The tears of Mary Magdalene

15. Sermon preached in Vinegia on the Feast of St Mary Magdalene 1539

By Bernardino Ochino da Siena

Translated by Patrick Colbourne OFM Cap

Translator’s note: This translation is based on the introduction, text and footnotes which were published by P. Costanzo Cargnoni O.F.M. Cap. In I Frati Cappuccini: Documenti e testimonianze dell primo secolo, Edizioni Frate Indovino, Perugia, vol III/1, pp.2290-2306. The only additions to the notes made by the translator are references to Francis of Assisi: The Early Documents, edited by Regis Armstrong, O.F.M. Cap., J. A. Wayne Hellmann, O.F.M. and William J. Short O.F.M. Conv., New York City Press, New York, London, Manila, for an English version of quotations from the Writings or Biographies of St Francis.

Introduction by Costanzo Cargnoni OFM Cap

Bernardino Ochino delivered a sermon in Venice on 22nd July 1539 in which he commented on the passage in the Gospel that speaks of the repentant woman whom he identified as Mary Magdalene. When speaking about Mary Magdalene who was a repentant woman and a contemplative, he developed the notion of how a soul can find spiritual peace and quiet during life on earth. He dealt with it by composing an imaginary conversation at court between a noble Lord who presents the topic and some wise courtesans who say that peace comes about from calming down the senses, the knowledge of God and heavenly things, listening to a fervent evangelical preacher, the practice of charitable works, conversion to Christ Crucified, sincere sorrow for personal sin and the contemplation of Christ crucified.

The proof for reaching this conclusion is attributed to the repentant woman when she responds to the question put to her by the noble Lord. The reply is exemplified by describing the personal experience of Mary Magdalene. She found peace not so much in superficial considerations “but in the experience of tears”, that is, in crying over her own sins “at the feet of Christ”. Only after this purification of the heart was she able to contemplate God and Christ’s Passion.

Ochino said that this sermon was specifically aimed at women who wished to imitate Mary Magdalene in her conversion leaving lust aside to undertake charitable works for the poor and for orphans.

15. Sermon preached in Vinegia on the Feast of St Mary Magdalene 1539[1]

5796 When reading the Holy Gospels, I discovered that Christ gave St John the Baptist the highest praise[2] for having received the gift of prophesy: Inter natos mulierum non surrexit maior propheta Ioanne Baptista.[3] I saw that Christ praised Nathaniel for his simplicity: Hic est vere Israelita, in quo dolus non est.[4] I heard him praise the Centurion for his faith: Non inveni tantam fidem in Israel.[5] He praised the publican for his humility: Descendit hic iustificatus in domum sum.[6] He praised the Gentile woman for her steadfastness saying: O mulier, magna est fides tua.[7] However, I did not find anyone that received greater praise because of her genuine love than the commendation that was given to the wonderful sensations of the penitent woman whom today the Church invokes as a saint and to whom Christ said: Remittuntur ei peccata multa, quoniam dilexit multum.[8]

[The sinful woman who was forgiven: a complex exegesis]

Christ said that the sinful woman, Magdalene, made him very happy. You know that it is not easy to understand this Gospel passage, immo it is very hard to grasp its meaning. Nevertheless, I want to discover what it means (a little silence, please)[9] and so I ask you; who do you think was guilty of more sins, the sinful woman Magdalene who was vane, lustful, full of sin and iniquity; or the Pharisee who was a religious man, observed the law and was well versed in Scripture? I certainly believe that you would say that the sinful woman was the one who was guilty of the most sins. However, this may not be true because her sins were sins of the flesh whereas the sins of the Pharisees were within him and they were greater because he is a man and she a woman. Her sins were the result of ignorance and his came from malice. He prided himself in belonging to the religious state whereas she was a lay person.[10] He was proud whereas she was humble. Christ was at table in the house of the Pharisee, when she threw herself at Christ’s feet crying over her sins and washed Christ’s holy feet with her tears, drying them with her hair and kissing them. When the Pharisee saw this, he said to himself: Hic si esset propheta sciret utique quae et quails est mulier quae tangit eum, quia peccatrix est.[11] He was shocked and did not believe that Christ could be the Son of God whereas the sinful woman did recognise this.

