PONTIFICIUM ATHENAEUM ANTONIANUM
Specializatio in Spiritualitate
JOHN PETRIKOVIC, OFM Cap.
Bernardine Ochino and Italian Humanism:
A STUDY IN CONTEXT
Dissertatio ad Licentiam
Moderator: Prof. Theo Jansen, OFM Cap.
Correlator: Prof. Costanzo Cargnoni, OFM Cap.
Prof. Maurice Carmody, OFM
Copyright 2018 John Petrikovic, OFM Cap.
Table of Contents
- Chapter I: The Climate of Italian Humanism
- CHAPTER II: Bernardine Ochino and Italian Humanists
- CHAPTER III: Echoes of Humanist Themes in Ochino’s Seven Dialogues and his Sermons
The history of spirituality easily becomes merely a record of success stories and uniformity if our attention is concentrated only on those who created the majority of the literature or institutional structures. However, we receive the false impression if we look at history simply from the angle of the winning side. The institutional version of events needs ‘goodies and badies’ and tends to oversimplify issues or, more crudely, to rewrite history.
Bernardine Ochino may well be considered one of the “badies” of the sixteenth century. General of the Capuchins in 1542 and one of Italy’s most celebrated preachers, his flight into Switzerland and Calvinism came as a shock to many of his most devoted admirers and a verification, for others, that his “heresy” had finally been exposed.
Often viewed in the religious context of the Franciscan reform, this study of Bernardine Ochino would like to change the horizon. Bernardine Ochino and the Italian humanists who supported him are an important part of the cultural and ecclesial heritage of the sixteenth century. Cuthbert of Brighton, whose scholarship has in many ways been the inspiration and the impetus for this study, concluded his own history of the Capuchins with this important insight:
Not without reason were the most convinced friends and upholders of the nascent [Capuchin] Reform found amongst the devout humanists of the time. It was in fact the imperious religious instinct of the Catholic humanist movement which molded and gave character to the Capuchin Reform from the days of Vittoria Colonna till the time of Yves de Paris. That is the outstanding feature in their history; and for that the history of the Capuchins deserves more attention than has hitherto been given it in the study of the Catholic Reformation.
The desire to research that “imperious religious instinct” and to understand its origins and impact is the goal of this study. And yet, we would have to broaden the aim to which Cuthbert has hinted. The distinctions between “Catholic Reformation,” “Protestant Reformation,” and “Counter-Reformation” remain somewhat controversial and yet also, in many ways, artificial. The fact is that the Capuchins, the Protestants, the Humanists and the various reform currents in Europe emerged from a common tradition, they “shared the same soil,” so to speak.
Thus, in attempting to understand the ways in which the thought of one such Capuchin, Bernardine Ochino, was affected by this “imperious instinct,” many of these seemingly individual worlds will collide and coincide.
The goal of this study is, admittedly, a modest one. It endeavors to lay out before the reader the world of sixteenth century humanism and the connections and influence of that movement in Ochino’s life and work. As a licentiate paper, it uses, for the most part, secondary sources, although Ochino’s own small corpus is essential for the study. No authors have written explicitly on the topic of Ochino and Humanism, so that, in many ways, the paper is a “patchwork” of reflections on the two. The person of Ochino himself unites them.
It is the hope that in discovering the social and religious “climate” in which he lived, we might come to a better appreciation of how Ochino was very much a “product of his times” as well as a contributor to the shaping of those times.
The first chapter will outline, in broad strokes, the nature and context of Italian humanism. After a discussion of the difficulties in defining the “limits” of the movement, the chapter hopes to convey the cultural and social climate out of which it arose as well as the way of thinking which was to have such a profound impact on what many call the “modern mind.” Humanism provided a hermeneutic, an optic, which changed the way humanity perceived itself and its history.
We will move from the topic of Humanism in isolation to a second chapter devoted to the ways in which Bernardine Ochino was to encounter its effects. We will look at the life of Ochino, pointing to the ways in which his life was very much a part of the Humanist currents of his day. We will discuss the difficult question of the convergence of “Humanism” and “Reform,” so important to the current literature and yet coinciding in the very people who were to form Ochino’s circle of relationships. We will look at some examples of those relationships and propose possible catalysts for his thought.
Finally, we will look at what survives of the printed “works” of Ochino during his Capuchin years. Ochino was a preacher and an evangelizer. We will see that this very fact will be one of the constitutive factors in the humanist influence. History has left us with few, but precious, testimonies to his thought. We hope to show that in his teaching and preaching, he had appropriated the themes and the heritage, not only of Franciscan spirituality, but also of the Italian religious humanists with whom he worked most intimately.
The assumption is that this work is very much a “study in progress:” before one can discern the ways in which Italian humanism and reform currents in Italy were at work in the lives of the early Capuchins, as Cuthbert has said, a grasp of the climate and ambiance of sixteenth century Italy is paramount. Spirituality and a study of ideas without history is a house built with no foundation. We wish to concentrate on the foundation to illuminate the strength of the building.
Before the conclusion, very few personal opinions are expressed; this is by intent. A study in its seminal stages hopes to reveal the author’s ability to survey the literature and to understand its content. Due to the limited nature of the licentiate thesis, the study does not purport to be the final word on the topic, but it does hope to be accurate and comprehensive.
To be faithful to the authors cited, I have retained the language of the sources instead of attempting personal translation. Thus, Calvin may well “speak Italian” in an Italian source; Erasmus may be rendered in English instead of Latin; Ochino may speak English at times. One hopes that the content of the message of these authors and the contribution of their work is appreciated.
In one of his sermons which we will cite, Bernardine Ochino evocatively uses the journey of Emmaus to display how the disciples came to recognize Jesus in the “breaking of the bread.” The “breaking” of this bread will be a vehicle for Ochino to call his hearers to a true contemplation of Christ’s great benefits in his passion and death:
Appresso sono alcuni che contemplano Cristo concetto, Cristo nato, Cristo in Egitto, ma cosí naturalmente e umanamente. Ma bisogna franger questo pane, e contemplare di dove è venuto e a che fine . . . Se lo masticherai bene, verrai a conoscere Cristo e Dio nella frazione; il che stando nella scorza non ti può accendere, non ti può infiammare ad amarlo e conoscere tanti innumerabili tesori all’umana natura concessi. E però spezza, rompi, frangi e rumina, accioché Cristo ti faccia manifesto a te, come fece a questi due discepoli.
To borrow Ochino’s metaphor, the work we are about to undertake is in reality a “rumination,” a conscious attempt to lay out and explore a culture, a people and the ideas that drove them. In this “chewing” and “breaking” of the various elements contained herein, it is our hope that new insights can be gained and new paths for exploration revealed.
John Petrikovic, OFM Cap.
January 22, 1998
As Giovanni Reale has indicated, “Humanism” refers to the “general tendency” which, though it finds its roots in medieval thought and culture, saw itself as marking a new “beginning” in human history. Though it had its beginnings prior to Francesco Petrarch, the Italian poet and Latin linguist is often credited with offering the impetus for the movement and his genius is held responsible for its spread and influence throughout Europe.
The movement itself is so closely identified with the dawn of the “Renaissance” spirit that it is often undifferentiated from the Renaissance. Hence, the term “Renaissance Humanism” is applied to distinguish the dawn of the movement from its later development in the Enlightenment through to the contemporary era. We will specifically deal here with “Humanism” in its incarnation within the late Middle Ages as a precursor and contributor to 16th century religious thought and as its cultural antecedent.
Taken as a whole, Humanism is the “study and imitation of classical antiquity which was characteristic of the [Renaissance] and found its expression in scholarship and education and in many other areas, including the arts and sciences.”
The term “Humanism” seems to have first been used by Coluccio Salutati, a 15th century chancellor from Florence, who, along with Boccaccio, saw themselves as devoted to the studia humanitatis, as opposed to the studia divinitatis. As such, it has become associated with a specific kind of educational program which takes its inspiration from Cicero’s “On the Orator.” A second century Latin grammarian, Aulus Gellius, identified this “art” with the Greek paideia, offered by the itinerant Sophist tutors in the fifth century B.C., as a “general and liberal education used in preparing a free man for manhood and citizenship.”
This educational program stressed the background of education more than its content. Petrarch saw this broad “curriculum” as a way “di dare all’uomo la vera fama, consacrata dalla virtù, per la quale è necessario che il giovane ‘si sforzi’ nello studio, senza chiudersi nel chiostro e rimanendo tra gli uomini.” The program, then, included “practical arts” geared to one’s relationships within society and among his fellow citizens. These would include the studies of grammar, rhetoric, poetry, history, and moral philosophy.
As Giovanni Bertin has made clear:
[L’insegnamento medievale] non tendeva ad alimentare lo spirito nel gusto e nell’attivita della ricerca, ma a mantenere la capacità recettiva in un apprendimento verbale e mnemonico, dominato dall’autorità del maestro: lo scolaro si limitava ad accogliere passivamente la materia d’insegnamento, ad accogliere con rispetto, imparare a memoria ed elaborare logicamente la materia, secondo un processo contrario alle esigenze di una libera vita intelletuale.
A common metaphor of the early humanists was that of “light and darkness.” The humanists saw themselves as marking a new era, an era which would recover the richness of the past after a period which had strayed from the wisdom of the ancients. As Carlo Angeleri writes:
[Quest metafora] sarà ripresa anche nei secoli posteriori per distinguere le due epoche che già si sentono in contrasto, cioè la metafora del buio e della luce; l’età passata è sentita genericamente, come un periodo di grigiore e di tenebre, nella cultura e nell’arte, quella attuale assume invece tutti i segni della chiarità e dello splendore.
The Renaissance humanists were self-conscious regarding their chosen return to the past, and a break with this “medieval education” though, as one author has noted, its break with its more recent past was “seldom clean.” Petrarch was openly critical of the cultural and educational situation of the Middle Ages, and exalted a “rinascita spirituale in cui religiosità cristiana e cultura classica si fondono armoniosamente.” Yet, this critique and attempts at harmonization were already present within the dialectic schools themselves. Much study has been done this century to indicate the affinity and continuity of Renaissance humanists with the medieval catholic spiritual tradition.
The birth of the humanist movement was associated, in large part, to the question of language. Latin had begun to give way, between the 6th and 9th centuries, to the development of the “vulgar” languages within the emerging European cultures. This had created a situation in which Latin itself began to be a “foreign language,” used in education and in official documents. The research inspired by scholasticism itself had flamed a desire for texts from antiquity in their dialect search for truth. The medieval discovery of texts from the ancients via the Arab world of Averroes and Avicenna played no small role in the demand for more authentic textual research.
The result of the humanist search of past manuscripts and its love of grammar incited searches for ancient texts and, as Kristeller has pointed out, created a “neo-Latin language and literature that were much closer to those of the ancient Romans than anything written in Latin after the end of antiquity.” Linguistic style and refined discourse took the place of a scholastic “marshaling of the sources” so that language, grammar and rhetoric, precisely as the science of persuasion, took precedence.
The rhetorical practice of humanists was much more extensive than their theoretical literature.. . . The speeches composed by them and often delivered by others were . . . usually epideictic and linked to the social and institutional practice of their time: funeral and wedding speeches, speeches by ambassadors in the name of their government, . . . speeches given at the graduation of students, at the opening of lay or religious gatherings or of a disputation, or in praise of saints or other illustrious people, and many more. In fifteenth-century Italy the sermons preached on holidays or on special occasions were often delivered by priests or friars who had received a humanist education, and these sermons were influenced in their form and content, if not in their religious doctrine, by the secular oratory of the humanists.
Petrarch, enthusiastic for the literature of the past, found within the Latin texts of Ancient Rome, a way out of what he saw as the “corruzione” and the “empietà” of his time. Against both the “naturalism” of Averroes and the predominance of the dialectical methods which sought sources only for verification and support of particular positions, Petrarch worked toward the rediscovery of “eloquence” and the humanae litterae of Cicero:
Io infatti mi domando a che giovi il conoscere la natura delle belve e degli uccelli e dei pesci e dei serpenti [che l’Averroista sa] ed ignorare o non curar di sapere la natura dell’uomo, perché siam nati, donde veniamo, dove andiamo.
