Dormi secure. Louvain, c. 1483

JOHANNES DE VERDENA (d. 1437).
Sermones ‘dormi secure’ de tempore.
[Louvain: Johannes de Westfalia, c. 1483]. (07023)

Compiled by a Franciscan friar, this collection of 71 sermons was intended to provide sample texts for those preachers who could not create their own. The nickname of the collection, “dormi secure” (“sleep soundly”), may have implied jokingly that its users were too ignorant or lazy to compose new sermons on short deadlines. Although it was a highly successful book, appearing in dozens of editions, Martin Luther dismissed it as “donkey dung, introduced by the devil.” 

Bridwell Library’s copy of this rare Louvain edition was rubricated with elaborate flourishes and faces by an early user who signed his name “Everaert” in two places. On the exhibited page, his name appears in the folds of the scroll surrounding the initial L. Elsewhere the book was inscribed “Bibliothecae Ninivensis,” indicating that it belonged to the Praemonstratensian Abbey at Ninove, in the diocese of Ghent.

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Printing in the Netherlands
Dormi secure. Louvain, c. 1483