[A conversation “at court” about what gives the greatest peace on earth]

5797 Christ, to whom all the secrets of our heart are open, answered him: “There was a gentleman who[12] had two debtors. One owed him fifty denarii, but we can call it fifty scudi, and the other owed him five hundred. Neither of them had the means to repay him so he gave each of them a gift. Which of them do you think would love that gentleman the most? The Pharisee replied: “I think quia is cui plus donavit: I suppose the one to whom he gave the most.” Christ replied: Recte iudicasti.[13] If this is so a fortiori he would have loved him more. The present situation is similar: as I came into your house you did not kiss me on the forehead. Yet she has not stopped kissing me feet. You did not even anoint my head, whereas this sinful woman has made me comfortable by anointing me with costly ointment.[14] This woman who has been converted recognises me as being the Son of God, while you do not think that I am even a prophet and that I do not know about this woman’s sins. Therefore, I tell you that remittuntur ei peccata multa, quia dilexit multum.[15]

Note how it was not enough for Christ to name her, but he also became her advocate. The Pharisee should have loved Christ much more than she loved him, since the sinful woman only had about fifty sins, whereas the Pharisee had five hundred.[16] This is because this woman’s sins involve the delights and urges of the senses. However, in the sight of God the Pharisee’s sins are much more serious, because they came from the depths of the heart, in pride, in ambition, in vainglory, in his own complacency, in hypocrisy and in curiosity [of the sin of the other]. Therefore, he should have loved Christ more than she did because he had been forgiven more sins.

5798 There is another explanation that has a different meaning. Someone might say: Magdalene’s sins were greater. This might be true. However, I would go even further and say that if the Pharisee had no sins, he would be more obliged to love God because God had prevented him from committing sin. As St Augustine says, on the cross Christ not only forgave our sins, verum etiam all the countless sins that we could have committed but did not commit because we were prevented by the grace of God. There were many sins that could be committed in the future but God out of his pure simple generosity preserves us from committing them, because left to ourselves we would have nothing but sin and would deserve hell a thousand times. If we have been protected from this, we should love him all the more.

However, to give a more simple and pure interpretation and to adhere to Christ’s words in the Gospel,[17] I believe that the Pharisee was not one of those wicked Pharisees, but someone who was religious and catholic. Even when he said: Hic si esset propheta[18] etc. he said it out of zealous love for Christ and because he did not want anyone to be scandalised if they saw Christ being touched by a sinful woman. I note that he had invited Christ to his home, welcomed him and fed him. I also see how in the parable[19] of the two debtors Christ said that dimisit utrisque,[20] meaning that he had God’s grace and that his sins had already been forgiven.

Turning to Magdalene Christ said: Remittuntur ei peccata multa, quoniam dilexit multum. Remittuntur ei peccata sua,[21] all of her sins were forgiven, and she felt great love. She had been forgiven many more sins than some other sinners. She had seven demons cast out at the time of her conversion. Some say that there is a great discrepancy between Luke, Mark and Matthew with one saying that there was only one woman, the other saying that she was Martha’s sister and the other saying that there were three women.[22] St Gregory maintains that this woman is one and the same individual and I agree with him.[23] Therefore let us take up this holy Gospel and when she comes to acknowledge God and turns to Christ through love you will never see anyone who is more filled with emotion or more in love than her. This was so true that she merited to be known as Christ’s sister as I understand it. Listen to what I have to say.

5799 Once upon a time there was a noble Lord who was rich, powerful and gifted, surrounded with beautiful things, kept company with virtuous people and abounded in pleasures. One day he went out to spend free time with his courtiers and experienced great joy of soul and great peace and contentment of mind. Because of this he said to his companions: “I would like to know what it is that could give a person the most happiness in this life. I do not mean when he is in his heavenly homeland, since that pertains to God and consists in the clear vision of God. We are not talking about that now. I am only talking about our life as it is now. Where can we find our contentment and peace?”

One of his servants replied: “I will tell you, my Lord, what that is. You know that what causes our senses to enjoy peace and quiet is to feed and nourish them on the object of each one of them. For the eyes that is beauty and colour. For hearing it is sound, music and harmony. For the taste it is sweetness that satisfies the appetite. The same goes for all the other senses since each one of our faculties has its own object. Each of them acquires peace and contentment and discovers happiness and joy. As for you, my Lord, because you have concerned yourself in these days with satisfying all your appetites you have become very happy and contented.”