Socially, the cultural life of the medieval Italian cities were in the hands of the “grandi,” a class who were no doubt becoming urbanized while remaining committed to military and feudal notions of power. The emerging merchant class of the twelfth and thirteenth century, meanwhile, had become a dominant group of “self-made men,” whose power and prestige lay in their fortune rather than their heritage and were, little by little, driving the grandi from their cities.
By the fifteenth century, these businessmen had become inheritors of fortune rather than inheritors of titles and had lost the enterprising initiative of their predecessors. They “became men of leisure to a degree undreamt of by their hard-driving, self-denying ancestors.” It appears that Humanism made its most influential impact within these centers of the “new wealth.”
The ruling classes really needed an education that would make them broadly informed and intelligent amateurs, not one that made them specialists. The main practical applications that they wanted from their education were the ability to cope effectively with the realities of human existence and ability to deal with and even to manipulate other human beings. For such a goal, the strongly political and ethical bent of Roman literature, and its concentration on oratorical and rhetorical training as the best practical aid to political success, was far better adapted than was the excessively speculative and intellectual scholastic education.
In a world which was turbulent and unpredictable, humanists sought out past answers to inform the culture of their day. Their educational reforms to introduce the wisdom of antiquity into the schools were attempts at “character building.” Under the influence of the likes of Petrarch, Boccaccio and Valla, “education was regarded not as a professional training in some one special field, but as a wide-ranging development of the inherent capabilities of man.”
This program was to appeal in a special way to the aristocracy and the well born of educated families particularly in places like Florence, Venice and Naples. The revival of Italian literature, the inspiration for and support of the revival in art, and the incipient cries for a moral reform of the Church were to grow side by side as Italy sought to bring about its “renaissance.”
What makes Petrarch and subsequent humanists unique was their self-conscious desire to return to the sources of the past for their current inspirations, highlighting their practical and moral goals: the betterment of the human person and society.
This pre-cartesian “turn to the subject,” or human person, is, for example, in the work of Leonardo Bruni (d. 1444). Within the framework of re-evaluating the work of Aristotle in his Nicomacaen Ethics, Bruni was convinced that what is more important and of more worth in the study of humanity “non è l’oggetto contemplato, ma l’uomo che pensa, e, in quanto pensa, agisce.” This anthropocentrism and the development of the ideals of “happiness” and the “good life” in the ancient senses, were used by the humanists in their desire to regenerate society and, at least in its initial periods, to lead to a stronger Italy as mirrored in the glory of ancient Rome.
The difficulties in confining the appellation “Humanism” have garnered much attention in the literature of the past fifty years. Attempts to do so are often divided on the various currents which combine to contribute to the origins of Humanism, the goals of the humanist “project” and the various ways in which this “project” were realized.
There are four “conclusions” which attempt to offer an overarching structure to the term “Humanism,” seeking to identify its focus and sphere of influence. Here, we will briefly indicate the major trends.
The first builds on the school of Jacob Burkhardt. Humanism, in his perspective, was the birth of the modern consciousness which advocated “individualism, secularism, and moral autonomy against medieval Christian culture.” As such, this school focuses on the influence which Humanism exerted in shaping “modern thought” and the creation of the “modern era” over and against the medieval Christian culture.
The second thesis takes a contrary position to the Burkhardt school. It is supported by the followers of the Italian historian Guiseppe Tofannin. In this proposal, Humanism is precisely the epitome of medieval Christian culture, an outgrowth of the intellectual flowering of the Middle Ages. Humanists were the champions of Christian neo-platonism and Augustinianism over and against the heterdoxy and the pagan strains in Averroism and Aristotelianism. Emerging from the “medieval synthesis” in philosophy and theology, this viewpoint places the humanist project as a return to “orthodox” scholarship (as in the Franciscan school) which stood to defend against the “naturalism” of philosophies which would indicate that knowledge and truth can be ascertained without the workings of faith and grace. As such, it is viewed as a “conservative” movement within its theological and philosophical starting points:
Difensori della fede, gli Umanisti lottarono contro il pensiero non classico dell’avverroismo e contro l’individualismo eretico del volgare. In sostanza, poichè l’Umanesimo . . . fu divina retorica dei dotti cristiani contro la dialettica, esso fu contrario ad ogni mistica e ad ogni speculazione: fu quindi una Controriforma avant la lettre, per la sua reazione a ogni indirizzo men che ortodosso, e sopratutto al razionalismo del ‘200.
The work of Hans Baron has highlighted the political and cultural aspects of Renaissance Humanism, especially among its Florentine expression. In this third theory, humanists are primarily to be seen as proponents of republican liberty and civic responsibility urging the urban elite and those in noble families to study ancient history and literature for its political and moral wisdom. “Lo spirito si sviluppò,” wrote Baron, “ed insieme con lui la rinascita dell’Etica statale romana di Cicerone.”
Finally, Paul Oskar Kristeller expresses a somewhat more “restrained” view which has gained increasing credence in the academic world, particularly in the United States. In this final school, Humanism finds its roots in the revival of language and rhetoric. It looked to past ages for a grounding of truth and value in and through the pursuit of eloquence. As such, it is an educational and cultural program dedicated to rhetoric, scholarship and “good language” which would indicate only a secondary interest in metaphysics and moral philosophy, either Christian or pagan. The implications of this broadens the search for “humanists” to virtually all spheres of the late medieval society and would subsequently broaden the influence which they exerted.
As McGrath has noted, the import of Kristeller’s definition allows us to
. . . regard Humanism as a coherent movement, with certain minimal characteristics, while simultaneously recognizing that its complex network of intellectual interests defies simplistic reduction in terms of an underlying philosophical unity.
It seems clear that great early humanists like Petrarch, Bruni, Salutati or Valla and later humanists like Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples and Erasmus tend to defy attempts to fit them neatly into one category. Yet, their sharing of a common heritage, a love for language and clear discourse, the influence of rhetoric, a concern with ethical virtue and a pre-occupation with the human person’s place in the larger society provide a useful “handle” to describe their sphere of activity.
As Kristeller has rightly observed, “Taken as a broad group, the humanists were neither Christian nor anti-Christian. As individuals, most of them were Christians, and some of them were sufficiently interested in religious and theological subjects to write about them.”
Many humanists were Aristotelians as well as neo-Platonists, so that it is also difficult to categorize their philosophical leanings taken as a whole. Thus,
. . . individual [humanist] scholars and thinkers made their individual religious and theological choices that were not predetermined by their general scholarly or philosophical concerns. [They] carried on [their] work in cooperation and mutual exchange of ideas, beyond the seemingly insurmountable barriers of religious diversity and conflict.
What unites all of these definitions and these various personages? No doubt, there was a “movement” or, perhaps better, a “tendency” which is found in men and women of various scholarly and artistic interests who helped to form and who were influenced by an “atmosphere” or “climate” of thought. The humanists, particularly in Italy, were educators, chancellors, secretaries and well-born princes and patricians. They were also copyists and calligraphers and were in no small way responsible for the dissemination of printed material through the eventual medium of the press by the late fifteenth century. Their influence in education and in political and ecclesial leadership throughout Italy was indisputable by the dawn of the sixteenth century.
In order to discern the climate of humanist thought, we might do well to consider borrowing a term used by a recent author to indicate the “contingency and complexity of the historical connection between impetus and movement.” It is difficult to determine the “cause” of Italian Humanism, but it is certainly clear that the social-cultural, political, religious and intellectual strands of society provided “gathering tributaries” which flowed into a common “stream” which we call “humanist thought.” It is to these “streams” which we now turn our attention.
The growth of humanist sentiment is often related to the crises which erupted in the aftermath of the so-called “medieval synthesis” of the 13th century. In the view of many recent historians, there appears an almost existential crisis of “security” which had left Europe searching for new grounds of faith and a new spur to moral uprightness.
The Black death certainly contributed to this confusion. At some estimates, nearly a third of the population had been lost to this plague. The Avignon papacy and the subsequent “Great Western Schism” produced an authority crisis unparalleled in ecclesiastical history, and the growth and popularity of Nominalist philosophy and Ockham’s epistemological “razor” had laid the groundwork for scholastic doubt in traditionally accepted deductive reasoning.
The so-called “death of the medieval synthesis” as the “harvest of Nominalism” is an important starting point for any discussion of religious thought in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The scholasticism which had flourished within the ambiance of a 13th century intellectual optimism found itself challenged by the new currents of philosophical and theological thought of the latter part of the century. William of Ockham (d. 1349) had applied his proverbial “razor” to the confidence within philosophical realism and had raised epistemological questions which would form the basis for “modern” thought. As such, the deductive reasoning of scholasticism, along with its concomitant tendency to discern and delineate essential forms and substances within created reality, were to be taken to task through an epistemology which focused more on the act of knowing and on the human subject as “knower.” Thus the human person, active within the epistemological enterprise, creates categories of “form” and “substance” so as to unite disparate “individual” entities for logical purposes. To infer that a “substance” or “essence” exists outside the individual existent, however, would be questionable and dubious in this school of thought.
This “razor” has been viewed as a somewhat “logical conclusion” to a more conservative theological outlook which would want to maintain the freedom of God within the human sphere. As typified but not limited to Ockham and the Franciscan school, the emphasis on the “will of God” and on “love” as being God’s essential attribute, this school of thought desired to maintain the freedom of God over and against any logical determinism. Nominalism and the “voluntarist” school of Duns Scotus form a common counterpoint to philosophical realism.
Scotus’ famous distinction between the potentia ordinata and the potentia absoluta was an attempt to differentiate between God’s chosen manner of action within his covenant and among his people versus his “possible” manner of action which is beyond human categories.
“Contingency” is perhaps the best word to use describe this ambiance of mind. As opposed to “necessary” connections of God and the world, a notion of radical contingency maintained God’s freedom of action vis a vis the world he has created as it also undermined human efforts to contain him or, at least, to comprehend him fully through human dialectical methods.
It may be important to note here that this movement was in no way a rejection of the medieval Church or of its teaching. Thomism was yet to be “canonized” at the Council of Trent, and the Franciscan and Augustinian strains of thought were flourishing throughout the period. The “conservative” trend toward voluntarism and Nominalism was an attempt to ground knowledge, not on human reason in its search for truth, but rather on faith and its graced pre-conditions for true knowledge. It is, thus not knowledge for its own sake which is the human goal, but rather a knowledge, instilled by the grace of God, which leads to the love of God which becomes the starting point and focus of the nominalist agenda.
To look for the demarcation line between potentia absoluta and potentia ordinata becomes a second habit for all those who reject the axioms of the Thomistic metaphysical ontology. The insistence on the potentia ordinata as the basis of theology proper by no means implies a sola scriptura principle; rather, it points to the sources of revelation, as testified to in Scripture, the Fathers and the doctrinal decisions of the Church.
Though the humanists, as noted above, were in and of themselves neither nominalists nor voluntarists, they shared with them a common distrust of the Scholastic confidence and a desire to ground human knowledge of God while maintaining his absolute freedom. As Petrarch wrote:
This prattling of dialecticians will never come to an end; it throws up summaries and definitions like bubbles, matter indeed for endless controversies; but for the most part they know nothing of the real truth of the things they talk about.
Between heaven and earth, certainly, there is a great distance, I admit, but it is finite; between God and man the distance is infinite. Man is certainly earth, whence he received his name, from earth born, on earth living, into earth returning. God, moreover, is not heaven but the creator of heaven, as much higher than heaven as heaven than earth.
This same “distancing” can be read in Lorenzo Valla’s work Sul libero arbitrio:
Fuggiamo dunque la cupidigia di conoscere le cose superne, e accostiamoci piuttosto alle umili. Niente importa al cristiano più di umiltà: in questo sentiamo di più la magnificenza di Dio, onde è scritto: “Dio resiste ai superbi, ma fa grazia agli umili.”
