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An Early “Edition” Binding from Mexico

Missa Gothica seù Mozarabica... ad usum per celebris Mozárabum Sacelli Toleti á munificentissimo Cardinali Ximenio erecti.
Angelopoli [Puebla de los Angeles, Mexico]: Typis Seminarii Palafoxiani, 1770.

Numerous copies of this Mexican edition of the so-called “Mozarabic” liturgy, or “Missa Gothica,” bear original sheepskin bindings identical to this one. Therefore, it likely represents an early “edition" binding, that is, one of a large number of identical bindings provided by the publisher for all or most copies of the edition.

Predominant in Christian Spain from the seventh to the eleventh century, the Mozarabic rite was revived at Toledo and Alcalá de Henares in 1500 by Cardinal Francisco Ximénez de Cisneros (1436?–1517), the Archbishop of Toledo, founder of the University at Alcalá, and patron of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible. The binding is stamped with gilt borders and a central roundel depicting the “Investiture of St. Ildefonsus,” a miracle in which the Virgin Mary placed a golden chasuble upon the seventh-century Bishop of Toledo who had initiated the Mozarabic rite.

This roundel recalls the main altarpiece for the university chapel at Alcalá, The Investiture of Saint Ildefonsus, painted in 1514 by Juan de Borgoña (1470–1534) for Cardinal Ximénez de Cisneros – since 1969 one of the principal treasures of the Meadows Museum at SMU. St. Ildefonsus was the patron saint of both the University at Alcalá and the Cardinal himself. Fittingly, in Borgoña’s altarpiece, St. Ildefonsus is represented with features resembling those of Ximénez de Cisneros, thereby paying homage to the Cardinal as a champion of orthodoxy.