Another one said: “I believe that the way to achieve this is by means of the simple knowledge of God and of heavenly things, because it is in the source of truth that we come to know all truth. This is so because we dwell in the prison of the body, and due to sin this prison is dark and obscure and we cannot see the light of truth except the little bit that enters through the windows of our senses. This was not the way it was in the state of innocence, because even though mankind was still in the prison of the body his prison was open to things above him. He knew God and loved him and through this he understood other truths, a condition that sin took away from him, and consequentially he could not be at peace or be happy until the knowledge of God had been restored to him. In the meantime, the Prophet says: Liquefacta est anima mea.[24] Since you, my Lord, have come to understand this in these days I am certain that this is why you are so contented.”

5800 A third one said: “This is not the answer. I believer that you need an evangelical preacher[25] who has Christ in the depths of his heart and who like a glowing piece of iron would make the flames of love sparkle in human hearts, that would set us alight and separate us from worldly things, ita that we would not desire[26] to hear anything but the word of God and to be nourished by it, just like the people who ran to hear Christ preach without thinking about eating or drinking. Christ himself said as much: Non in solo pane vivit homo, sed in omni verbo quod procedit ex ore Dei.[27] The word of God is what gives peace and nourishment. You have heard it said: Vivus est sermo Dei et efficax omni gladio ancipiti, and it pierces usque ad divisionem animae et spiritus.[28] The word of God is living and is a sharper instrument than any sword and pierces the human heart so as to divide the soul from the body. Therefore, my Lord, when you went to the sermon of that genuine evangelical and inflamed preacher you found peace in God’s word, hinc est you experienced peace and you felt happy.”

Someone else said: “This is not the cause. I will tell you what it is. I believe with certainty that an act of kindness towards one’s neighbour that is performed out of charity is more meritorious and pleasing to God than anything else that you could do. This is why when you do this it makes you feel so happy. Remember what Christ said: Quod uni ex minimis meis fecistis, mihi fecistis.[29] Think of how if you knew that you had given Christ something to eat, given him something to wear, given him a part of what you owned, how contented you would feel. He accepts the works of mercy done to a poor person as being done to himself. This is why he adds: Esurivi et dedistis mihi manducare etc.[30] Therefore anyone who performs works of mercy like this when he sees how pleasing this is to God feels blessed, happy and contented. As for you, my Lord, because in these days you have done more of these kinds of charitable acts than usual, you feel and experience so such happiness and joy.”

5801 Someone else replied: “I have another opinion. Nothing can give a person greater peace than coming back to God and being truly sorry for his sins. Worms have been eating into his fearful conscience. While a person is in the state of sin, he will enjoy no rest. He will never be at peace. He will always be anxious, afraid and worried about God’s judgement. He will be consumed[31] by anger and hatred so that he will never feel good. However, once he turns to God and repents of his sins, he will feel relieved and free of the bonds of Lucifer and set free from the chains of hell. Indeed, he will wish that he had a thousand golden chains to tie him to Christ’s yoke. Because of this, my Lord, as you have turned to Christ, repented and are sorry for your sins, you feel blessed, happy and contented.”

The last one said: “Neither is this the cause. The only cause is the sight of Christ hanging on the cross for us. In this vision when it is viewed with the eyes of the heart through faith, you can see the extent of his ardent love for us by being both God and man and becoming our brother, dressing in our flesh, sharing in what we suffer and being persecuted, enduring so much anxiety and persecution in this world for thirty years and, finally, in order to repay our debt, ascending the cross to wash us, save and cleanse us with his blood. If a creature considers this ardently, he will clearly know the intimate charity of God, which did not stop at giving him existence but went further by creating him in his image and likeness. This was not all. He governed him, guarded him and preserved him from sin and gave him so many gifts every day, ultimately offering himself on the cross when he could not give any thing more, to repay our debt. Thus, the soul will feel inflamed with love and feelings of genuine gratitude towards Christ. It will decide to love no one but Christ on the cross because he has been so sweet in dealing with him. Therefore, my Lord, seeing that you have been given these days to contemplate Christ for a longer time than usual, you should feel at peace, happy and joyful.”

