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   Volume III, Issue 1
October 2006   

On exhibit: Celebrating and commemorating two important anniversaries

The year 2006 marks two significant anniversaries for Villanova University—the 750th of the Grand Union of the Augustinians, founders and sponsors of the University, and the 500th anniversary of the first publication of the complete works of Saint Augustine. Both of these anniversaries are illustrated in exhibits on the second floor of Falvey Memorial Library until November 20.

The first exhibit, “Celebrating the 750th Anniversary of the Grand Union of the Augustinian Order: From medieval Italy to modern Villanova,” observes this important event in Augustinian history and for Villanova University's heritage as well. The beginning of the Augustinian Order differed from that of other religious orders founded by an individual or group. The roots of the Order
Blessed John Bonus (1169-1249), the founder of one of the groups that comprised the new Augustinian Order, had been a jester before becoming a religious hermit. His followers were organized into an order in 1217.
From Nicolaus Crusenius, Monasticon Augustinianum (Munich: Hertsroy, 1623
lay in the eremitical movement which began in Italy and France at the end of the 10th century.

In 1256, the Holy See united several groups of hermits who lived in small communities in Italy into a single order that took the Rule of Saint Augustine as its fundamental charter. The exhibit traces this history and continues with the story of the Order's coming to the United States and Villanova (Pa.) through England and Ireland.

The second exhibit is titled “Commemorating 500 Years of the Complete Works of Saint Augustine: From the 1506 Amerbach Edition to the Internet.” All study of Augustine is based on his writings that have come down to us, first, through manuscripts and, then, through printed editions. Augustine's works were not gathered into a single body of texts until the German-Swiss printer Johann Amerbach first published his edition of the Complete Works of Saint Augustine (in Latin, Opera Omnia) at Basel in 1506. All subsequent editions of the complete Augustinian corpus are based on this edition.

De Ciuitate Dei: Cum Commento. Basel: Johann Amerbach, 1490.
Incunabular edition of The City of God with commentaries of Thomas Valois and Nicholas Trivet. The woodcut depicts Augustine and the cities of God and Satan.

The exhibit features examples of Amerbach's work and the most important editions of Augustine's works published since 1506 to the computer-based sources of today, as well as the translations presently available in various languages. Since Villanova University is the North American institution of higher learning most devoted to the study of Augustine's writings and thought, it is appropriate to commemorate the 500 years of publication of his works at the University library.

The Augustinian Historical Institute and Falvey’s Special Collections are jointly sponsoring these exhibits, with Rev. Karl A. Gersbach, O.S.A, director of the Augustinian Historical Institute, and Bente Polites, Special Collections librarian, primarily responsible for content. Terri Ann Incrovato scanned materials and designed and executed the art work, and Kelly Rainey, student assistant in the Creative Design department, helped prepare the signs in the cases.

Contributed by Rev. Karl A. Gersbach, O.S.A.; images scanned by Teri Ann Incrovato

From the Exhibit Poster: The upper illustration shows Saint Augustine, the writer. The 13th century frescoes are from the chapel of St. Nicholas at the Basilica of St. Nicholas at Tolentino (Italy). The work is ascribed to the School of Rimini with Pietro da Rimini as the probable artist. The lower illustration depicts Augustine giving the Rule. It is from the series by Benozzo Gozzoli in the Augustinian church at San Gemignano (Italy).