Turin: Heirs of Colonna, 1690. Third edition. 12mo. 1 blank fol. + , 424 pp. (some foxing throughout, pp. 135-170 with worming in blank lower margins, rather ugly but touching only four letters). Contemporary Italian vellum, four raised bands on spine, in the second compartment the author's name and title written by a contemporary hand, sprinkled red edges. Very good. Item #3754
Comforting and caring for the condemned "patiente," or DEAD MEN WALKING.
Marcello Mansi, of Naples, was general consul of the Order of Clerics, Regular Ministers of the Infirm. Here Mansi dispenses precepts for the comfort of those sentenced to death. In the final part the author indicates what can be said to the condemned to relieve their pain and suffering during their last moments on earth, including going down the prison steps towards the place of execution: this is the very definition of the proverbial "dead men walking." Mansi continues his instructions on comforting until the moment when the noose is fitted around the prisoner's neck, and even after the prisoner is dead. Finally, there is a special chapter on comforting the dead prisoner's family.
"The primary goal of comforters was to convince the prisoner to focus on saving his immortal soul. In cities across Italy, comforters urged the 'patiente' [patient in Latin] to focus on the afterlife; while the machinery of earthly justice would not spare his body, willing submission to the sentence offered his soul the possibility of eternal rewards.*I To encourage this acceptance of the sentence, Italian rituals of comfort verbally reinforced the connection between the Passion, martyrdom, and the prisoner's own suffering. For instance, in a guide for comforters, Marcello Mansi interweaves meditation on the Passion with elements drawn from the Italian execution ritual, in which prisoners were often made to kneel and kiss the crucifix on the scaffold. Mansi suggests that as the rope is placed around the prisoner's neck, the comforter should remind him that Christ welcomed his own cross despite the many bodily torments he had already suffered; he further prescribes that the comforter should encourage the prisoner to imagine Christ, like the condemned, kneeling to kiss the cross." (Meryl Bailey).
CENSUS of the 1690 edition:
USA: USC only (Newberry holds the 1625 edition, the only other copy of this work in America). Switzerland: Biblioteca Salita dei Frati (Lugano). France: Institut catholique de Paris. Italy: Biblioteca Padri Cappuccini, Biblioteca Diocesana Vigilianum Seminario and the Fondazione Biblioteca San Bernardino (all in Trento). Malta: Pubblica Biblioteca.
No digital surrogate has been found.
CATALOGUER'S NOTE: the USC and Biblioteca Salita dei Frati copies are paginated , 424, as here. Other cataloguers have apparently included the first blank leaf, giving the pagination as ", 424."
PROVENANCE: Bookplate of Federico Caproni ("Biblioteca Caproni") of Vizzola. Caproni was an industrialist who, with his brother Giovanni Battista, founded Caproni Aircraft. He formed a large library which was especially strong in aeronautics; it was dispersed in the 1990s (the wine and agricultural books were purchased en bloc by the Biblioteca La Vigna, Vicenza).
REFERENCE: Elizabetta Patrizi, "The Artes Moriendi as Source for the History of Education in Modern History" in: Mors certa, hora incerta. Tradiciones, representaciones y educación ante la muerte (2016), no. 156.
FURTHER LITERATURE: Adriano Prosperi, Crime and Forgiveness: Christianizing Execution in Medieval Europe (2020), p. 231. Konrad Eisenbichler, A Companion to Medieval and Early Modern Confraternities (2019), p. 217. Meryl Bailey, "Carrying the Cross in Early Modern Venice" in: Space, Place, and Motion: Locating Confraternities in the Late Medieval and Early Modern City (2017), p. 263. Nicholas Terpstra, "Confraternities and Capital Punishment: Charity, Culture, and Civic Religion in the Communal and Confessional Age" in: A Companion to Medieval and Early Modern Confraternities, pp. 212-231.