Now let us take a break and then see[32] what causes us to experience peace.

[The comments of the sinful woman]

5802 While this nobleman was out walking at leisure, he came across a cave where there was a woman whose only clothing was her hair and who was alone. The place is called La Baume, near Marseille and I have been there.[33] The woman asked him: “What are you looking for in this lonely place and what are you thinking about?” The Lord replied: “I am looking for what it is that makes a person happy and contented in this life.” The lady, who was the sinful woman who had been converted and had repented, said: “Good, what do your wise men say?” The Lord replied: “One says that it is sensuality, another knowledge of God, another listening to God’s word, another performing acts of mercy towards one’s neighbour, another turning back to God and being sorry for one’s sins, another gazing on Christ lying dead on the cross out of love for us”. Magdalene the penitent said: “You should know that none of these can give complete peace and contentment to creatures. I can assure you of this because I have experienced this.

The first thing I have to say is that sensuality will not give you this because I believe that there has never been, nor will there be, any woman in the world that you could imagine who was as sensual as I was. This is because a woman like that turns her back on God, and turns to the world, no longer keeping God before her eyes, but looking at what is futile and delighting in it and thus becoming a shameful person, without respect or concern for anyone.

5803 Even if someone pays no attention to God, they might have a father and mother and will not do anything bad out of respect for them and not to embarrass them. This was not how it was with me. Not only had I no thought for God but I had no father or mother whom I had to consider. If someone has no father or mother and no possessions, she might be constrained by what she needs and not think about some things being worthless. However, I was wealthy, noble, young and beautiful. You should know that it is dangerous just to look at a woman even if you do not take her. I was not satisfied with being beautiful. I had to artificially decorate and redecorate myself. I bathed and bathed again. I probed and prodded. I scraped and scraped again. I used one kind of finery and then another. I tried one kind of tan and then another. One day I tried one style and tried a different one the next. I tried so many shades of red, tints, perfumes, solutions, milk mixtures, (You know, my lady, although these are not like the laws of Scotus you seem to be amazed that I know something about all of them.)[34] I spared no amount of effort in making myself look beautiful. To maintain my weight, I ate de cibis domini.[35] When I went to Church it was to be seen publicly in order to tempt, to melt souls and place them into the hands of Lucifer. I tried everything just like Solomon did.[36]

In the end I was not happy, because the more use I made of my senses, the more I desired to possess the objects of the senses. On the other hand, I never found myself at peace since I continually felt myself being eaten up with shame or human respect or the fear of hell, or thinking about death, or thinking about some weakness so that I was never satisfied.

5804 As far a coming to know God, I tried to do this. I wanted to force myself to understand the truth. However, our intellect does not go that far because it is incapable of reaching such heights and comprehending such goodness. After my conversion I experienced some such delight. You certainly come to know that this does not make us happy.

A person is not made happy by hearing the word of God even it if preached by an evangelical preacher not even when it is taught by those who are saints. He needs to hear the voice of Christ, the Son of the living God. For some time, this nourished me, satisfied and instructed me. However, I did not feel happy.

Not even acts of mercy were enough to make me feel peaceful, even when I performed them not just for the poor, but for Christ himself who I welcomed into my home as a guest, together with his disciples and the Madonna more than once. Then, in the Pharisee’s house, at the end of his life I anointed him with precious oil. However, this did not bring me peace. When I returned to God, repenting of my sins and being sorry for them because I had offended him, and Christ said to me: Remittuntur tibi peccate tua,[37] and this was a great gift as countless sins were being forgiven, this made me feel quite contented. However, know for certain that it needed more than that.

As to what you said about gazing on Christ on the cross making a person blessed, I say: that I saw him placed on the cross with my material eyes, and was present together with his Mother, when he was crucified between two thieves, and yet I did not feel contented.

 

Let me stop for a while and then continue. I have a strong recommendation for those who have been converted. They are standing at the door. I make this recommendation as strongly as I can.[38]

[The greatest peace on earth is to be found in “tears of joy”]

5805 This holy penitent, this woman who had lived such a lax life and who had changed from being very lustful to being perfect, said that our happiness does not come about for any of these things, but that real happiness came from shedding tears.

