4to (200 x 139 mm). Collation: ¶8 A-B4 C-Q8 R4 (R4 blank). , 113,  leaves. Index in two columns. Title woodcut of Saints Peter and Paul, woodcut floriated initials. Wormtracks in gutters, scattered dampstaining, dark marginal stains to corners in quires K-L. Contemporary vellum, manuscript spine title, stained, upper cover gnawed.***
first edition of a minutely detailed vernacular guide to the intricacies of Mass and religious practice, intended for rural and less educated priests and those without mentors to teach them the do’s and don’t’s of orthodox Catholicism. The density of the text, printed in small roman type, itself vividly conveys the mass of knowledge and usage with which a cleric had to familiarize himself in order to avoid embarrassing or even heretical errors.
Encyclopaedic in scope, the lengthy treatise provides detailed instructions for a wide range of situations: which prayer to use when, how to hold one’s hands when praying, when and how to kneel, preparation of the priest for Mass, ritual gestures, how to take Confession, when, where, and how to say the Credo, what kind of voice to use in the different parts of Mass (some parts are to be said “secretly”), dates of and instructions for every festival of the year, occasions and rituals for different kinds of Mass, processions and their purpose, the functions and roles of Deacons, Subdeacons, Acolytes, and so on. One of the more unusual chapters treats colors, with individual sections on each color and its appropriate uses in the church and for vestments. Another chapter is devoted to coping with “defectos” or mishaps that can occur during Mass (the bread has gone mouldy, the wine has turned to vinegar, the priest makes a mistake, or one’s soul is not disposed for piety).
The second leaf contains an errata list on the recto, and on the verso the Licencia, dated 4 February 1583. The subtitle states that the text was “newly rendered easier to use, and revised” by Ruiz Alcoholado, a priest from Toledo. Although this, and the date of the privilege, imply the existence of a previous edition, this seems to refer to a different, earlier manual by the same author, the Tractado muy util y curioso para saber bien rezar el officio romano que diuulgo Pio V (Toledo: Pedro López de Haro, 1584). That work’s intention, according to its subtitle, was to provide instructions for the new Roman office (following the standardization of Mass imposed in 1570 by Pius V) with explanations of the rubrics of the Breviary. While both books helped to guide confused clerics through the revisions of ritual and through the temporal thickets imposed by the new Gregorian calendar, Ruiz Alcoholado (who also published a treatise on sundials and a perpetual calendar), refers to the earlier book in his letter to the reader, stating that the present text is shorter, since he did not need to cover all the same material.
A useful twenty-page index concludes the work. A Latin edition, apparently of this work, was published in Geneva in 1637 (Ordo celebrandi missas solemnes et privatas ac alia officia ad eas spectantia iuxta ritum missalis & caeremonialis Romani). OCLC and USTC locate no copies in American libraries. Palau 51672 & 281472; Martín Abad, La Imprenta en Alcalá de Henares, 3:1046; Anglés y Subirá, Catálogo musical de la Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid, 2:10; RELICS (Renaissance Liturgical Imprints: A Census), 4536; USTC 341460; CCPB (Catálogo Colectivo del Patrimonio Bibliográfico Español) 5015-6. Item #2941