Monday, June 23, 2014

Jansenists, Printing, and Censorship: Unigenitus 1713-2013

Decretum. Feria iv. die 17. Februarii 1717 : Sacra Congregatio eminentissimorum, & reverendissimorum DD. S.R.E. cardinalium in totâ republicâ Christianâ generalium inquisitorum habita in conventu Sanctae Mariae super Minervam : attento, quod nuper non sine magno christifidelium scandalo in lucem prodierint quidam libelli, epistolae, aliaque folia gallico idiomate conscripta. Lisbon: Manescal, 1717.

Portuguese broadside reprinting the Roman edition of the Inquisition’s decree condemning eight French publications from late 1716 related to the bull Unigenitus. The expedited notice of prohibited books in broadside format generally preceded their listing in the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.
Clementine MRBU 1:20

Arrest de la cour du Parlement, qui supprime un imprimé, intitulé : Canonisatio B. Vincentii à Paulo. Parisiis, e typis Petri Simon, MDCCXXXVII. Du 4. janvier 1738. Paris: Pierre Simon, 1738.
This arrêt published by the royal printer suppresses the printed copy of Pope Clement XII’s bull canonizing Saint Vincent de Paul. Vincent’s saintliness was not in dispute, but Parlement objected to the Pope’s failure to request its approval of the canonization in accordance with ancient Gallican customs.

The printer, Pierre Simon, might have printed this arrêt with mixed emotions, having but recently printed the Canonisatio which it suppresses. While no copy of the Canonisatio has been located, suggesting effective government censorship, this arrêt obviously survived (ironically, in the collection of the Albani) despite the Pope’s threatened excommunication for anyone who read or distributed it.
Clementine MRBU 33:18

 The Nouvelles Ecclesiastiques

Ide de l'Ordre Observ pour la Distribution des Nouvelles Eclesiastique. [France?   between 1730 and 1744?]

The Nouvelles Ecclésiastiques is arguably the most successful underground periodical in history. Published in an edition of 4,000 to 6,000 weekly copies from 1728 until 1803, it evaded governmental attempts to locate and arrest the pro-Jansenist editors and authors, even after a copy was left brazenly in the carriage of the Parisian chief of police. This organizational chart explains the editors' ability to elude the authorities. Individuals are connected in a chain which protects their identity from all but one or two other members, making denunciation to the police impossible. As the caption explains, "each one of the 24 persons ... knows only the person to whom he must report and those who report directly to him." Clementine MRBU 4

Arrest de la Cour de Parlement, qui condamne plusieurs feüilles, intitulées: Nouvelles Ecclesiastiques, ou Memoires, pour servir à l'Histoire de la Constitution, &c. à être lacerées & brûlées par l'executeur de la haute justice. Du 9. Fevrier 1731. Paris : Pierre Simon, 1731

The 1731 writ of Parlement ordering that copies of the Nouvelles Ecclesiastiques be shredded and burned by the public executioner. The pamphlet concludes with a notarized statement that the sentence had been carried out, but this proved to be one of many fruitless attempts to crack down on the most important propaganda weapon in the Jansenist arsenal.
Clementine MRBU 10:40

Nouvelles Eclesiastiques [sic] ou Memoires Pour Servir a l’Histoire de la Constitution Unigenitus . [France?] 1739.

As this engraved title page indicates, the Nouvelles was conceived specifically as a Jansenist/appellant response to the bull Unigenitus. It is not hard to see what the authorities found objectionable in this militantly Jansenist journal which was aimed at influencing nascent public opinion. 

Engraved title pages like this, together with text, hammered home the message that the Constitution perverted the Gospel and infringed traditional liberties of the Gallican church by repressing the Jansenists. The engraver here conveys wordlessly the contrast between the Jansenist (on left) and orthodox Catholic position (on right). From the shading of the books on the Catholic side, the bat-winged putti and allusion to the refusal of sacraments, the Constitutionnaires are depicted in a bad light, while on the left all is sweetness and vrit, as the clergy of Sens (seated in orderly rows) appeal against Archbishop Languet’s catechism, the appellants' angels beaming with divine inspiration validated by tongues of fire above their heads. 
Clementine 273.7.N734


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