However, you know that there are many kinds of tears. Some come about through being afraid, others through being compassionate. I am not talking about these kinds of tears, but about tears of joy. These are sweet, tender and make me rejoice and when I saw the love that God had for me, and that he sent his only Son to save me and to make me his spouse I was moved to be inflamed with lively ardent love for I realise that I had been in the darkness of sin and in the clutches of Lucifer. One day while I was where Christ was preaching I stood up in the middle of the sermon so that everyone would see me and say, “Look at the beautiful woman,” and then I sat myself down at the feet of Christ.” There she remained jus like you women who are in front of the preacher with the men behind you and I see that there are no men that steal your place or take away what is yours.[39]

What he said was so effective that I was converted in a flash, just as Peter was converted by a single glance after he had denied Christ. Take note, my city that a sinner who has turned away from sin is like a bow. While you have your hand on the bow the arrow will do nothing in your hand. However, when you take your hand away the arrow will fly away in a circle and pierce something that is far away.[40] This is what happens in the case of a sinner. While he is far away, he feels the wound made by the arrow of love. He recognises his wretchedness and considers the multitude of his sins, and he humbles himself most shamefully in the sight of God, knowing that he is not worthy of such enlightenment and such grace. This does not happen to someone who keeps the precepts and lives according to the law, since he does not have so many pressing reasons to humble himself as does the sinner. Thus, he does not appreciate God’s gifts so strongly.

5806 However, when this women who had sinned followed Christ the preacher and gazed on him with her eyes, she like Magdalene became totally enflamed with love for him, to such an extent that she no longer valued pleasure, was no longer contented with worldly things or vanity or lust but was only concerned with being sorry for her sins. We can easily believe that when she returned home she took all of her decorations, makeup, wigs, perfume and the like and spread them out before herself before burning them, and that she said: “Oh my vanity, which could have sent me to the depths of hell and through which I have been the cause of the fall of many poor souls by giving bad example and provoking so much evil, I do not want to love you any longer or to take pleasure in you. I just want to love only my Christ and to praise him: Vulnerasti me in uno oculorum tuorum.[41] Therefore in the time that I have left I only want to cry because I feel sorry, but also to cry with joy. When I see how much Christ loves me, I want to love him alone and nothing else.”[42]

She went to the Pharisee’s house to cry over her sins at the feet of Christ. Thus you always picture Magdalene at the feet of Christ. She is at his feet when he is preaching. In the Pharisee’s house she is at his feet. In her own home she is at his feet. At the cross she is at his feet. At the grave she is at his feet. Wherever you meet her she is always crying.[43] She cried when Christ was preaching, and she was converted. She cried in her own home when she put away her ostentation. She cried in the house of the Pharisee. She cried at the death of Lazarus, her brother. She cried when Christ said goodbye to his Mother. She cried when Christ entrusted his Mother to her, begging her to treat his Mother as a sister.[44] She cried when Christ was scourged and mocked. She cried when Christ was struck in the face.[45] She cried when Christ encountered his Sorrowful Mother [S. Maria del Spasmo] and our Lady was almost dying from grief.[46] She cried at the foot of the cross. She cried when Christ was taken down from the cross. She cried at the grave. She cried in the garden. She cried when she saw him ascend into heaven. She cried in Bauma for thirty-two years while she was doing much penance. She now cries in heaven over the sins that are committed by so many miserable sinners, even though she is no longer sad in heaven. Non ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco.[47]

[The contemplation of Mary Magdalene]

5087 This is the sinful woman that the Church Militant is presenting to you today. She had been the most lustful and sensuous woman that you could find in this world but is now presented as a mirror and norm for all penitents. She spent thirty-two years in the grotto at Bauma, where I have been with a friend and where I have celebrated Mass. There is a small church there in which there is a wooden image of Magdalene with a sign that reads: Non desperetis vos, qui peccare soletis, exemploque meo, vos praeparate Deo.[48] By way of comfort to sinners Magdalene said: “Do not be discouraged because of the multitude or the gravity of your sins, because I was a great sinner and an enemy of God, and seven devils were driven out of me. Nevertheless, I received so much grace and so many gifts from Christ my Spouse who was nailed to the cross. As you did what I did when you committed sins, follow my example now by doing genuine penance for them.”

