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Items from Woodstock Library Rare Book Collection

Woodstock Library Rare Book Collection

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Poems by “Father Sechia”

Jesuits have excelled at everything. This is no exaggeration.  Jesuits have been brilliant scholars and practitioners in the fields of mathematics, paleontology, geology, cartography, philosophy, law, medicine, business administration, education, librarianship, and, of course, theology. It is not unexpected, then, that not a few Jesuits were exceptional in their artistic and literary endeavors.  Of the literary genres, poetry was a particular creative vocation pursued by many among the Jesuits. The most well known poet in the English language is Gerard Manely Hopkins.

Poetry Book

There were other lesser known Jesuit poets like Sebastiano Chiesa (d. 1678), who was born in Reggio di Modena, Italy. Woodstock Theological Library has unique manuscript volumes of poetry written by Chiesa entitled Capitolo de frati, poema eroico comico o sia prurito geniale autumnale del pa[d]re Sechia Accedemic lepido Reggiano. (A chapter concerning the friars, a heroic comical poem, or, its brilliant autumnal yearning by the charming father Sechia, Academic [of] Reggio Emilia). As the title suggests, these volumes contain satirical poems which are meant to poke fun at Franciscan friars. Father Sechia was the nom de plume of Chiesa, who might have wanted to remain the unidentified prankster! In other known copies of this poem he also uses a fuller form of this name: Tisabesano Sechia.

 Title Page

Here, Woodstock’s copy is opened to the first page of volume one which has clear cursive handwriting. The title page, as you can see, has a printed floriated border.


Blog written by Rare Book Cataloguer Amy Phillips.