Les oeuvres spirituelles de Monsieur de Bernieres Louvigni

Today's blog post features a rather interesting item that we've been including in displays for years.

The book is called Les oeuvres spirituelles de Monsieur de Bernieres Louvigni (French: The spiritual works of Mister de Bernieres Louvigni), by one Jean de Bernieres Louvigni, the modern spelling of which is Bernières Louvigny.

On the outside, it looks like a normal enough little book, but once you get past the first few pages, you find someone has glued the remaining pages together, and cut out a section in the centre, perhaps for smuggling purposes.

Jean de Bernières Louvigny (1602-1659) served as a treasurer of France, and was a lay member of the Third Order of Saint Francis. He founded an hermitage in Caen, hosting visitors searching for an "path to the interior experience of the divine"(1) (on an unrelated note, the hermitage also greatly contributed to the development of the Catholic Church in New France (now Canada)).

In 1687, quietism was declared a heresy by Pope Innocent XI, and all works suspected of it were placed on the Index librorum prohibitorum, including the works of de Bernières Louvigny in 1689, thirty years after his death. Although many states enforced the Index, France was not one of them, preferring to enforce its own censorship lists. The title page below says it was printed with "privilege and approbation" in 1714.

It seems likely that some time had passed before the interior was cut out, so that the uproar over quietism had faded from memory. Any potential smuggler would have wanted to draw as little attention to him or herself as possible, and using a blacklisted book would hardly have fit the bill!

Call number: A0393

Front cover of book (plain brown leather)

Title page of book

cut-out in centre of book

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