A theological consequence of nominalism and voluntarism was the search for a new ground for salvation and redemption (linked inexorably to their desire for moral reform). In nominalism, writes John Dillenberger, “God’s declared intent to save sinners was not indicative of God’s nature but of God’s resolve.” This was to create a tenuous relationship with God which demanded trust in God’s essential love without any certainty of salvation without his free decision. Petrarch himself was to reflect this angst as he wrote:
God indeed is the best; but I am the worst; what proportion is there in such great contrariety? . . . I confess the mercy of God is infinite, but I profess that I am not fit for it, and as much as it is greater, so much narrower is my mind filled with vices. . . . He is potent to save: I am unable to be saved . . . He must be humbly beseeched that he should liberate us from the body of this death, whence the merit of man does not liberate but the grace of God alone [unde meritum hominis non liberat, sed gratia Dei solius], to whom nothing, I do not say is impossible, but not even difficult.
Rather than conforming to a given and determined structural hierarchy, the “nominalist” mind laid the basis for a faith built on “covenant:” just as God had freed his people through a free exercise of his determined will, so too humanity reflected the acceptance and appropriation of that “covenant” in faith, personally and individually. Without anticipating later reformation themes, it would be safe to say that the issues of free will and grace were prepared within the nominalist/voluntarist strands of the schools and the humanists who had taken the distinctions to heart.
The subjective and individualistic attitude that characterises and pervades humanist discourse from Petrarch to Montaigne and that to some extent explains the humanist preference for the letter, the dialogue and the essay also tends to penetrate much philosophical and scientific literature during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
These styles of writing did away with the dialectic search for truth in se and accented personal experience and its verification in ancient wisdom: moral behavior was to take precedence over debates on what is true. The impact of this view would yield two results which are essential in the understanding of the humanist “mind.”
The first serious result was to produce an anthropology which viewed the human person as unique and responsible and the second, which follows, was a morality which took human action seriously so that the human will, exercised in human action, would be the goal of all human knowledge. Human passions had come to be seen as a positive value, as the source of action. Thus, ethics and the limits of personal freedom would provide a natural attraction to the humanist program and would become the starting point in their search for a human renewal and reform. An increased attention to ethical behavior which prescinds from the theory behind ideas becomes its focal point.
Fundamental to the cultural movements of the Renaissance was a gradual accumulation of social and political changes: an economy increasingly dependent on commerce rather than on agriculture, a political structure composed of assertive particular powers, and a society dominated by educated laymen who were increasingly restive under clerical direction and increasingly aggressive in pressing their own claims to dignity and self determination.
As William Bouwsma indicates above, the evolution of modern culture saw its seeds sown in the Middle Ages. An urbanized society combined with the yielding fortunes of economic power from the feudal system to the emerging mercantile wealth supplied the atmosphere for new modes of thought within the new weltanschauung.
Various recent authors would highlight the connection between the individualizing tendencies of the late Middle Ages and the growing dissent against the Church’s temporal power. While they are distinct movements, the Devotio Moderna of the fourteenth century, the mysticism of Gerson, Echkart, Tauler and others, and humanist institutional critique formed a triple phalanx to individuate the human person from the institutional Church.
Dom François Vandenbroucke has noted this connection when he writes that the “subjective and individualistic piety proved fertile soil” for the ultimate reformation principle of justification by faith alone:
The mediation of the word made flesh; the Incarnation, prolonged into the present by the Church; the hierarchy of the Church and its sacrament — all these great realities of Christianity could remain outside the field of vision of a devout Christian formed by the new piety.
With the need for sacramental mediation lessened, the road to a more immediate and immanent experience of God’s mercy was paved. Unfortunately, the state of the Church and the continued quarrels with secular powers was not a help to an individual who might be desirous of being swayed from a more individualistic approach.
The political crises of the Middle Ages are well known. The quarrels of popes and emperors in the twelfth and thirteenth century and the ascendancy of French power within the fourteenth century with the subsequent movement of the papacy to Avignon had created a crisis of authority and control in the West. Italy seems to have had little a lessened importance within this “dark” period of the Church’s history compared with the nascent nationalism of its European counterparts, and the ensuing doubts regarding authority would advance attempts to ground temporal and religious power in something more secure than the hierarchical “givens” of past ages.
Proceeding from an incipient “democratic” sentiment, Conciliarism attempted to solve the problems in papal division through the notion that the “body politic” or, in this case, the “council” was more powerful than the “hierarch” or monarch. Based on a look to the church’s past, it was proposed that the Council was more powerful than any individual pope and that the Council was able to exercise its jurisdiction when the papacy failed to do so.
There remains little doubt that, within the background of Conciliarism, a “new” anthropology, a new vision of the human person, was emerging. John Dillenberger has attempted to summarize the “anthropology” of the Renaissance humanist. “Humans felt unique,” he writes. Thus, the author would imply that the relations with institutions were no longer absolute and determined. As later Enlightenment figures will develop, the “starting point” for a notion of “society” was no longer the collective whole into which one enters, but rather the human person who chooses to affiliate and, in the process, becomes active in society’s formation:
As self-conscious individuals, they formed and belonged to communities. Humanity and community were not realities defining individuals. Rather, the relations among individuals gave meaning and form to such words as humanity and community.
Despite the possible anachronism in such a highly developed notion of human autonomy, Conciliarism was, at the same time, an outgrowth of the movement away from hierarchical conceptions of authority, already pre-envisaged in the Cistercian and Franciscan visions of authority and in political charters of the nobles vis a vis the authority of the King. In the history of religious reform, one can see a growing need for the correction of authority through a corresponding system of “checks and balances.” Cluny’s attempts at federation as well as the Cistercian assurance that there be no unaccountable authority was an important part of this process. The decision in 1530 that Francis, through his Testament, was unable to “bind equals” in the famous interpretation of Quo Elongati was a successful flowering of a developed legal position. These new “modern” Orders would be among those to apply the notions of their own “capitular” leadership to the general powers of the “council’s” authority over the Pope.
The conciliarist attempt to solve the Great Western Schism did result in the election of Martin V as the sole successor to Peter in 1417 as it forced the resignations of the other claimants (and in which it was, generally, successful). Martin V followed with a policy which would secure his own power as well as clarify the Church’s teachings on papal authority and doom Conciliarism as a heretical expression of power.
At the same time, the roots of the crisis and the search for a basis in authority and action would not be settled. Humanism, in its cultural expressions, attempted to find more “solid ground” for authority within the “civiltas” of the ancients and a desire for personal appropriation of virtue and valor in contradistinction to the seemingly frivolous disputes of power which characterized the age.
The interest in classical Latin and Greek and the attempts of the humanists to discover more accurate texts of the ancients was by no means an accidental occurrence. Lorenzo Valla, whose own revelation on the forging of Constantine’s so-called Donation was to make most history books, was himself at the center of the crisis to ground authority in something less tenuous than human invention.
Valla’s self-expressed intention in the publication of his Discorso sulla falsa e menzognera donazione di Costantino was “che il Papa sia soltanto vicario di Cristo e non anche di Cesare.” He viewed the roots of the papacy’s “temporal power” as the roots of its corruption. Yet, Valla’s use of textual criticism alerted people to the “temporal and geographical variations” of history and “sowed the seeds” of a more objective look at the “present.” As William Bouwsma has written, “Implicit in [Valla’s] insight was a sense of the distance between past and present and the individuality of historical movements — what we would call historical perspective.”
If “reform” required a look to the past, the reason adduced would be that the early Church had maintained its truly “spiritual” character. The distinction between the “spiritual” and “temporal” realms which were essentially reduced to the primacy of the “spiritual” power under Innocent III was continually assaulted for being the root of the Church’s loss of its spiritual innocence. The humanist impetus to accent the “spiritual” nature of the human person and the “spiritual” goals of the Christian life would increasingly affect the attitudes toward the “worldly” and “temporal” appearance of ecclesiastical structures.
Humanists were particularly adept at the use of satire to express their own frustration with institutional corruption. As well known as England’s Canterbury Tales of Chaucer was Dante’s Divina Comedia which, rising from the dawn of Italian Humanism (and itself contributing to the growing sense of Italian pride through the use of the Tuscan vernacular), felt free to attack abuses which worked their way into the popular mind and helped to raise the position of the ordinary, lay citizen to be “critic” of their given structures of authority.
While Erasmus’ In Praise of Folly is legendary, other humanists also used parody and wit to produce an image of a Church which was heavily focused on worldly gain and, by all appearances, unfaithful to its spiritual goals. In his In Praise of Folly, e.g., Erasmus’ dry wit is observed on this attack of papal behavior:
In the present system what [spiritual] work need be done is handed over to Peter or Paul to do at their leisure, while pomp and pleasure are personally taken care of by the Popes . . . . Miracles are considerd old-fashioned; to educate people is irritating; to pray is a waste of time; to interpret Sacred Scripture is a formality; to weep is womanish; to live in poverty ignominious; to be beaten in war is dishonorable and not worthy of one who insists that kings, no matter how great, bend and kiss his sacred foot; and to die is unpleasant, death on a cross — dishonor.
In common among these cynical views of ecclesiastical abuses was a certain frustration with the ecclesial paralysis of the time.
Educated men were mumbling all these things about the clergy, about monks and popes, corruption and graft, popular superstition and idolatrous practices. Erasmus expressed, and brilliantly, what they were barely articulating; and educated Europe laughed.
Through the burgeoning use of the printing press, humanists and religious reformers alike entered the popular mind with works full of irony, invective and mockery. Satire, thus, formed another way in which the human person could “transcend” the difficulties of structural corruption and placed him in a position to own his own destiny.
Attempting to link the humanist of education and philology with the humanist circles of reformers has always been met with a challenge: all humanists were not reformers and not all reformers were humanists. Thus said, the twentieth century literature on the link between renaissance and reform is vast.
There is a decisive interplay of Humanism with reform currents in northern Europe. Luther was educated in the via moderna by the likes of Staupitz and Reuchlin, the famous humanist who fought for the retention of Hebrew linguistic studies when his opponent, Pfefferkorn (a converted Jew), had fought for the removal of texts antithetical to Christianity. Calvin was a French humanist, and it is difficult to determine when Zwingli crossed the line from humanist to reform (if, in fact, he did). Martin Bucer was influential in the development of a Lutheran and reform theology “unquestionably” humanist in origin, and finally, Philip Melancthon, perhaps the most articulate reformation theologian (and whose name itself is indicative of his love for the Greek past), was instrumental in wedding Reformation theology with an educational program founded on the linguistic studies and a study of the humanities.
In Italy, the lines between Humanism and reform are even more obscure. By the sixteenth century, humanist studies had pervaded the education of the culturally elite and the humanist appreciation for the Latin language and vernacular prose and poetry were firmly in place as the sine qua non of a classical education. Centers like Florence, Venice, Naples, and to a lesser extent, Rome saw the gathering of many educated men and women who shared both a common thirst for good literature and a common disgust for the religious conditions of the time. Interestingly enough, though himself indebted to previous Italian humanists, Erasmus was to have a corresponding influence in the development of a reform spirit in Italy.
Erasmus of Rotterdam was heavily influenced in his “life’s work” by the humanist school of John of Colet and his disciples, of whom Sir Thomas More and Erasmus were the most prolific. Colet (c. 1466-1519) had visited the Italy of the Renaissance and was persuaded in the new found art interpreting Scripture “in its historical setting” and “attributing to any particular passage only the meaning justified by the original context of that passage.”
Erasmus was to study theology in Paris and eventually to master Greek, but it was his personal appreciation of Valla’s Annotations on the New Testament which allowed him to “apply humanist linguistic and textual critiques to the critical evaluation of the sources of Christianity.”
Erasmus’ own journeys, like those of Colet, brought him in touch with the various centers of humanist study, and an important tool in the uniting of the humanists lay precisely in their mastering of the Latin language. This “sharing of eloquence” became a unitive force which allowed the humanists to communicate and to become catalysts for one another through an open exchange of letters and essays.
Erasmus’ focal point in his reform thought was the “philosophy of Christ.” By this, Erasmus intended the wisdom or, better, “folly” which inspired the words of St. Paul. True Christianity was a religion of the heart. In a letter of 1518, he expressed his own desire that “everyone emerge a people who would restore the philosophy of Christ not in ceremonies alone and in syllogistic propositions but in the heart itself and in the whole life.”
