8vo (165 x 90 mm). , 340,  pp. Title printed across two pages, in red and black. Folding engraved frontispiece and three engraved plates (one loose), by and after Peter Maÿer of Freiburg. Typographic head-piece ornaments and initial borders, woodcut head- and tail-pieces. Errata page at end. Some browning and foxing. A small engraved Andachtsbild of S. Maria Hulff, signed by I. Busch of Augsburg, printed on yellow paper, loosely inserted. 19th-century pink paper boards, covers panelled in blind with feather tools at corners, red-speckled edges; quite worn, front free endleaf removed. Provenance: contemporary inscription at foot of title, “Author ist Philip Iacobus Abbas”; unidentified probably monastic 19th-century inkstamp on title verso. ***
only edition of the first German translation of a 12th-century hagiography of St. Ulrich of Zell (ca. 1029-1093), a Cluniac reformer who founded the Benedictine monastery of St. Ulrich in the Black Forest (and that of the female convent of Bollschweil, later transferred to Sölden). The translator and compiler Philip Jakob Steyrer was Abbot of St. Peter in the Black Forest, where his scholarly activities included the construction of a new library, and the purchase of thousands of books and manuscripts; the collection is now part of the University Library of Freiburg im Breisgau (cf. Raffelt, pp. 14-16). In his preface to the reader Steyrer states that both father Pinius (the Jesuit Jean Pien) and Mabillon had published the Vita, but that this is its first appearance in German. He considers it worthy of publication because its anonymous author had based it on the testimony of monks who had lived with the Saint, and on the accounts of beneficiaries of his miracles. Steyrer carefully explains how he has handled the text, from which he has removed only some lengthy tangential passages which he deems of no interest to the modern reader.
Also known as Ulrich of Regensburg, or Ulrich of Cluny, the Saint was one of the most important German representatives of the Cluny reform, which rejected secular power, urged a return to the original strict Benedictine rule and its cultivation of personal spirituality, and postulated that worship should be the cleric’s principal duty (hence the elaboration of ever lengthier daily liturgy), to the detriment of manual labor, which was left to lay brethren. The height of Cluniac influence was reached in the 11th and 12th centuries, precisely during Ulrich’s lifetime. Born at Regensburg into a wealthy family, godchild of Heinrich III, Holy Roman Emperor, Ulrich studied at St. Emmeran in Regensburg and later served for a time at the Imperial court. After a spell as Archddeacon at Friesing, he was moved by the Cluniac reform to undertake a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He entered the Abbey of Cluny in 1061, and at some time after 1070 he founded the first Cluniac community in the German-speaking lands, a priory at Rüeggisberg, followed by a monastery, located first at Grüningen near Breisach, which was moved in 1087 to Zell in the Schwarzwald. St. Ulrich’s remained the only Cluniac cloister on the right bank of the Rhine. It declined already in the 13th century, was absorbed by other abbeys during the Reformation, and was dissolved in 1806, during secularization.
To the Leben, in 26 chapters, Steyrer added an historical update of events concerning the monastery, including biographies of its priors, from Ulrich’s death to the present day; a history of the Saint’s Feast day, and a section of local litanies, prayers, and meditations. The folding etched and engraved frontispiece by the Freiburg engraver Peter Mayer (1718-1800) shows a bird’s-eye view of the monastery with the Black Forest in the background, and in the heavens Saints Ulrich, Peter and Paul (the cloister’s patrons) and angels, one holding a book with two large eyes, presumably a reference to St. Ulrich’s blindness at the end of his life. The smaller plates show a view of Grüningen, the first location of the monastery, number-keyed to captions; a circular Romanesque courtyard of statues surrounding a carved marble baptismal font, the latter being one of the only 11th or 12th century objects preserved in the monastery after the church was rebuilt in 1741 (it is visible in the garden in the frontispiece, and still survives); and a view of the Saint’s baroque tomb within the new church.
OCLC locates one copy in an American library (Mount Angel Abbey, Oregon). Cf. Albert Raffelt, ed., Unfreiwillige Förderung: Abt Philipp Jakob Steyrer und die Universitätsbibliothek Freiburg i.Br. (2002, digital edition), pp. 49-50, 62-64, 87-92; cf. Thieme-Becker 24:493. Item #2912