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Collection Number: 70118

Collection Title: Propaganda Fide Press Printing Blocks, 1626-1850

This collection has access restrictions. For details, please see the restrictions.


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Size 919 items
Abstract This collection consists of a set of 919 highly visual printing blocks used by the Propaganda Fide printing press in Rome between the 17th and 19th centuries, chronicling the propagation of the Christian faith in numerous languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Syriac, Burmese, Croatian, and Greek. Some blocks use the esoteric alphabets Malachim, the Celestial Alphabet, and Transitus Fluvii. The blocks also illustrate biblical scenes and other decorative printing elements, including coats-of-arms, decorative borders, initials, and headpieces. Many are wrapped in scrap printed paper with an image of the block. Founded in Rome in 1622, the Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide ("Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith") is a college of the Catholic church, now known as the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. To aid in the church's mission to spread the Catholic faith throughout the world, it established its own press in 1626. The press produced materials in at least 23 languages, including guides for priests trying to learn a new language and publications that communicated Catholicism's tenets.
Creator Catholic Church. Congregatio de Propaganda Fide.
Language Arabic, Burmese, Chinese, Croatian, Greek, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Syriac, Tibetan
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Restrictions to Access
This collection is not available for immediate or same day access. Please contact Research and Instructional Service staff at wilsonlibrary@unc.edu to discuss options for consulting this collection.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Propaganda Fide Press Printing Blocks #70118, Rare Book Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Purchased from Christie's London, July 2021 (Acc. 20220214.2), with funding from the John Wesley and Anna Hodgin Hanes Foundation and the Whittaker Library Foundation.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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Founded in Rome in 1622, the Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide ("Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith") is a college of the Catholic church, now known as the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. To aid in the church's mission to spread the Catholic faith throughout the world, it established its own press in 1626. The press produced materials in at least 23 languages, including guides for priests trying to learn a new language and publications that communicated Catholicism's tenets.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

This collection consists of a set of 919 highly visual printing blocks used by the Propaganda Fide printing press in Rome between the 17th and 19th centuries, chronicling the propagation of the Christian faith in numerous languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Syriac, Burmese, Croatian, and Greek. Some blocks use the esoteric alphabets Malachim, the Celestial Alphabet, and Transitus Fluvii. The blocks also illustrate biblical scenes and other decorative printing elements, including coats-of-arms, decorative borders, initials, and headpieces. Many are wrapped in scrap printed paper with an image of the block.

The collection contains many woodblocks related to Arabic publications, including a depiction of the Kaaba at Mecca. There are also many of the blocks used for the elegant headings used for each book of the first edition of the complete Bible in Arabic, completed in 1671. Also included is the chapter heading from the 1649 work Considerationes ad Mahommettanos cum responsione ad objectionem Ahmed filii Zin Alabedin: "The Qur'an does not contradict the Gospels," which resulted in the book's ban by the Inquisition.

The collection also contains many Chinese blocks, many of which are for language instruction. Several blocks reproduce inscriptions from the Nestorian Stele ("Dàqín Jǐngjiào liúxíng Zhōngguó bēi," or "Memorial of the Propagation in China of the Luminous Religion from Daqin"). Dated to 781 and written in both Chinese and Syriac, this Tang Chinese monument celebrates the accomplishments of the Assyrian Church of the East.

(Adapted from description for: Christie's London, Valuable Books and Manuscripts: Live Auction 19916, 14 July 2021 (London: Christie’s London, 2021), lot 139.)

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Processing Information

This summary description was created in April 2022 to provide information about unprocessed materials in Wilson Special Collections Library.

Encoded by: Dawne Howard Lucas, April 2022

Since August 2017, we have added ethnic and racial identities for individuals and families represented in collections. To determine identity, we rely on self-identification; other information supplied to the repository by collection creators or sources; public records, press accounts, and secondary sources; and contextual information in the collection materials. Omissions of ethnic and racial identities in finding aids created or updated after August 2017 are an indication of insufficient information to make an educated guess or an individual's preference for identity information to be excluded from description. When we have misidentified, please let us know at wilsonlibrary@unc.edu.

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