Almanacs are superstitious
Year mention: 1617
Almanacks ; Zodiac ; zodiacal signs
Heretical image

Dangerous image of a false doctrine; Superstitious; Scandal of the morals

Molanus, Johannes
Zodiac Man from a British Almanac, c. 1415-1420
English folding almanac in Latin. Wellcome Collection, MS.8932

In chapter 26 of book 2, another example of dangerous images is presented: Molanus condemns the use of Almanacks, a well-established practice at the time, by doctors, because they often have zodiacal signs on their covers or inside them. Such images have been judged superstitious by St. Augustine and are therefore to be considered promotors of a false doctrine. Despite this condemnation, Molanus expresses the great respect he has for doctors.

“I would almost have forgotten this image which our doctors are accustomed to place in front of their ephemeris, which are called almanacks in Arabic, had it not been for the general prohibition contained in the words of the Council: ‘one should not display any dangerous image of a false doctrine and a dangerous error.’ It is, therefore, despite not being sacred images, but since the blessed Augustine denounced this as superstitious, I am happy to say something about it out of the respect I have for the doctors.

“Pene exciderat mihi ea imago quam Medici nostri ponere consueverunt ante Ephimerides suas, quae vulgo Arabica voce Almanack dicuntur, nisi eam ad memoriam revocassat generalis illa negatio quae est in verbis Concilii, ita ut nullae falsi dogmatis et pericolosi erroris statuantur. Quare cum B. Augustinus hanc superstitionis arguere videatur, libenter di ipsa aliquid dicam, ob honermem quem Medicis debeo, quamuis non sit de numero sacrarum imaginum.”

Quoted Authorities

St. Augustine, Ecclesiastici, 38, 10 St. Augustine, De haeresibus, 70 Council of Trent

falsi dogmatis et pericolosi erroris
Date mention

Historical Location

Iconclass Number

Molanus, De historia sanctarum imaginum et picturarum (1617), book 2, ch. 26, 97

Molanus 1996, 194.

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