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Rare Books Collection: Saints and Religious People

Mount Saint Mary's University rare books catalog

Saints and Religious People


Monnin, Alfred. The Life of the Rev. J.B.M. Vianney. Kelly & Piet; Baltimore, 1867.


Origins: This book was previously owned by a P.J. O’ Connell at an unknown date.There was a Patrick J. O’Connell who had a correspondence with the Mount in the late 19th century. This copy could have been donated by either himself or a family member who later attended the Mount.


Material: This book is about the life of Saint John Mary Vianney, who is also the patron saint of parish priests. Vianney lived in France during the turbulent period of the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars and after. His devotion to Catholicism attracted people from all over France who came to Ars and paid money simply to meet with him.[1] Monnin’s account of Vianney’s life credited him with converting members of the Ars community to Roman Catholicism as well as many different miraculous occurrences. 



Weaknesses:  Book is fragile and must be handled with care. Monnin has a clear bias in favor of Catholicism and wants to make Vianney look as holy as possible. Extraordinary events recounted by Monnin should be taken with a grain of salt.




[1] Michael Walsh, Butler’s Lives of the Saints, (Harper San Francisco; New York, 1991) 236. 

The life of Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland : to which is added the celebrated hymn, composed above twelve hundred years since. Feidling Lucas Jr: 1823.


Origins: This book has recently been rebound and does not give any indication of when it came into the Mount’s possession.



Material: This book is an account of Saint Patrick, a famous Catholic missionary who is credited with introducing Christianity to Ireland. The unknown author provided a history of Ireland before Patrick arrived, different accounts of Celtic Ireland, and the man himself. At the end of the book is included a hymn dedicated to Saint Patrick titled “Hymn on Saint Patrick”. The book also contains an appendix which describes in detail the locations mentioned in the account on Saint Patrick as well as a list of the Archbishops of Aramgh and Bishops of Dublin up to the 19th century. This book will be useful for anyone studying the life of Saint Patrick.


Weaknesses: Readers should be aware that when reading the accounts of saints, some authors like to take the miracles ascribed to the saint in question as undisputed fact. Miraculous events in an academic arena should be questioned as to whether it really occurred or not.  

A Manual of Ceremonies used in the Catholic Church. H.L. Devereux: Boston, 1833.


Origins: This book has been identified as previously owned by Bishop Joseph Rosati who served as Bishop of St. Louis from 1827 to 1843. A Joreyn Garnier identified the book as owned by Rosati and the book has been stamped to be owned by the St. Louis Library.


Material: The Manual is a collection of lists which priests and bishops used to perform mass and other Catholic ceremonies. The manual deals with the arrangement of table cloth, prayers, and the role deacons play.  Bishop Rosati may have used this manual in his day to day operation of the St. Louis diocese. [1] Any historian interested in studying the development of American Catholic religious practices could find this book useful.



Weaknesses: This Book is fragile and should be handled with care.


Call Number: BS 4435.4 .E6 1833


[1] Archdioese of St. Louis, “1818-1843: The Beginnings of a Catholic City,”Archioese of St. Louis, accessed May 2, 2016,

St. Vincent's Manual : containing a selection of prayers and devotional exercises. John Murphy & Co: Baltimore, 1865.


Origins: This book is of unknown origin.



Material: This book is guide to American Catholicism in the 19th century. The book contains Catholic holidays for the different saints, prayers for certain days, and descriptions of the different sacraments among other projects. Saint Vincent’s Manual would be useful to any historian studying American Catholicism.



Weaknesses: This book is small and fragile and should be handled with care.

Agnew, Elizabeth Constantia. The Young Communicants. Eugene Cumminsky; Philadelphia, 1840.


Origins: This book used to belong to the Mount Carmel Library in Mechanicstown Maryland (current Thurmont Maryland).   


Physical Description:

Length: 15mm

Paper type; Lack of chain lines and publication date indicate Woven paper

Binding: basic examination indicates Laced in binding

Outside cover: cardboard with geometric patterns and flowers decorating both sides. The title of the book is along the spine.

Special effects: none


Material: The book is a story intended to instruction young Catholics on the church and the proper way that one should act as Catholics. The story is told through the prospective of Margaret, an ignorant farm girl who is admitted late into a convent for the purposes of learning about the Catholic faith. Throughout the story, Margaret engages in discussions with a seemingly wiser class mate Mary. Mary, a sickly child, spends most of the story ill and eventually dies. The point of this story was to introduce the basic principles of the Catholic faith to an audience of children or even adults with a low level of education, shown either through the discussions or through Mary’s actions on her deathbed. This book would useful to any interested in researching mid 19th century Catholic children books. 


Call Number: PR 4001 .A445 .Y6 1840



Catholic Truth Society of America. Devotions in Honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Catholic Truth Society of America: Dublin, 1907.



Origins: This item at one point or another was owned by a Jas. Murphy. The name Jas. Murphy is written on the cover page of the pamphlet, along with another undistinguishable name and a reference to a Christmas vacation in 1909. It is unclear how this item came to be owned by the Phillip Library.



Material: This pamphlet is a simple collection of prayers and devotions from a Catholic perspective. In addition to prayers useful during a Catholic mass there are hymms and prayers to various saints such as Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Joseph. An early 20th century Catholic might have used this pamphlet as a cheap reminder and guide for daily prayer. Anyone studying early 20th century catholic devotion materials may be interested in this item.



