Dialogo da Esfera Celeste, e Terrestre para uso das escolas da Congregação do Oratoria na Real Casa de N. S. das Necessidades. P. João CHEVALIER.

Dialogo da Esfera Celeste, e Terrestre para uso das escolas da Congregação do Oratoria na Real Casa de N. S. das Necessidades. Lisbon: Royal Press, 1807.

8vo, in sheets (sheet size 308 x 423 mm). Two and one-quarter sheets, signed A-C (A-B8 C2). 36 pp. First two leaves signed, catchwords on every page. Woodcut coat of arms on title. Armorial watermark; deckle edges. Slight soiling along fold of outer sheet (A), else fine. ***

A rare pedagogical dialogue on the earth and solar system, printed for distribution to pupils in the schools of the Oratorians in Lisbon. The short work was first published in 1751 (although the present edition is the only one recorded by OCLC).

Founded in Rome in 1575, the Congregation of the Oratorians of St. Philip Neri was a society of priests and laymen who lived in independent, self-governing communities. Each congregation could choose to focus on one ministry, whether service to the poor, to the sick, or education. The Congregation of the House of Necessities in Lisbon founded in 1745, stood out among those houses dedicated to teaching; the exams taken by their students carried the same weight as those of the Jesuits, and their school, housed in the lavish palace of Nossa Senhora das Necessidades, was considered among the best of the Oratorian establishments in Portugal (cf. historical note on the Congregação do Oratório de Lisboa, Arquivo Nacional, Torre da Tombo (http://digitarq.arquivos.pt/details?id=1375767).

Chapter I of this booklet covers the earth, latitude and longitude, continents, oceans, and political-geographical divisions. The discussion, in catechism form, is largely secular, with occasional exceptions, such as the answer to the question “Which continent is the most famous?” – “Asia, being the birthplace of Christ.” A passage devoted to explaining why America is called the “novo mundo” mentions Columbus (Christovao Colon) and Pedro Álvares Cabral, “discoverer” of Brazil (pp. 8-9). In Chapter II (pp. 23 ff.), treating the “celestial sphere,” the author strays further from modern scientific knowledge, describing a Tycho Brahean system in which a concentric system of spheres or a “great bowl of sky” circles the earth.
The hemispheres and climate zones, the zodiac, solar and lunar eclipses, phases of the moon, planets and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn are all briefly described.

OCLC lists a single copy, at the Newberry. Cf. Banha de Andrade, Vernei e a cultura do seu tempo (Lisbon 1965), pp. 260-61 & 701. Item #2840

Price: $875.00

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