ST. BENEDICT THE AFRICAN (RELIGION.) BENAGASI Y LUXAN, JOSEPH JOAQUIN. Vida del Poderoso Negro San Benitio de Palermo, Descripta en Dies Cantos Joco-serios del Reducissimo Metro de Seguidillas, con Argumentos en Octavas. Full-page engraved portrait of the black Saint, half-page woodcut head and tail-pieces; text within an engraved border. [xx], 1-136 pages. 8vo, original full vellum, with "Obras de Benegas" in ink on the spine; fore-edge of the front cover "nibbled" otherwise an exceptional copy. [Place, date.]
first edition of this "serio-comic" life of San Benito of Palermo, sometimes called "Benedict the Black," or "Benedict the African." Benito was born the son of African slaves in Sicily in 1526. The present volume is a highly unorthodox rendering of the saint's hagiography, told in verse, "in the style of seguidillas" a song-form of flamenco! Benito was freed by his master when he was an adolescent and became a shepherd. At the age of twenty he met and fell in with a group of Franciscan monks. When he was first admitted to the order, the Franciscans made him their cook-how history repeats itself! And what a cook he must have been, because early references to him state that he performed "great miracles" while cooking, which may well have taken the form of herbal soups, teas etc. He was briefly made the head of novitiates, but was quickly returned to the kitchen. Benito was held in such regard that people came from far and wide; priests and theologians, and eventually the Viceroy of Sicily himself. Benito died in 1559 and was canonized by Pope Pius VII on May 24, 1807.
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