Call Number: BX 2157 .I65 1907

Catholic Literature

Stewart, Agnes. Stories on the Beatitudes. D and J Sadlier and Co: New York, 1866.


Origin: This book came to the Phillips Library from the Mount Carmel Library in Mechanicstown Maryland (Thurmont Maryland).


Material: In the nine stories included, the overall message is focused upon catholic teaching, specifically as indicated by the title, the beatitudes. In each of the stories, the characters are divided up into two categories: the good Catholic types who are humble and kind and the bad Catholics (or Protestants depending on the story) who ignore the beatitudes, turn away from God, and presumably burn in Hell. Stewart’s work is far from spellbinding (the book kind of comes off as a way to trick children by making them believe they are about to read an exciting fairy tale but they end up with a far from subtle Christian lesson). Historians interested in studying Catholic history could find value in the views adopted by the author and what she thought of as proper Catholic behavior.  


Weaknesses: This book contains the 19th century pro-Catholic views which should be taken into account when analyzing the stories.


Call Number: PR 5449 .S14 S85 1866

Hughes, Kate E. The Little Pearls; or, Gems of Virtue. P. O’Shea. New York, 1877.




Origins: This book is of unknown origin. There is a name written on the front cover but the cursive is indecipherable.


Material: The Little Pearls is a morals story for children, specifically Catholic children. These stories most likely came from France as events and locations mentioned are of French origin. The stories revolve around the actions of the characters as they exhibit either positive or negative Catholic behavior. At the end of each story, the author or storyteller outlines the important component of the characters’ actions and how said actions relate to Catholic teaching. Obviously these stories are intended for children who needed instruction on proper Catholic behavior. This book would be useful for any student interesting in studying Catholic history due to the nature of the document.


Weaknesses: This book is fragile and should be handled carefully. 


Call Number: PQ 2276 .L778 1877


Pope Paul VI. Mystery of Faith or Mysterium Fidel. St. Paul Editions. Daughters of St. Paul. Boston, 1965.

Origins: This book was donated to the Phillips Library of Professor Emeritus Germain Grisez in 2015.

Material: This pamphlet was written by Pope Paul the 6th and focuses on the Catholic belief in the Eucharist. The Pope is writing from a post Second Vatican Council perspective. His audience is the entire Catholic Church, including many confused members who are not sure what has changed and what is still the same. Pope Paul constantly reinforces the idea that the Eucharist is still the divine sacrifice of Jesus regardless of other changes which have taken place. He argues that the Eucharist must still be held as an important connection between God and the faithful. For Catholics receiving contradictory arguments about Catholic practices, this pamphlets could have provided a simple form of relief. This document would be useful to anyone studying the Second Vatican Council era.


Call number: BX 2215.2 .C3 1965

Dollinger, J.J. History of the Church Vol.1. C. Doleman:

London, 1840.




Origin: This book was rebound which makes it impossible to determine how the book came into the library’s possession.





Material: This book was written by Dr, Johann Dollinger, a German Catholic priest from the 19th century. Dollinger would later go on to develop conflict with the Catholic Church over the doctrine of papal infallibility that created a splinter group known as the “Old Catholics.”[1] Dollinger is presenting a history of the Christian Church from its early days to the 19th century with the intention of informing his 19th century audience about the dangers and trials early Christians went through in order to practice their faith. Upon reading this text, one might uncover some of Dollinger’s views of on the Catholic Church and the authority of the pope which would create controversy by 1845. This book would be useful for any interested in Catholic history.



Call number:  BR 145 .D55 1840 V.1-V.2


[1] Arthur Marshall, “Dr. Dollinger and the ‘Old Catholics’,” from The American Catholic Quarterly Review, Vol. 15, (Hardy and Mahony; Philadelphia, 1876), 266.

Boudon, Henri-Marie. The Book of Perpetual Adoration. R. Washbourne: London, 1873.


Origins: There are no markings which indicate how the item entered the library collection.


Material: This 19th century printing is spiritual book on the sacrament of the Eucharist and the use of the Eucharist for adoration. Boudon wrote about the importance of the Eucharist, Adoration, and the attributes of Jesus Christ. He tries to tie the different elements of his book together to get across to his audience how important the sacrament is to the Catholic Church. His writing is meant as a guide to the proper spiritual experience of Adoration.  Boudon would have written this book during a period in European history when new ideologies began to challenge the validity of religious belief or experience. Boudon’s guide would have been a counter answer to this change in culture.


Call Number: BX 2169 .B756 1873

Mount Saint Mary’s College.U.S. Prelates. Mount Saint Mary’s College Archives: Emmitsburg.



Origins: This item was found in the Rhoads Archive Study Room. There is no clear indication when this item was made and by whom.




Material: This item is a collection of American Catholic bishops and archbishops portrait prints from the late 19th century. There does not seem to be another copy of its kind in existence and is believed to have been put together by someone in the Mount community. The spine of the book reads U.S. Prelates and mentions Mount Saint Mary’s College Archives which indicates the Mount had the item bound. Beyond those two pieces of information, a portrait of an unidentified cardinal who does not match the rest of the prints, and a random collection of writings about several dioceses in the United States, there is no other writing or information to help identify the item. These prints will be useful to anyone studying late 19th century American catholic history.



Call Number: BX 2382 .C5 P78

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