Much like his Italian humanist predecessors, the Dutch humanist found all other debate which did not return to the wisdom of Christ in the gospels to be in vain.
Recognizing the turmoil within their own world, the humanist’s saw another time and another place as more “enlightened” than their own. The ecclesial realm was no exception. Erasmus was to praise the exegesis of the Father’s of the Church as being superior to the dialecticians because it recognized in metaphor and allegory, the more “spiritual meaning” of the Scripture text. As such, in a religious language rife with images, it was able to evoke a religious response and a conversion of heart which the scholastics could not produce.
I find that in comparison with the Fathers of the Church our present-day theologians are a pathetic group. Most of them lack the elegance, the charm of language, and the style of the Fathers. Content with Aristotle, they treat the mysteries of revelation in the tangled fashion of the logician. Excluding Platonists from their commentaries, they strangle the beauty of revelation. Yet no less an authority than St. Augustine prefers to express himself in the flowing style that so enhanced the lovely writings of this Platonist school.
In this sense, Erasmus was a true inheritor of the humanist love for “rhetoric.” For him, “the science to be cojoined with piety is par excellence the science of eloquence, or persuasion.” The goal behind his enterprise was to live in the world of the “spirit” that opposes the “flesh,” as St. Paul wrote, and “[St. Paul] actually goes beyond what I am saying[:] . . . that the flesh is actually fatal if it does not lead to the spirit.” His own aversion to the abuses within the Church may well be seen in their corresponding inability to bear fruit in the lived reality of moral perfection.
Examine yourselves and see if attendance at divine services renders you dead to the world. If you are filled with ambition and envy, even though you offer the sacrifice yourself, you are far from the real significance of the Mass. Christ was slain for you. Sacrifice yourself, then, to him who sacrificed himself to the Father. If you believe in what takes place at the altar but fail to enter into the spiritual meaning of it, God will despise your flabby display of religion.
Erasmus is perhaps best known in his role as the “pacifist” of the Reformation. While his fame grew throughout the early part of the sixteenth century, pope and reformers alike encouraged him to “take a stand” on the direction of Church reform and the growing discord as Protestant thinking matured from Luther’s initial attacks on the Roman Church. Erasmus did eventually offer various essays and letters assailing Luther and the reformers. He wrote, for example, to the humanist reformer Martin Bucer in 1527:
Certain rascals say that my writings are to blame for the fact that the scholastic theologians and monks are in several places becoming less esteemed than they would like, that ceremonies are neglected, and that the supremacy of the Roman pontiff is disregarded; when it is quite clear from what source this evil has sprung . . . . [The leaders of the reform movements] should not have heedlessly wrecked anything without having something better ready to put in its place.
At the same time, Erasmus was, for the most part, cautious not to judge Luther and his intentionsand, in a letter to then Pope Leo X in 1520, Erasmus had written of Luther’s being “well qualified to expound Scriptures in the manner of the Fathers,” and thus that he had “favoured his good, but not his bad qualities, or rather I have favoured Christ’s glory in him.”
But Erasmus was a consummate irenicist who would, in some contexts, appear to sacrifice his desire for “truth” in his search for “peace.” As Stephen Ozment has indicated:
Erasmus challenged Luther on his concept of free will because it was detrimental to morality even if it were true. Consequences of ideas are seen to be more important than the ideas themselves. The effects must be considered when one assesses its truthfulness.
In Erasmus’ own words:
There are, indeed, errors which it is better to ignore than to eliminate. Paul has differentiated between the permissible and the expedient [1 Cor 2,1-6]. The truth may be spoken but it does not serve everyone at all times under all circumstances . . . It is not only unsuitable, but truly pernicious to carry on such disputations when everybody can listen.
Unfortunately, this often led to a charge of “relativism” leveled against Erasmus by his contemporaries. Even Luther was to take him to task for his “secular” introduction of rhetorical devices to stir the imagination, and he addresses Erasmus’ “peacemaking” in his response to the Free Will tract:
In a word, these declarations of yours amount to this — that, with you, it matters not what is believed by any one, any where, if the peace of the world be but undisturbed; . . . and to look upon the Christian doctrines as nothing better than the opinions of philosophers and men; and that it is the greatest folly to quarrel about, contend for, and assert them, as nothing can arise therefrom but contention, and the disturbance of the public peace. . . . [But] the Holy Spirit is not a Sceptic, nor are what He has written on our hearts doubts or opinions, but assertions more certain, more firm, than life itself and all human experience.
Erasmus was not, however, interested in debates and diatribes. While Philip McNair’s view would want to see Erasmus and other humanists as, in the end, compromising to the “Establishment,” his insights regarding the overall goal of the Erasmian project appear valid: it “preached no new doctrine, for it did not preach at all, but was more at home in the study than in the pulpit.” Erasmus considered the “philosophy of Christ” to be a simple return to the sources of the Christian life, and it was his conviction to the end that reform could be hoped for if this were accomplished. In this is what some authors consider to be his naiveté while for others his lasting heritage.
He was, perhaps, a “rhetorician,” before all else and he was perhaps at his most forceful in trying to persuade his generation that a return to the Biblical and patristic sources could be the precise answer to institutional decadence and scholastic gridlock. The Catholic Church was to eventually put many of his writings on the list of forbidden books while warning of caution in reading others, and Luther and many reformers would condemn his teachings as being a “mist of glue and mud,” “of garbage and dung.”
But Erasmus’ work was to experience a profound success within the reform currents in Italy through many of his devoted readers. One of them was Juan de Valdés, perhaps the most influential spiritual animator of the Italian reform.
To accuse, to excuse, to console, to irritate, to placate souls, to move to tears and to remove them, to light fires of anger and to extinguish them, to color facts, to avert infamy, to transfer blame, to arouse suspicions — these are the proper works of orators.
Whether Petrarch’s words were heard or read by most of the religious humanists certainly remains doubtful. However, Petrarch’s own desire to incite and to inspire Italy with a motivation to an ethical reform of life was communicated through his works, via Erasmus and others, to the Italy of the sixteenth century. Those words found an echo in the hearts of preachers, teachers, and noble men and women of Italy. We now turn our gaze from the general ambiance of Humanism to the people who sought answers to the questions Humanism posed: Bernardine Ochino and his circle of relationships.
Born in 1487 of somewhat humble beginnings in Siena, Ochino was a devoted Tuscan who entered the reformed “Observant” branch of the Friars Minor in 1504. He is known to have been a student of languages at Capriola (Latin, Greek and Hebrew) while he also studied, along with his fellow Franciscans of the time, the works of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Bonaventure and Scotus. He interrupted his Franciscan life for a few years to study medicine at Perugia sometime before 1510, where, it is said, he became friends with Giulio de’ Medici, the future Clement VII.
His rise to fame within the Observant reform was swift. After the “bull of union” in 1517 which the Observant “reform” effectively became the “Friars Minor,” he was elected the minister provincial of the new province of Siena. His pride in his Tuscan roots is seen in his championing the cause of having his province known as the “Tuscan province” in opposition to the Florentine “mother province.”
In 1530, he was entrusted with a mission to oversee the elections of the Venetian province by Paul Pisotti, the General Minister. Perhaps this “shameless intrigue,” in the words of Cuthbert of Brighton, with its task of manipulating the elections of the province for the General’s personal motives was an important moment in his disillusionment of institutional structures. His work at this time was respected widely enough to see him elected Definitor General of the Friars in 1532.
Later in his life, after his turn to Protestantism, Ochino would reflect on his life and on his own searching throughout this period:
Havendo adunque desiderio di salvarmi, andai considerando che vita dovessi tenere, et credendo che le religioni humane fusseno sante, massime per essere approbate dalla Chiesa Romana la quale pensavo non potesse errare, parendomi che la vita de’ frati di San Francesco, nominati dell’osservantia, fusse la più aspra, austera et rigida, però la più perfetta et a quella di Christo più conforme, entrai infra di loro. Et benchè io non vi trovassi quello che m’era imaginato, nientedimeno non mi si mostrando per all’hora vita migliore, secondo el mio cieco giudito, stetti così in fino a tanto che incominciorno apparire al mondo i frati Cappuccini. Et visto l’asperezza della vita loro, con repugnantia non piccola della mia sensualità et carnal prudentia presi l’abito loro, et credendo haver trovato quello che cercavo, mi ricordo che dissi a Christo: Signore, se hora non mi salvo non so che farmi più.
It is difficult to ascertain the levels of this soul-searching given the differing perspective which time brought to Ochino’s memory. Certainly, after his flight, he was occupied with his own defense and, hence, with a thorough “re-reading” of his previous life “sotto l’impio regno d’Antechristo.” At the same time, we can see the intensity with which Ochino sought out the way of life which would be most “conformed to Christ.”
But what makes the reconstruction of the Ochinian biography so problematic is that all of his choices were to undergo the same “re-reading” and “re-scruitny” in the light of his conversion to Protestantism. What appears beyond doubt is that Ochino sensed, as did others at the time, a continued frustration in his life as an Observant friar. The situation in the Order, particularly under the political maneuverings of Paul Pisotti (witnessed first-hand by Ochino through his work in Venice on Pisotti’s behalf) had convinced many that a reform of the movement was impossible from “within” the Observant branch.
An unexpected ally, at least in this latter opinion, was Cardinal Gianpietro Carafa, the future Paul IV who would become one of Ochino’s major critics and among the initial few to suspect him of heretical leanings. In witnessing the abuses within the Venetian province, the then bishop of Chieti wrote to Clement VII on October 4, 1532:
It is impossible without a sweeping reformation, to speak about, let alone observe the pure rule of St. Francis. Since the matter is too obvious and supported by the witness of the entire people, no arguments are necessary. If anyone says, “Well, then, that entire congregation should be reformed,” I answer that this is simply impossible for any human agency on account of the great multitude of evil men who belong to that congregation and keep the good oppressed in such a way that they are not allowed to excercise any influence. . . . Nothing good can come from merely remaining together. The bad not only do not become better because of the enemy of the good, but as we actually see, they become much worse almost as a retort. Therefore, it is necessary that His holiness no longer keep the door bolted, but open the depth of his charity to so many souls who want to serve God truly . . . Let not his Holiness be stopped by false and deceptive suggestions of tyrannical, wicked and false friars.
When, in the early days of 1534, Ochino, Bernardine of Asti, Francis of Jesi and John of Fano conspired to move to the ranks of the Capuchins, the reaction of the Observants was swift. Clement VII, “broken in health and overwhelmed with cares,”seemed unable to solve the dilemma and, in fact, had issued contradictory letters which favored first the Capuchins, then the Observants and then both. But it was the Italian aristocrats and prelates, most notably the Medici Caterina Cibo and Vittoria Colonna, who would come to their defense.
When Paul III, the succeeding Pope, appointed yet another commission to study the question of the Capuchins’ status, it was Vittoria Colonna who wrote to one of the members of that commission, Gasparo Contarini:
In quanto che non obediscano al Generalissimo, se responde che se vede, se prova, se sappe che la religion de la Observanzia have bisogno di reforma; e in tre loro capitoli generali hanno concluso reformarse, e poi non l’han fatto, né possuto fare . . . Come le signorie vostre reverendissime sanno, quelli che odiano la reforma in se stessi, l’odiano ancora neli altri, perché pare che quel bianco scuopra più il negro loro. E questa è la potissima causa di tanta persecuzione ad costoro.
While, perhaps, we cannot totally discount the claims that Ochino’s intentions were less than noble, the continued recognition of his gifts and genuine Capuchin spirit on the part of the people and, indeed, his fellow Capuchins, cannot be denied. He was elected to the definitory of Bernardine of Asti’s administration, was instrumental in the authoring of the Order’s first Constitutions in 1536 and, then, succeeded Asti as Vicar General of the Order in 1538 due, in part, to the former’s ill health. But the friars were to appreciate his leadership. He was to be re-elected (though he expressed his reluctance for the office) in 1541. Certainly, Ochino’s austerity of life and popular following proved to be a strength for the new community as it gained continued recognition and support from the people of Italy.
As Lazaro Iriarte has written of the impression he made on those around him:
Since he had joined the Capuchin reform, this distinguished personality had won the unanimous admiration of all the friars and friends of the Order, especially Vittoria Colonna and her circle of humanists, by his devotion to observance of the Rule, his austerity, his unaffected fervor, and his gift of government. The young reform was proud to have him as one of its members.
And proud it should have been as it appears. Bernardine of Colpetrazzo, one of the earliest chronicles would see these years between 1533 and 1541 as “il più glorioso dell’Ordine ‘appresso il mondo’” because of the great men and great preachers who joined its ranks. Although Ochino was increasingly becoming an important figure among the Italian Franciscans, it was with the Capuchins that Ochino’s fame in Italy would flourish.
By all accounts, it is generally agreed that he was the most popular preacher of his day. The pope himself had to manage his schedule and decide which city would have the honor of his preaching. A brief sumary of his preaching missions and his apostolic activity is staggering, given the fact that he was also the Capuchin Vicar General:
Il prêcha la Carême à Rome en 1534 et 1535, à Naples en 1536, à Venise de 1537 à 1539, à Milan en 1541, puis de nouveau à Venise en 1542. Entre-temps il prêchait en d’autres villes: Pérousse, Avent 1536, etc., où il êtablit en 1539 le collège des “Cappucinelli e delle Zitelle derelitte.” Il prêcha aussi a Florence, Ferrare, Bologne en 1537; à Faenza, Lucques et Naples en 1538. Après le chapitre général des capucins à Florence, il prêcha a Sienne, Rome et en Sicile. En 1540 il est de nouveau à Sienne pour l’Avent et y introduit la dévotion des quarante heures; puis à Pérouse, Naples et Palerme. En 1541 il se rend à Modène et à Casale . . . . Rétabli d’une maladie à Florence, il va à Bologne en 1542 et, après un Carême dramatique a Venise . . . il s’arrêta quelques semaines à Verone et y organisa un cours d’Êcriture sainte sur les épîtres de saint Paul pour les jeunes prédicateurs capucins . . . .
In fact, immediately prior to his departure for Switzerland, it is known that he had already been requested for yet other preaching missions by both the Cardinal of Mantua, Ercole Gonzaga (with great insistence) and the Cardinal of Bologna, Gasparo Contarini (for the Lent of 1543).
A noted humanist of the day, Pietro Aretino, was to cite what he saw as the prevalent theme of his sermons: “All that he says relates to mercy, salvation, and the remission of sins.” In a letter from Venice in March of 1539 to Giustiniano Nelli, he wrote:
Io ardisco dire che dagli apostoli al dí d’oggi, niuno abbia mai nel predicare pareggiato lui. Lo schietto e il puro di san Paolo rimbomba negli organi de le sue esclamazioni, a tempo formate e a tempo interrote. Come risplende bene lo Evangelo, intessuto con il cristiano de le sue disgressioni! . . . Onde le torme dei populi non altrimenti si trasferiscono a udirlo che se egli fusse il Battista ne le solitudini. Sono sopraumani gli intelletti pieni di spiriti e gli spiriti pieni d’intelletti, che si veggono e si sentono nel catolico de le sue prediche, il grave corpo de le quali respira con un fiato sí possente e sí veemente, che ben si vede in che maniera la natura e lo studio gli fanno squillare le cose di Dio vero, di Dio sommo, di Dio solo. Veramente egli è l’onor del suo Ordine e de la nostra Italia.
But despite the fact that Ochino’s preaching was such as to “make the stones cry,” he was to come under continued pressure from Carafa and the reforming Theatines, as were various members of the reforming groups in Italy.
As was seen above, Carafa had already been active in the cause of correcting the problems of the Venetian Observants where he had first had dealings with Ochino. In his letter of October 1532, he also advised the then pope Clement VII of the “accursed nest of conventual Franciscan friars” who were disseminators of the “Luther heresy.”
At that time, Carafa was concerned with those “heretics and apostates” who “on account of the attraction and curious nature of various heresies” attract the “common multitude:”
I call “common multitude all those who favor them; because of our sins there are those among them whom the world does not consider as part of the vulgar crowd [i.e., members of the upper classes].
And Ochino and the Capuchins were, in a unique way, tied to this “common multitude” through the friends who supported them and the people with whom they shared a common thirst for spiritual and ecclesial reform.
After a stirring Lent in Venice when he had condemned the imprisonment of Giulio della Rovere with such vehemance, he was called to Rome in July of 1542, by Paul III’s nephew, the Cardinal Farnese. It appears that even some among his friends advised him that the choice was either flight or condemnation at the hands of the Inquisition. Ochino chose flight at the age of 57 after meeting with a dying Contarini and other friends and associates, among whom was Peter Vermigli, the popular reformer who was to make the same choice. Ochino would be aided by Caterina Cibo and Ascanio Colonna, Vittoria’s brother, and supported by many of the very humanists who had supported him in his Franciscan life.
Despite the fact that Juan de Valdés was born and educated in Spain, “esercitò una vasta e profonda influenza sulla vita religiosa italiana del primo Cinquecento.” Beyond a doubt, Ochino was to be the font and the conduit of much of that influence.
As a young man, Valdés would have heard the alumbrado Pedro Ruiz de Alcaraz preaching in the household of the Villena family for whom his own family were in service as humanist secretaries and notaries. The themes of abandonment to God, of God’s sovreign freedom, of his love for humanity and the denial of any type of human merit or devotion in winning God’s freely-offered salvation were to play a major role in Valdés’ teaching.
In 1526, he attended the famous University of Alcalá de Henáres where he stayed for four years studying Greek, Hebrew, Latin and Italian and Spanish literature. His education was nothing if not well-rounded. It was after authoring his Diálogo de doctrina cristiana in 1529, that he came under the suspicion of the infamous Spanish Inquisition by whom he successfully avoided condemnation. He left Spain for Italy in 1531, however, after a second charge of Lutheranism was leveled against him.
It was Naples which was to be the center of Valdés’ activity in 1532 after having spent time working at the papal court. At the death of Clement VII in 1534, and the election of the Farnese pope, Paul III, Valdés moved into the “shadows” of ecclesial involvement “whilst others expounded his doctrine in the limelight.”
Valdés authored a commentary on the psalms, wrote his classic Alfabeto Cristiano, the dialogue with Giulia Gonzaga which was to form the inspiration for Ochino’s own with Caterina Cibo, and commented on the Epistles of Paul to the Romans and the Corinthians.
Valdés spirituality was a peculiar blending of elements which are still being debated. Certainly, evidences of alumbrados mysticism along with an intellectual refinement of Erasmus are noteworthy. The alumbrados tradition was one of the more prominent movements of lay spirituality in Spain which tended toward quietistic, anti-intellectual themes while viewing a direct contact with God above any sort of sacramentally mediated encounter. Since the accent of Valdés appears to have been on “inner piety,” he took a markedly passivist stance toward institutional structures and their reform. This could well explain his welcome reception among the humanists of Italy whose spirituality seemed also to concentrate on personal reform of life. There are many scholars today who would see this “passive” spirituality united with a “distance” to ecclesial structures as being the hallmarks of Valdés’ Italian influence (and characteristic of his “blending” of the traditions) as well as the reason behind their ability to remain free of suspicion for some years. As Cantimori claimed:
[Valdés] seppe inserire il suo rifiuto della tradizionale dogmatica cattolica e la sua propaganda per la dottrine luterane in quel movimento di ritorno alla pratica e alla fede dell’età evangelica e di quella apostolica, che viene chiamato evangelismo e che non ha nulla di eterodosso.
Recent work, however, has more strongly questioned the role of a third influence: Luther. Valdés, in his Diálogo de doctrina cristiana, is suspected to have translated literally or paraphrased widely from 2 works by Luther written in 1518 and 1520. It could be noted that these traces of Lutheranism may well speak as much to the issue of Luther’s “orthodoxy” in many respects at this time as to that of Valdés’ implied “heterodoxy.” They were part of the “free-thinking” notions accepted by many of the “potenti famiglie nobili italiane e spagnole” and sheds important light on the acceptance of the “justification by faith” when viewed in the light of the “benefice of Christ,” i.e., for Valdés, his talk of the remission of sins, the freely offered gift of salvation, the renunciation of our own justice and trusting in God’s justice brought about through Jesus Christ, and the election by God which leads us into the reign of God.
Salvatore Caponetto sees the particular uniqueness of Valdés, beyond his personality and his ability to win hearts, as residing in “l’immensa fortuna del suo insegnamento:”
La concezione della fede come esperienza esistenziale del credente “incorporato in Cristo” e la descrizione del drammatico itinerario dalla rigenerazione alla santificazione, fatta con una non comune capacità d’introspezione dell’animo, sono uno degli apporti più felici alla grande, ricca, varia stagione religiosa del Cinquecento.
The second hallmark which characterizes the Spanish teacher according to Caponetto is his “irenismo erasmiano.” Philip McNair also sees a strong relationship between Erasmus’ Enchiridion and the Diálogo of Valdés:
The Diálogo presents a reasoned plea for religion of the heart. It insists on inward spirituality, denies the objective efficacy of sacraments, emphasizes the faith and charity which are the pith and stomach of the Christian religion — compared with which “las ceremonias y estatudos de la yglesia” are mere accessories. Although the author is not afraid to differ with Erasmus . . . , nevertheless the teaching of the dialogue is confessedly Erasmian in tone and character, deriving its particular flavour from that “excellente doctor verdaderamente teologo que agora bive: el qual se llama Erasmo roterodamo.”
Ochino met Valdés in 1536 while preaching in Naples, the same time in which the Emperor Charles V had heard Ochino’s sermons in the church of San Giovanni Maggiore. It is said that Valdés himself offered the themes for Ochino’s sermons there, and it would appear from most sources that Ochino’s preaching took a decided turn at that time toward Valdesian themes.
In the tradition of the alumbrado in Spain, a group of followers came to gather around Valdés often known as the “spirituali,” formed, for the most part, of leading humanists of his day. Commonly listed as members of this “circle,” beyond Ochino himself, are: Pier Martire Vermigli, Pietro Carnesechi, Giulia Gonzaga, Isabella Bresegna, Benedetto Fontanini, Marcantonio Flaminio, as well as Caterina Cibo and Vittoria Colonna. It’s influence would be felt into the hierarchy through Cardinals Gasparo Contarini, Reginald Pole, Giovanni Morone and Gian Matteo Giberti.
It is this “Valdesi circle” which was to have a profound impact on how “humanist” principles transformed into “reformation” ideology. While Ochino was to walk into Switzerland in 1542, his relationship to this group was to be influential both in his own spirituality and in his choice of flight. At the center of the conflict is what has traditionally been called “evangelism.”
Before moving further to look into some of the more prominent relationships among the humanists which would influence Ochino in the environment of 16th Century religious attitudes, it seems appropriate to analyze the current state of the discussion regarding the situation of Italian Reform thought during the time of Ochino’s years as a Capuchin.
There is little doubt that the doctrine of justification was a part of the “free thinking” atmosphere of Italy from 1520 through 1540. Certainly, as we will see, it was at least implied in much of Ochino’s preaching. But from where did it emerge?
While the disseminated tracts of the Lutherans and Calvinists from the north had a profound influence in the shape of the doctrine’s preaching in Italy, the very presence of other elements, e.g., the parallel preaching of the Franciscans, the Augustinians and even the new-found sixteenth century Orders shared a part in its seminal development. But it is the complexity of influences and parallel movements which contribute to the difficulties of current resarch.
So-called “Erasmianism,” certainly an independent movement from Lutheranism, was the impetus which gave many reform-minded Catholics a “handle” on which to put their Christocentric beliefs as well as their distrust of the “superstitious works” that would often accompanied the abuses within Church practice. And, as we saw above, a major contributor to the growth of the doctrine of justification by faith was Valdés’ understanding of the “benefice of Christ” (he was, indeed, the major influence behind the thoughts of the great work written on the subject), and the passive role of the human person in the act of salvation. As Gleason has written, “[The Benefice of Christ] is perhaps the best testimony to the complicated nature of Italian participation in the European movement for reform.”
