We recently bought a book that’s now 525 years old! It was written by the Scottish Jesuit John Hay (1547-1607), and its English title is “Certaine demandes concerning the Christian religion”. The book consists of 166 questions on points of religious controversy. It is still in its original binding:
Hay moved from Scotland to Rome in 1566 and spent most of the rest of his life on the Continent. He came back to Scotland in 1579, but there was now a lot of unease about the Jesuits and their teaching, because Scotland had become Protestant. Hay based himself in Aberdeenshire, but he attracted a lot of controversy and eventually returned to France.
“Certaine demandes” was first published in Paris in 1580. It became hugely influential on the Continent and a key text for supporters of the Counter-Reformation. This was a movement by the Catholics to overturn the Protestant Reformation and bring Roman Catholicism back.
A French translation appeared in 1583, and our new acquisition, published in 1585, is a copy of the German translation by the Swiss Catholic theologian Sebastian Werro (1555-1614). Have a look at the elaborate title page: