Rosary and exorcism

This book is part of a collection of engraved Catholic texts bound together in one volume, including Jesuit material, alongside lives of saints such as Dominic and Catherine of Siena. It is a description of the miraculous benefits of the rosary and its special place in devotion to the Virgin Mary, and includes an engraved title-page and fifteen engraved plates. The publisher was Theodoor Galle (1571-1633), who married into the illustrious Plantijn-Moretus family, the most celebrated printing house in the low countries at the time. Galle was himself a noted Flemish engraver of Baroque themes, and the engravings in this volume are often attributed to him although they are unsigned. The subject of this plate is exorcism, the religious or spiritual practice of purportedly evicting demons from bodies which are said to be possessed. Here, the demons are vividly shown streaming out of the mouth of the sinner, as the priest performs the rite from the pulpit. The casting out of demons occurs frequently in the New Testament. Exorcism was fundamental to the rite of baptism in the Catholic Church, and survived into the 1549 Book of Common Prayer. It was also revived in the Counter-Reformation, especially by the Jesuits, as a testimony to the power of the Catholic priesthood to command spirits. Relics, such as those of the bodies of new martyrs, were used to authenticate the truth of the proceedings. BC

Miracula et beneficia SS. Rosario virginis matris devotis a Deo opt. max. collata. (Antwerp, Theodorus Gallaeus, 1610).

YML: HOB IX.H.20, plate 1

Further Reading

Sarah Ferber, Demonic Possession and Exorcism in Early Modern France (London, 2004).

Anne Dillon, ‘Praying by Number: The Confraternity of the Rosary and the English Catholic Community, c. 1580-1700’, History, 88 (2003), 451-71.

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