For Philip McNair, Ochino’s own conversion in Naples in 1536 was “the conversion of an Erasmian to Evangelism.” He implies by this that Ochino crossed a line which would associate him intimately with the teachings of Valdés and would separate him from other reform-minded companions from 1536 onwards; the decision would culminate in Ochino’s choice of flight rather than his remaining in Italy as a clandestine believer in justification by faith. Yet, were all Valdés’ admirers part of Italian “evangelism?” Were all “evangelicals” necessarily “nicodemites?” Were all “nicodemites” simply “protestant?”
The use of the terms “reformation,” “evangelism,” “lutheranism,” and “nicodemism,” are themselves revelatory of a particular stance toward the historical data and can be polemic in nature. On the extreme, while acknowledging that distinctions must be made to examine clearly “the complex structure of the reforming movement in Italy,” McNair makes the charge that:
“Evangelism” has been used as a Roman Catholic device for explaining away an embarassing phase of Catholic Church history when what looks suspiciously like crypto-Lutheranism invaded the very College of Cardinals. The salient common denominator of the historians of Evangelism hitherto is that they have all been non-Protestant . . . The main implication of the thesis of these scholars is that Evangelism was an indigenous Catholic phenomenon independent of Lutheranism.
In fact, McNair appears correct in saying that Lutheranism had invaded the libraries of most of the humanist reformers of the day and was widely read and valued, but equally true is the more traditional stance among Catholic scholars which would follow along the lines of Eva-Maria Jung. She has insisted, along with historians such as Jedin, that there were independent strains of the humanist love for Paul and Augustine which had influenced the thinking of the reform-minded Italians south of the Alps and, indeed, she claims, that it was “not only independent from but older than those in Protestantism” via Italian Humanism and Erasmian influences.
The essential difference between Evangelism and Protestantism lies in the fact that Evangelism simply did not protest. It may have been at times heretical, but it was never schismatical. It sought not to reform the Church by force but the individual by faith. 
While it is our purpose here only to expose the complexity of the dilemma, it is certainly true that distinctions need to be drawn. As McNair writes:
Evangelism is too loose a term to be patient of scientific explanation. It can mean whatever its users make it. Does it embrace Savanarola? The Oratory of Divine Love? Carafa? If it is taken to mean a return to the Gospels, this is so wide a definition that it would include every Franciscan and Capuchin. It is of precise use and meaning only if it is taken to signify a return to the Gospel, for to a Protestant the Gospel entails the doctrine of Justification by Faith, . . . for the real issue in pre-Tridentine discussion was always Justification by Faith. Men either accepted it, rejected it, or came to terms with it. . . . Anybody who passed from [Justification by Works] to [Justification by Faith] must have been conscious of the passage.
But all those involved in “evangelism,” while they may have passed into belief in this doctrine, did not pass from Italy nor from the confines of the Catholic Church of the time. While Philip McNair would indicate that the difference between the two hedges on the acceptance of the doctrine of justification by faith, the argument does not concede that for many, the doctrine was, in a mode of speaking, “neuter,” i.e., associated in and of itself with neither “Catholic” or “Reformer” thought, especially prior to the council of Trent. 
We may do well to emphasize that the attitude of Italian Reform, particularly as indicated in its aristocratic and ecclesial strains, had much in common with the Humanism which had pervaded Italy for nearly two centuries and that many of its members, in fact, held the doctrine of justification by faith alone when it was not really a “doctrine,” but simply an interpretation of St. Paul. The belief was widespread and supported by leading churchmen and educated women. Caponetto cites an example of the Benedictine Gregorio Cortese who responding to the Protestant polemics, said that any denial of the papacy would turn the church into a “corpo privo della testa,” but “venti anni dopo, divenuto un entusiasta lettore del Beneficio di Cristo, non aveva mutato opinione.” As the decade of the 1530’s progressed, while the stance was becoming more associated with the Reformers to the North, the Italians who held the doctrine appeared hopeful for an official validation of their creed.
Gleason indicates that the perduring influence of Valdés was, primarily, an emphasis “on interior reform of the individual, together with his indifference to dogma or exterior practices, and ultimately to the whole structure of the Church.” This view which wants to separate the “erasmian irenicism” from the adherents to an extreme reform doctrine seems to be, contrary to McNair, supported in the recent prevalent literature by Protestant authors.
This movement to a “reform of the individual,” in fact, was to be pervasive in sixteenth century Italian religious attitudes, and is instanced in no small way in the Capuchin reform itself. A case could be made that it was the stark individualism of the Italian humanists which became the magnet which attracted many toward Reformation ideals, seeking a sense of salvation to counter the experience of personal sinfulness, as well as the source for their aversion to doctrinal disputes.
In the lines of Erasmus, Valdés devalued external religion and emphasized the “subjective inner experience of faith.” But, also like Erasmus, Italian humanist reformers were to recoil at doctrinal controversies which brought division. As we will see, they were often, through people such as Cardinal Gasparo Contarini or Reginald Pole, the very people who sought to reconcile positions, provoking Contarini to offer his theory of a “double justice,” which, however sadly, would be accepted by neither Protestant nor Catholic theologians.
A contemporary’s witness is pertinent here. The Italian humanist circles around Valdés would stir the ire of Francesco Negri, a former Benedictine, who was one of the first Italian reformers to leave his homeland in 1530. With their belief in the doctrine of justification by faith a “given,” he criticized the inability of the great “orthodox” Catholics to take that belief the added step which would force them to question and demand a change in Roman Catholic structures and practices:
[Pole, Flaminio, Morone, Ascanio Colonna, Orsino] et de molti altri uomini di grandissima autorità sì in lettere, sì in altre dignità mondane, i quali paiono aver fatto una nuova scola d’un cristianesimo ordinato al loro modo, ove essi non niegano la giustificazione dell’uomo essere per Giesù Cristo sì, ma non vogliono poi admettere le consequenzie, che indi necessariamente ne seguono, perciò che vogiono con questo tuttavia sostentare il papato, vogliono avere le messe, vogliono osservare mille altre papistice superstizioni et impietà, alla veramente cristiana pietà del tutto contrarie imaginandosi non so in qual modo, che queste cose possino aver convenienza insieme. Ma di grazia ditemi un poco che convenienza può avere la luce con le tenebre? Si può forse servire alla mensa di Cristo e dei demoni insieme? . . . O con quanta difficoltà i ricchi possono entrare nel cielo!
Negri’s somewhat hostile diatribe needs to be taken seriously. Like Calvin, he recognized that there were “sympathizers” to the Northern reformers among his Italian compatriots, but he was also aware that those who remained had a very different notion of the implications of that doctrine in practice.
Perhaps the insight of a recent historian of Erasmus is telling in its lack of inclusiveness: “A sud delle Alpi la fase erasmiana della Riforma o, se vogliamo, la Preriforma rimase sempre attuale, perché non fu mai realizata.” We might want to suggest that reform did, indeed, happen in many circles in Italy, but that it was not necessarily the Protestant reform.
In the realm of ideas, however, Bainton hypothesizes that the Protestant reformers’ challenge was a doctrinal one; Luther himself had said that he differed from other movements in that “they stressed life, and he stressed doctrine.” Bainton also repeats what we have pointed out above that “the Franciscan preachers, as observed, inveighed against vices rather than questioning the teachings of the Church.”
This dynamic of a “doctrinal tolerance” in many Italian reformers is noted by much of the recent literature and it provides a tempting link to the Italian humanist movement, so much a part of the temperament of the country and of the educational lprogram which helped to shape its leaders.
Valdés was to have a profond impact on the development of Ochino’s thought via Valdés’ own soteriology of Christ’s freely offered grace and its Luteran underscoring. At the same time, Ochino nurtured friendships among the humanists and reformers in Valdés’ circle of “spirituali” which was, in many ways, to influence Ochino’s more irenic stance during the years prior to his flight in 1542.
We choose three of his closest friends to analyze here. Unlike Vermigli or Carnesecchi, none are to be actually convicted of heresy and yet all of them are known to have shared sympathies with Ochino. Perhaps they can be said to typify three ranges of response to Ochino and his work: Caterina Cibo, in all probability, remained faithful to him throughout her life; Vittoria Colonna is said to have condemned his choice of flight and never made contact again; Gasparo Contarini’s own intentions are unclear because of his death which coincided with the time Ochino’s flight. Though differing perhaps in their understanding of “reform,” all three were humanists par excellence and shared with Ochino the desire for a reformed church, whether through a reform of the individual, a reform of church structure or both.
The Capuchin reform movement owed its original existence as a separate branch of the Franciscan family to the bull Religionis Zelus of Clement VII in 1528, obtained through the intercession of Clement’s niece, the Medici Caterina Cibo, whose grandfather had been Innocent VIII. Her intercessions with her uncle were, without a doubt, a sine qua non to the survival of the nascent reform. As Cargnoni notes:
In verità, soltanto il potentissimo intervento della nobildonna Caterina Cybo rese possibile la concessione, inusitata, di una bolla che autorizzava due soli richiedenti esclaustrati — fra Matteo non viene menzionato — a fondare una congregazione religiosa, quando di norma una bolla o documento del genere veniva rilasciato per confermare, oppure per regolare, una riforma che avesse conseguito un certo sviluppo e collaudo.
The early Capuchins had been noted for their austerity, their authenticity of life as well as for their success in working among plague victims in Camerino, where, as its Duchess, Caterina had first been exposed to them.
Caterina was one of the more learned women of Italy, having studied Latin, Greek and Hebrew. She was “versata nelle ‘humane lettere,’ nella sacra teologia e nella filosofia.” Like most women of her day, she was promised in marriage in order to further her families’ interests and, when her husband was made Duke of Camerino by her uncle, Leo X, these interests appear to have been achieved, although not without challenge and dispute.
Once the Medici, Clement VII had become pope, Caterina was frequently in Rome making intercession for her family.
But the sack of Rome in 1527 saw many of the Medici fleeing after the imprisonment of Clement VII, and Caterina herself was to suffer imprisonment in Camerino by the Imperial forces. Caponetto has well noted the shock that this event created for Italy, especially as it became clear that Imperial Spanish authority would dominate Italy and Papal authority would suffer from its weakness. In 1533, she was to accompany her famous relative, Caterina de’ Medici in her marriage to the future Henry II of France, a further seal of the Medici family to work against the Imperial forces who were, for all intents and purposes, Spanish.
She was admired by leading Italian humanists of her day and was certainly active within its circles. Her more “private” life began shortly after the succession of Paul III, the Roman Farnese pope hated by the Florentine Medici, when the latter had her excommunicated for not fulfilling his wishes regarding the marriage of her daughter. Cibo’s intentions were to secure her family’s future position in Camerino, but Paul III had had other plans. Thus, after March of 1535, it is assumed that Caterina fled to Florence where she remained with her brother, Lorenzo Medici.
She was to appear as conversing with Ochino in four of his Seven Dialogues, Ochino’s most celebrated pre-exilic work, and it was, in all probability, in her house in Florence that Ochino would later exchange his religious habit for the clothes of the reformer. As we will see in the following chapter, the “Testament” which she leaves in the final dialogue, albeit largely the work of Ochino, is also a Testament to her shared Valdesian leanings and to her devotion to the doctrines of the Spanish mystic.
But Ochino was not the only author who was to appreciate the devotion and religiosity of the duchess. Her activity among the Italian nobility, in both Florence and Rome, showed itself in her being praised and held in esteem by many of the leading artists of the day: she was a correspondent with Berni who hailed her “animo divino,” her virtue, her wisdom and her valor in his Orlando innamorato and I Ragionamenti of Firenzuola were dedicated to her. Benedetto Varchi addressed a sonnet to her at the same time in which he exalted Valdés “a cui fu sì conta la via ch’al ciel conduce.”
Unfortunately, we know very little of her activity after her self-imposed exile in Florence. The relationship of Giulia Gonzaga to Valdés would appear to parallel that of Ochino to the duchess. Yet, Gonzaga continued her dedication even in the face of charges of heresy in her later years, whereas Cibo’s dedication is not proven beyond doubt, at least with total clarity. Not clear, especially, are her attachments and her intentions among the Valdesian circle in Naples and of her professed beliefs regarding justification by faith after the flight of Ochino. The information we do have only seems to imply that she was very much involved, at the least, in supporting others who were to be suspected or condemned for heresy by the Inquisition. Carnesecchi, whose various processes with the Inquisition have been noted, states that her relationship continued with Ochino after his flight. She was also in correspondence with Marcantonio Flaminio and was very much a part of the relationships which flourished around Reginald Pole and Viterbo after the death of Valdés in 1542.
She was present in Fossombrone at the death of her daughter in 1547, and died in 1557, after having inherited the “usufrutto” of the palace and “loggia dei Pazzi” on her brother’s death. Interestingly, she was charged with heresy after her death because of her associations with the “spirituali.” The Holy Office called her “Ducissa Camerini haeretica, sectatrix haereticorum,” due, in large part, to the testimony of her friend, Carnesecchi, and the associations she propagated.
After Caterina Cibo’s fall from influence, the protection and defense of both Bernardine Ochino and the Capuchins was to pass to the hands of Vittoria Colonna, another woman of letters and a humanist of grand influence. Her father, Fabrizio Colonna, had participated with Charles VIII in the imperial conquest of Naples. In fact, her life was to be at the center of the political and ecclesial disputes of the time. Her husband, the Mark of Pescara, Ferdinando Francesco d’Avalos, fought with the anti-French forces against the King of Naples in 1512 at Ravenna, and again in 1521, at the invitation of Charles V against the French King Francis I. Perhaps her family typified the various alliances and counter-alliances which were to be so common in the period. Through her husband, the Colonna family was to have ties with the Spanish emperor and the court of Aragon. The interests of the papacy, France, England and Spain (itself tied to the Holy Roman Empire through the Hapsburg Charles V) were highly competitive, and the papacy was to find itself at odds with all throughout the period as nationalistic causes slowly divided the continent. The Mark had died in 1525, perhaps from wounds at a battle in which his imperial forces were victorious over the French. Colonna’s “love” for her husband is reflected in a number of her first poetic pieces.
Few other aristocrats of the ‘500s would have had the influence and the contacts of Vittoria Colonna:
La C[olonna] è uno dei personaggi più tipicamente rappresentativi di quel nodo di cultura, potere e religione che stringe le fila della vita di quasi tutti gli intellettuali rinascimentali. La sua vita è caraterizzata da una popularità eccezionale che forse nessun’altra donna del suo secolo conosce. A parte le relazioni personali che ce l’hanno mostrata in rapporti di stima e amicizia con i personaggi più potenti dell’epoca (da Carlo V ai pontefici) , troviamo il suo nome nei testi di moltissimi scrittori a lei contemporanei, che le hanno inviato espressioni di amicizia, stima, ammirazione.
Particularly notable were her relationships within the hierarchy of the Church. Though she was frequently in conflict with Paul III because of her brother Ascanio’s temperament toward the papacy and his desire to fight for Colonna land within the papal states, Vittoria Colonna was frequently, like Caterina Cibo, at the defense of causes which she saw as important. During the sack of Rome, she personally offered help to the citizens of the city and, while there, became especially enamored of the early Capuchin work among the poor there. She was quick to defend them in 1534 when the battles for autonomy from the Friars Minor became acute (and their continued existence in Rome was threatened). Her work with ecclesiastics like Gasparo Contarini and Cardinal Quiñones during this time was to typify her active involvement in and concern for the causes of spiritual reform.
Colonna’s own religious affiliations are difficult to determine. While many (not the least of whom are Capuchins) would want to paint her as a “cattolica purissima,” charges of “heretical” thinking plague her today as much as in the sixteenth century. Sergio Pagano was to write that Colonna “non fu mai oggetto di un vero procedimento inquisitoriale forse solo perché la morte . . . la salvò,” though her friendships with the likes of Pole, Contarini and Ochino “avrebbero reso probabili in un immediato futuro.” While we cannot simply imply a “guilt by association,” nonetheless, her associations with the leading currents of Italian reform were indeed extensive. As Emidio Campi has rightly indicated:
Se nel 1947 Hubert Jedin poteva negare l’esistenza di posizioni eterodosse nel pensiero e nell’opera della nobildonna romana, il suo coinvolgimento attivo nella cerchia degli ‘spirituali’ è ormai un fatto pacifico della storiografia contemporanea.
Certainly, her spirituality is marked by the reform emphases of her day, as Jedin indicates, but it would not be out of place to suggest that Valdés’ influence was equally a part of the ambience (and one perhaps that she shared more intimately through Ochino) that can be sensed in her stunning and famous plea to Contarini for the Capuchins’ survival in 1536. On the charge that they be Lutheran, a charge which is more than interesting given the climate of the times, perhaps Colonna could speak for all those who sought reform and were accused in the same way:
. . .[To the charge that they be Lutheran], se responde che, si san Francesco fu eretico, li si imitatori son luterani. E si predicar la libertà del spirito sopra li vizi, ma subgietto ad ogni ordinazion della sancta Chiesa, se chiama errore, sarria ancora errore observare lo Evangelio che dice in tanti: Spiritus est qui vivificat, etc.
We can see by these simple quotations that she had already assimilated both the Pauline distinctions of “flesh” and “spirit” and the Franciscan-Reformation-Humanist ambience which began to question the notions of authority’s basis on the Gospel.
This activity in defense of the friars was to forge a close bond with Ochino whom she would come to admire. With her help, Ochino helped the Order to spread by establishing houses like the one in Ferrara in 1537. She is known to have travelled from city to city following Ochino “per non privarsi delle se ‘mirabil prediche’”  and followed his life closely “fino al dramma finale dell’apostosia.”
In the defense of his preaching, Colonna wrote to Ercole Gonzaga in 1537:
Io ho voluto advisarne vostra signoria perché, ove bisogno, facci l’offizio, che la sua virtù e bontà conviene, ché almeno se non lo amano e onorano, come ne la cità ove non è passione han facto, almeno lo lasseno ne la sua fatiga salvar le anime. Il che se vede fa maravigliosamente, benché io per mia tristizia non ne abia auta altra consolazione che de udirlo dire da infinite persone.
Emidio Campi, who has recently completed a thorough study of the poetry of Vittoria Colonna during this period makes a convincing case that “l’idea che l’uomo non è accolto da Dio per una sua intrinseca giustizia, ma per la giustizia che viene dalle piaghe del Crocifisso, scorre come un filo d’oro attraverso tutte le Rime.” But the event which was to be most shattering, Ochino’s flight, sees the Marchesa publicly disassociating herself from her famous spiritual guide.
Ochino had written her the now famous letter in August, 1542 which she is said not to have read. He apologizes for not seeking her counsel prior to flight, but claims that he had intended to seek also the counsel of Cardinal Pole. She is also quoted as saying, “quanto più si accusa, e quanto più crede salvar altri da naufragii, più li espone al diluvio, essendo lui fuor dell’Arca che salva ed assicura.” Certainly, her own private feelings are impossible to determine, but it is noteworthy that she appears to be intimately involved in the “Viterbo circle” which was to gather together around Reginald Pole, her newly chosen spiritual guide, after the death of Valdés and the beginnings of the Inquisition.
Colonna’s friendships with Reginald Pole and Michelangelo were determinative toward the end of her life. Pole had intervened that she might cease with her heavy fasts and strong penances which appear to have ravaged her health. In a letter to him, she expressed her desire to “go to God,” while at the same time thanking him for his counsel to see a physician. The doctor, Girolamo Fracastoro, himself connected with the religious group of Contarini and Giberti, wrote of his concern for the health of Colonna “che andava via via peggiorando.” She became more and more secluded. She wrote to Michelanglo in 1546: “Cognoscerete che de’ miei quasi già morti scritti ringratio solamente il Signore, perché l’offendeva meno scrivendoli, che con l’otio hora fo.”
She died in 1547, but not, it would seem, without the faith that the Lord had “rendered her just” by his death. She wrote in 1546:
Io per me son un’ombra indegna e vile,
sol per virtù de l’alme piaghe sante
del mio Signor, non per mio merto viva;
Egli giusta mi rende, sciolta e priva
del vecchio Adamo, e fu, mio caro amante,
rendimi ognor più accesa, ognor più umile . . . .
Ei [Cristo] degno e giusto agli occhi Tuoi ricopre
me ingiusta e indegna con quel largo manto
col quale me nasconde e Se stesso opre.
Gasparo Contarini was a Venetian statesman who had served faithfully in posts as varied as ambassador at the imperial court under Charles V and in the papal court of Clement VII. Earlier, at the University of Padua (to 1509) he was to be a reformer of studies in the via moderna and his classical education had served well in preparing him for the diplomatic work he was to undertake his entire life.
There is no indication that Contarini had ever encountered Juan de Valdés personally, but his associations with his “spirituali” were determinative. The fact that he was made a cardinal (and subsequently ordained in 1535) perhaps attests to the reality that Clement VII and Paul III, despite personal and civic crises, had desired to include the currents of reform-minded persons within the structure of the Church.
Contarini is noted for his own early personal correspondence with his Camaldolese friend and confidant Paolo Giustiniani. In it, he reveals his own existential struggles in faith which we see in virtually all of the spiritual humanists of the day. In 1511, he wrote:
“[In confession on Holy Saturday], I myself began to think about eternal happiness and about our condition. I really understood that, if I did all possible penance and much more besides, it would be of no avail to render satisfaction for past sins, let alone merit eternal happiness . . . . Provided I asked him to make me a sharer in the satisfaction which he, without sin of his own, has rendered for us, he is immediately ready to accept me and to move to his Father to remit completely the debt I have incurred, and which I could never satisfy through my own effots.”
In 1523, in another letter to his friend, he expresses more explicitly:
“Nobody can justify himself or purge his soul of wordly affections through works. We must have recourse to divine grace which we obtain through faith in Jesus Christ . . . From this I conclude that any man that lives is but nothingness and that we must justify ourselves through the justice of another, namely Christ.
Aside from the apparent “Lutheran” connections one would make from his latter letter, it does exemplify the soul-searching and devotion which was to predispose him to relationships with others who shared the same angst and which was accompanied by the same consolation.
In 1536, Paul III had finally taken steps to summon a Council of the Church at the urgings of many reform-minded Cardinals and those who sought peace in the empire. The council would have met in Mantua in 1537 had the battles for domination among France, Germany and Spain not divided the bishops and the secular rulers as to where and how the Council should be held. Yet, in preparation for that Council, Paul III had invited nine prelates together to prepare recommendations for solving the pressing problems which confronted the Church. He had initially sought Contarini’s advice in the make-up of the commission. In the end, besides Contarini himself, Paul III was to appoint eight other prelates. These would include Reginald Pole, cousin of Henry VIII and the only non-Italian in the group, Gian Matteo Giberti and Gianpietro Carafa.
Honest and sweeping, the Proposal was to call for reform first and foremost in the Roman offices themselves. “The principal law,” wrote the prelates, “should be that as far as possible all other laws be observed.” Believing (as Caraffa had in his own letter to Paul III cited above) that all reform must begin with the “head,” “the cure,” they say, “must begin where the disease took its origin.” Simony, abuse of benefices and the multiple exemptions to religious communities have all contributed to the state of confusion and distrust of authority in the Church, and the Proposal boldly challenges even the Pope himself that
it should be unlawful even for the Vicar of Christ, to obtain any wealth through the power of the keys given him by Christ. For this is Christ’s command, ‘Freely you have received, freely you shall give.’
While it would be impossible to isolate certain opinions contained in the proposal, the draft itself indicates the prevailing sentiments of the reform-minded cardinals at the time. The reform of the Church was seen first and foremost as a reform of discipline and practice, and on that point all could agree.
But what were the doctrinal positions of these prelates? The cause for doubt lies, once again, in the appropriation of the doctrine of justifiation by faith and the associations of the cardinals who were to be at the forefront of attempts to reconcile the Christians of the north with those to the south of the Alps.