It is certainly a place where there is as much devotion as I have seen anywhere. By way of a miracle my companion received a marvellous gift concerning which he said: “Oh happy sins of Magdalene.” In this place there is an embankment nevertheless oozes water.

5808 Magdalene stayed here in such a state of penance that she did not care about any other food than crying and contemplating God. Seven times a day she was lifted up in spirit by angels. When it was time for Matins, she contemplated on how Christ was arrested and bound by the Jews, sold and tortured. This made her spirits wilt and angels came to lift her up and comfort her. When the hour of Prime arrived, she saw Christ being falsely accused in Pilate’s house, struck, bound and spat on. Then her strength failed her, and angels came and lifted her up consoling her with heavenly pleasures. At the hour of Terse Christ appeared dressed in purple, with a crown of thorns on his head, and with the cross on his shoulder. This wore her out with sorrow for her spouse. However, the angels returned and nourished her with divine love. At the hour of Sext she saw Christ on the cross between two thieves, exhausted and afflicted by torments and given vinegar and gall to drink. At this she felt as if she would faint but, at God’s command, angels came to support her during such sorrow. At None she thought about when Christ died, and his side was opened and out from it sprang the Church Militant. She felt that she would faint with joy, but the angels supported her. At the time for Vespers she considered how Christ was taken down from the cross. Finally, at the time for Compline she thought of how Christ was placed in the grave and she felt like fainting but the angels came to comfort her.[49]

[Final exhortation to the women]

5809 Ladies, this sermon is just for you so I hope that as you have imitated Magdalene in your pomp and vanity you will imitate her in your conversion. As yet, I can say that the word of God has been wasted if it has not produced the fruit of conversion. You are women who belong to the nobility and I can tell that it does not become you to be taken up with such nonsense, because from a noble heart like yours one expects generosity and not what village and lower class women do.[50] I am happy to see you going around neat and nicely dressed, as befits your station, but then I see that this has gone too far so that you look like a showpiece or something like that. For the love of God do not overdo the makeup[51] or paint yourself so as to make me feel embarrassed for you. Please be satisfied with the beauty that God has given you in forming you in his image and likeness. I promise you that you will look more beautiful because a woman who is respectable and modest possesses a gracefulness that everyone admires.[52]

“Oh, you might say, I do it to please my husband!” If you are doing it for your husbands, forget about it tonight and make me very happy. As for you, my good men, if your women are beautiful and well-breed, why are you not satisfied with them instead of going to prostitutes who might have satisfied you when your were in the army among soldiers and had no women. Each one of you is married and has companionship and so be satisfied with that.

5810 Ladies after you have cast off all pomp, three or four or six of you should gather together in a corner and keep company with Christ, being filled with love.[53] Take those who are poorest to the refuge and go through the countryside from house to house and look for them and then assist them like a poor old lady did in Florence where I was preaching last year. This old lady, who was only tiny, after God had miraculously married off two of her young children to nobles, began to carry out this work of charity. There was not a year that passed without her finding husbands for twenty or twenty-five young girls.[54] I have just received a letter that she wrote to me in which she says that she has just discovered a large house where there are many young women and that she will place those who want to serve God in a monastery and that she will find husbands for the others. When this little old lady comes across a young girl who is an orphan who has no father or mother and is in danger of falling, she places her in a monastery for fourteen days. She also went around the city and when she saw someone who was naked, she went to a noble woman and said, “could you give me one of your old dresses”. The women gave her a dress. She then went to the noble woman and said: “I have found a young girl who ought to get married so that she will not fall into vice. Can you help me?” She has done this repeatedly and obtained results.

You ought to do something like this as penance for your sins.[55] If you cannot imitate Magdalene’s purity and innocence, try to imitate her repentance since her conversion was so effective that she merited immediately to become Christ’s sister, the little child of the Madonna, the spouse of Christ and the servant of Christ to whom he revealed the wonderful secrets of his Passion and death so that though she was on earth she was living in heaven.

Therefore, I exhort you and beg of you to undertake genuine amendment through doing voluntary penance, being deeply sorry for your sins and making firm and holy resolutions so that from now on you will be happy here and later on live in paradise.

