Ask A Librarian

A New Gift for the Rare Book Room

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
July 31st, 2017

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

Posed photo of Mike Murphy, Stewart Plein, and John Cuthbert

A seventeenth century book has found a new home in the WVU Rare Book Room.  WVU alumnus, Mike Murphy, above left, with Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian, and John Cuthbert, Director of the West Virginia and Regional History Center, recently donated a religious text published in Seville, Spain by Ioannis (Juan) de Cardenas of the Society of Jesus, a Jesuit monastic order.  

A graduate of Morgantown’s St. Francis High School, Mike followed in his family’s footsteps when he attended WVU.  Mike’s father, Joseph Murphy, taught Foreign Languages at WVU, and two of Mike’s brothers also attended.  Murphy graduated in 1985 with a BS in Landscape Architecture and a minor in Geography.  Today Murphy is a Member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, a writer[1] and book collector.

Although Spanish in origin, Cardena’s book was printed in Latin.  Translated, the lengthy title, Geminum sidus mariani diadematis, sive duplex disputatio, de infinitâ dignitate Matris Dei, atque de eius gratia habituali infinita simpliciter, reads, Mariani Geminus, the Images, the Star of a Crown, or a Disputation about the Infinite Dignity of the Mother of God is Twofold, and Moved Him from his Habitual Grace of the Infinite in an Absolute.  The text is dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Printed in 1660, the book is the first edition of the Geminum Sidus Mariani DiadematisBound in vellum, a soft leather resulting from the tanning process and typically pale in color, is made from calfskin, shown below left.  Although it is in excellent condition, the passage of time is evident on its binding.  The title page, below right, shows an engraved colophon, or vignette, documenting the printer as Ioannem de Ossuna.

Vellum book cover

Title page of Geminum sidus mariani diadematis...


Decorative chapter initials, below, add to the text of this theological work by the renowned Spanish Jesuit scholar Juan Cardenas.

Decorative chapter initial in Geminum sidus mariani diadematis...



Decorative printer's ornament in Geminum sidus mariani diadematis...

Decorative printer’s ornaments, above, and below the Resources, from the Geminum Sidus Mariani Diadematis.


The Rare Book Room collection is made possible by generous donors like Mike Murphy.  Since its founding in 1951, decades of donors have influenced how the library shapes and expands the Rare Book Collection, from a rare seventeenth century book like this one, to the Shakespeare Folios donated by alumnus Arthur Dayton, to the 20th century Isaac Asimov Science Fiction collection donated by alumnus Larry Shaver, and Asimov fan Carlos Patterson.  As Mike Murphy reports, he spent “many enjoyable hours wandering the stacks of the old Wise Library.” Mike also encourages other alumni to consider a gift of rare or special books to help build and develop the Rare Book Collection at WVU.

Please call or make an appointment with the West Virginia and Regional History Center to make a donation or to view this book, and others like it.



Images taken by Jessica Eichlin, West Virginia and Regional History Center


Catalog record:

Decorative printer's ornament in Geminum sidus mariani diadematis...


[1] Read Mike Murphy’s recent article on WV author, Breece D’J Pancake, “American Myth: The Short, Beautiful Life of Breece D’J Pancake,” at The


Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>