential manner so that it could be easily used during field work.
The Digital Library team (more specifically, this author) is currently in the middle of creating an amateur translation of this work, which on completion will be offered as a companion document in the Digital Library (author’s note: who knew those two semesters of Latin in college would pay real world dividends? Then again, two semesters of Latin from over ten years ago makes translation work on this manual slow going, so publication of the translation may be awhile…)
The manual in its entirety can be seen here:
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