Early Printed Devotional Works


(Click on the call number to view the digital facsimile of the book.)

Along with the printed books of hours from the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Gordon Collection features two slim devotional volumes written specifically for women, to guide their prayer and daily routine:

Gordon 1505 .E74 — George de Esclavonie, Le chasteau de virginite

Preserving a young woman’s virginity was essential, both for her marriageability and social standing, as well as for her spiritual well-being.  Mary, mother of Christ, was the primary model recommended to all women, unmarried, married, or widowed, and for those destined for secular lives as well as the convent.  George de Esclavonie writes at length and eloquently on the topic to his young goddaughter who has taken the veil in Le chasteau de virginité.

Gordon 1530 .P48 Cy comece vne petite instruction et maniere de viure pour vne feme seculiere...

The anonymous Cy commence une petite instruction & maniere de vivre pour une femme seculiere... provides similar advice and practical instruction for a young woman’s spiritual practices in the secular world. The text offers its female readers the exemplary tale of a young wife, devoted to her husband and children, who proves even more dedicated to seeking a “parfaicte et vraye congnoissance de dieu” (true and perfect knowledge of God), to the point that she astonishes the “maistre en saincte theologie” (master of theology) who has never encountered such perfect devotion is his fifty years of wearing the ecclesiastical cloak. 

For more on the topic of virginity and exemplary female figures, see the section on Books and Women.