 

  1. Tuesday 22nd July 1539
  2. In the text te commenda instead of commanda
  3. Cf. Mt 11:11
  4. Jn 1:47
  5. Mt 8: 0
  6. Lk 18:14
  7. Mt 15:28
  8. Lk 7:47
  9. This shows that the sermon was being copied down while he was speaking.
  10. This is the classical way of contrasting the clerical state with lay state.
  11. Cf. Lk 7:39
  12. In the text chi instead of che
  13. Lk 7:43
  14. Cf. Lk 7:44-46
  15. Lk 7:47
  16. The text has 500
  17. Note how his exegesis takes stock of the time and the purpose of “gospel preaching”.
  18. Lk 7:39
  19. In the text nelle instead of dei
  20. Cf. Lk 7:41
  21. Cf. Lk 7:47-48
  22. There is a great debate about whether there were three or less penitent women each one of whom was called Mary. Modern exegesis considers that this incident belongs to Luke alone, and is a different episode from what took place at Bethany (Mt 25:6-13). The sinful woman here is not to be identified with Mary from Bethany, Martha’s sister, or with Mary Magdalene.
  23. Cf. S. Gregorio M., Ep. 25 ad Gregoriam (PL 77, 877s).
  24. Cant. 5:6
  25. Note the description of an “evangelical preacher that is similar to the thinking of the early Capuchins. Cf. Const. 1536 nn. 111-121
  26. Desideraressemo = non desiderermmo
  27. Cf. Mt 4:4; Lk 4:4; Dt 8:3; Wis 16:26
  28. Cf. Heb 4:12
  29. Mt 25:40
  30. Mt 25:35
  31. Divorono in the text = divorano
  32. He is saying: Let us take a short break and then we shall continue the explanation.
  33. It seems that Ochino was never in France while he was a Capuchin, at least not while he was General. Concerning the grotto called “La Beaume” near Marseille and the legend of Mary Magdalene the penitent see Philippus a Firenze, Itinera ministri generalis Bernardi ab Arezzo (1691-1698). II: Per Galliam, a cura di Mariano D’Alatri (MHOC XII), Romae 1968, 175ss.
  34. We are amazed indeed at all that goes into making a woman beautiful. Ochino may have picked up such detailed knowledge while studying medicine in Perugia.
  35. This is perhaps a reference to Dan 1:5, 15.
  36. Cf. Eccl. 2:10
  37. Cf. Lk 7:48
  38. At the break the preacher is recommending that a collection be taken up at the door to support the charitable works in the city.
  39. This is an interesting example.
  40. He may have seen this during the time he spent at court in Petrucci.
  41. Cf. Song 4:9.
  42. It is interesting to observe the motives for these tears of sorrow and of love that provide evidence of conversion. This topic, among others, was very dear to the early Capuchins as a way of saying goodbye to the world and it was full of ascetical and mystical significance.
  43. This is a splendid picture of Magdalene and it made an impression on many people including Victoria Colonna.
  44. These are two events in the life of Christ that are not contained in the Gospel. They come from Meditationes vitae Christi which was mistakenly attributed to Bonaventure or from other works like that.
  45. In the text mastellamascella.
  46. This is another apocryphal event.
  47. This saying was coined by Virgil, Eneide, 630. “When I come to know the mishap, I share in the unhappiness.”
  48. Note the testimony of an eyewitness. Cf. F. Benoit, Le culte de Marie Madelenine, in Annales du Midi 71 (1959) 278-282; V. Saxer, Maria Madallena, in Bibl. Sanctorum VIII, Romae 1967, 1078-1104 (bibliogr.)
  49. This suggests a way of meditating on Christ’s passion during the liturgical hours which at the time was widely practiced as a devotional exercise. Giovanni da Fano, Verucchino and many others speak about it. It was in general use among the early Capuchins.
  50. That is women of reprehensible behaviour.
  51. In the text De gli non tanti lisci.
  52. In the text the words onesta and modesta are us to create the effect of a rhyme.
  53. Ochino is suggesting establishing a confraternity for the poor as a charitable work.
  54. Ochino preached in Florence in 1538 after he had preached in Lucca. The identity of the kind “old lady” is not known.
  55. Note how Ochino suggests becoming involved in works of charity as penance for sin in preference to engaging in corporal ascetical practices.