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Index of Forbidden Books: History and Examples
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Villanova’s Library: Revisiting its Past, Envisioning its Future

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Index of Forbidden Books: History and Examples


These cards, from the original Villanova library card catalog, are stamped with “On Church Index” above the call number.

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“The Index of Prohibited Books, Index Librorum Prohibitorum, established in 1557 by Pope Paul IV, was a list of books that Catholics were prohibited from reading on pain of excommunication. The books were prohibited because they contained material considered dangerous or contrary to faith or morals…[it] was abolished by Pope Paul VI in 1966 because it was considered to be contrary to the teaching of Vatican II concerning freedom of inquiry.” (New Catholic Encyclopedia v. 7, 2nd ed, 2003.)

At Villanova University this meant that anyone wishing to check out these books had to report to the Library Director’s office with a permission slip from their professor to request access to the book.
 

Philip II, King of Spain. Index Librorum Prohibitorum.
Antwerp: Ex officina Christophori Plantini, 1570
(Special Collections, Falvey Memorial Library)

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Ricchini, Tommaso Agostino. Index Librorum Prohibitorum.
Rome: Ex typographia rev. Cameræ apostolicæ, 1758
(Special Collections, Falvey Memorial Library)

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France, Anatole. Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard: Membre de l’Institut.
Paris: Calmann-Levy, ca. 1906
Donated by: Mrs. L. H. Parsons (7/1/1955)
(Special Collections, Falvey Memorial Library)

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Stendhal. Le Rouge et le Noir: Chronique du XIXe Siécle.  
Paris: G. Crès, 1922  
(Special Collections, Falvey Memorial Library)

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Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary.
Garden City, N.Y.: International Collectors Library, 1949
Donated by: Rev. L. Rongione, O.S.A. (1/22/1957)
(Special Collections, Falvey Memorial Library)

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