In a study of the reform thought of Contarini, Elizabeth Gleason has indicated that the two most important aspects of his thinking were “la certezza della misericordia di Dio” and ”il suo senso dell’ordine gerarchico e istituzionale.” Contarini, more than most, appears to hold in base relief the tension of personal religiosity accompanied by a strong sense of the importance of the Church’s institution. He brought to the debates of the century both an understanding of the personal struggles of those with whom he worked (as legate in Venice, at the papal court and for the emperor in Regensburg) as well as an appreciation for the hierarchy for whom he worked. His labors were to bring him to Ratisbon in 1541 where he would attempt a reconciliation with the Lutheran contingents of reform, but his solutions would not find a resonance, so far had the individual causes advanced to division. But, his own attempt at diplomatic balances could cause him to write to John Eck prior to the Diet of Ratisbon:
It is our duty to continue steadfast in prayer to the God of peace and unity, that he may send down His Holy Spirit from heaven into our hearts and restore the unity of His Church. Therefore I believe it is our part to strive, by goodwill and well-doing, to put our opponents to shame . . . for separating from brethren who are filled with love.
And to Reginald Pole month before his death:
Il fudamento dello aedificio de Lutherani è verissimo, né per alcuno modo devomo dirli contra, ma accetarlo come vero et catholico, immo come fondamento della religione cristiana.
At the same time, he could express his distance from Luther when he wrote, in April of 1541:
. . . Io non sono mai per consentir a cosa, la quale non mi pare honesta et al servitio di Dio et di sua santa chiesa. Et prima che far altraente vi lasserai la vita.
In fact, he was to affirm that he would not be disposed to even accepting the Gospel of John “senza l’approvazione della Chiesa.” In a letter to preachers while reforming his own diocese in 1540, he cautioned preachers against empashizing the theme of justification by faith (though not contradicting it) because the people might misconstrue it and become “più pigro nell’agire bene, come se le nostre opere non servissero a niente.”
The role most disputed among Contarini’s many is that which he played in the flight of Bernardine Ochino. The cardinal was visited by Ochino in August 1542, just prior to the preacher’s flight and his own impending death. The nature of the cardinal’s actions are in some doubt — in part, from the testimony of Ochino and in part from the testimony of those closest to the cardinal. The dispute, however, is another example of the ambiguity of personal activity vs. public record which surrounds the period.
The first testimony of Ochino comes from his letter to Giberti written from Bologna on August 18:
Benché per la via habbia havuto chi mi induceva a non andare, nientedimeno me n’è venute più voglia qui in Bologna. Monsignor Reverendissimo mi ha visto volentieri et intertenuto questo dì per haver tempo di ragionare ins ieme. Mi doglio bene ch’el si senta alquanto indisposto; pur penso non serà altro.
On the 22nd of August, from the Capuchin house in Florence, where Bernardine was to spend his last days prior to his escape to Switzerland, he wrote Vittoria Colonna:
Posso dire che forse come per miracolo son passato Bologna, e non son stato intertenuto per lla voluntà che ho mostrata d’andare, e per lla bontà et prudenzia del car[dinal] Con[tare]no, siccome ne ho avuto violenti indici.
And later to Giberti:
Mons. Rmo Contarini non mi disse che non andassi ma mene di’cenno. Questo dico perché è morto et queste parole non gli possono pregiudicare. Nullameno haverei esseguito il Suo consiglio, et forse sareste stato di altra opinione se fuste stato in Bologna. 
There are conflicting testimonies regarding the account, both in the edition of Le Mentite Ochiniane of 1551, but with information taken from a letter of March, 1543 of Girolamo Muzio to Farnese. The “lies” indicate that Contarini had been too ill to even meet with Ochino, but Fragnito, in an exhaustive study of the testimony, indicates that other letters from the time mention the “improvement” of the condition of the cardinal just prior to the arrival of Ochino and that his condition may well have worsened during his stay there. There is conflicting evidence even in the correspondence and recollections of Contarini’s secretary, Beccadelli. Be that as it may, the discussion is often reduced to the rather crass question: “Who had reason to lie more?” The traditional opinions focused on Ochino’s attempt to justify himself, and the more recent protestant opinions tend toward the same accusation for the men and women of nobility and ecclesiastical office who remained behind. Unfortunately, neither opinion appears without some basis in truth.
While Rozzo believes that Contarini “più o meno espicitamente acconsente al progetto di fuga del cappuccino,” he is willing to admit that “nella tensione estrema di quei giorni, più o meno consapevolmente ha ricostruito gli avvenimenti a suo ‘uso psicologico.’”
Although there had been charges that Contarini had been poisoned (some insinuations were also to be made by Ochino), his death at the very moment of the flights of Ochino and Vermigli and the convoking of the Inquisition have left in doubt what his stance toward the reformers would have been. Perhaps, as testified by his life, he would have regretted the passing from the Church while understanding their moral imperative to flee.
As Gleason concludes:
Cinque mesi prima della morte scriveva al marchese del Vasto: ‘Questo sono le vere riformatione interiore, quale solo Dio puole fare, et non solamente exteriore, quale possono fare li homeni.’ L’agire umano era solo una piccola parte del processo la cui ultima ragione stava nel mistero della voluntà divina. In queste sue parola è mirabilmente riassunta l’essenza del pensiero contariniano sulla riforma.
With no compromise reached at Ratisbon, with the added political pressure on the papacy to support both French and Spanish (imperial) interests, with the re-establishment of the Inquistion under Paul III to “ferret out heresy” and to assure doctrinal unity, the “dividing line” of humanists, reformers and protestants had been drawn. What was the “dream of an understanding,” in Jedin’s words, would become the “end of an illusion,” as another more recent author has put it.
The humanists continued on a line which would widen the “chasm” between theology and “human learning” — a move that would eventual lead to Enlightenment theories devoid of religious content. The hopes of many reformers in Italy were to be dashed, and the Council of Trent would define the dividing line of Catholic belief. Except for the Waldensians, Protestant thought in Italy would be sent “underground.” Finally, the Italian “Protestants” who suddenly discovered that the nomenclature applied to them and would make their sentiments public, would be given the choice of flight or death.
Ochino went on to become one of the most noted evangelical reformers in the Reformed tradition. His tracts and sermons would be published and disseminated widely until his death in 1564. Yet, the Italy he left behind would take years to heal. Cuthbert of Brighton has mentioned that very few Orders were treated with the same contempt as the Capuchins in the wake of Ochino’s apostasy. “There was not an Order in the Church that was not bewailing the apostasy of some of its more prominent members,” he wrote but “it shows the position held by Ochino in popular estimation that his apostasy should thus be summarily imputed to the whole body of Capuchins.”
One might question further how widespread was the hostility attitude toward the Capuchin reform and what were its roots. Not a few Capuchins followed suit in fleeing Italy; the ones who remained would be suspected of harboring heresy and of being heretics themselves — some were even captured, imprisoned or put to death. Could their friends and supporters perhaps have borne the same “taint” of heresy as their Minister General?
Ochino himself would indicate that he was not alone in his belief among Capuhin preachers. He wrote that:
. . . . infra i cappucini molti et precipue i primi predicatori adherivano alla mia opinione, et che di continuo moltiplicavano quelli che essi chiamano heretici, perché credano veramente in Christo.
Philip McNair’s questions are, at least, provocative here:
[The Capuchins] had embarrassing questions to answer. How was it that ‘quel cieco et sventurato del Siena,’ ‘quella bestia, più presto uscita dell’inferno che da Frati de Zoccoli,’ ‘quella peste et maladetto apostasa’ could be elected to a second term as Vicar General within a year of his defection?
In any case, there were supporters of Ochino, public ones and private ones. The humanist Aonio Paleario, Italian poet and orator, certainly echoing sentiments of various humanists throughout the peninsula, considered the flight of Ochino to be a “misfortune for Tuscany and for Italy.” He was not alone in decrying the new tribunal of the inquisition as a “dagger against the freedom of culture and the freedom of conscience,” and in a celebrated letter to the reformers in the north, he called for a “free and general council,” summoned by political leaders, “in defense of apostolic institutions and of the Gospel.”
There have been various reasons ascribed to the reasons for which the Protestant reformation was not to have the same impact in Italy as it did to the North of the Alps. Bainton mentions various reasons for this which are worthy of consideration.
The Italian clergy, he writes, were “dependent on the papacy and did not form an independent national block.” He mentions that Italy may well have seen any new “sectarian” movement as futile in the light of their failures in the preceding centuries. He also gives credit to the papacy and the political institutions of the country which supported Religious Orders who would fight the doctrinal front, while local rulers “sought a counterpoise in the papacy” to save them from “disastrous involvements” given the tenuous situation of France against the Hapsburg empire.
After having looked at Ochino’s “environment” and those people, thoughts and events which formed his world-view, we turn now to those works of his own which still survive. Here, we hope to analyze the ways in which Ochino reflected and contributed to the themes which were born and nurtured by Italian humanists.
To speak of Ochino’s pre-exilic “writings” is to be somewhat presumptuous. Bernardine Ochino was a preacher, and as such he is not, as a Capuchin, known for his writing as much as for his popular preaching. As a “corpus” which represents the “thought” of Ochino, we have his Seven Dialogues in their various editions and, as of this point in time, only fifteen reportationes of his sermons. Ugo Rozzo, who has published an edition of the dialogues, feels that the limited amount of material can be attributed to the destruction of other possible “works” by the “caccia scatenata” of the Inquistion. On the other hand, Costanzo Cargnoni believes that this may be due as well to the “umile stile cappuccino.”
The Dialogues offer a varied, though discernible, history of redaction. Part of the work appears to have had one of its first editions published in Venice in 1540 by Zoppino, a fifteenth century printer of some note, but at that time it was known as the Dialogi quattro. The same year, the same Zoppino, however, printed an edition of I Dialogi sette in which the four of the preceding dialogues were published at the end of the collection. Thus, the first three dialogues were newly added to the corpus. From that time, we have two different editions, both of the same seven, published in Venice, one by Zoppino and the other by his associates Bindoni and Pasini.
Scholarship by Benedetto Nicolini has brought to light a singular copy of what would become the third dialogue, “Dialogo in che modo la persona debbia reggere bene se stessa,” which appears to have been authored in 1536, shortly after Ochino’s entrance into the Capuchins and, as has been noted, contemporaneous to the authorship of the Capuchin Constitutions of 1536.
We can also date the initial authorship of the seventh dialogue, “Dialogo della Divina Professione,” to 1536. This is significant to many because it is often noted for its valdesian influence and for its similarities to the reform work mentioned in the previous chapter, Beneficio di Cristo. Rozzo discovered a manuscript of the 1540 Asti edition of this writing in which the interlocutors are the “predicatore” and the “gentiluomo” instead of the printed edition’s Ochino and Cibo. Perhaps the later redaction of the work, and the change of participants in the dialogue, would indicate the development in Ochino’s thinking after 1536, of his developed relationship to Caterini Cibo, and of his debt to Valdés and Giulia Gonzaga in the former’s Alfabeto Cristiano. In any case, the date which has been discerned as the date of the initial redaction of the entire work appears to be 1539, since a polemicist against Ochino had noted a manuscript edition existent at that time which is now lost to us.
The editions of the Prediche also reflect the climax of Ochino’s Italian popularity. Nine Prediche of Ochino were published in 1541 in Venice by Zoppino, along with the Prediche predicate by Bodino and Pasini. While these sermons can in no way claim to be exhaustive, given Ochino’s prolific career mentioned in chapter 2, at the same time, they are seen to reflect in an important way the style and the themes of Ochino’s thought and may offer insight into the reasons for his popularity.
In sum, fifteen sermons have come down to us. One sermon was preached on the feast of Saint Nicholas (December 6) to university students and professors in Perugia. Bernardino is known to have been in Perugia during the Advent season in both 1536 and 1539, so the exact determination of the sermon is uncertain. The five sermons delivered in the cathedral at Lucca were transcribed by an unknown admirer of Ochino’s (and, it is assumed, without his knowledge) in 1538. The first of eight Venetian sermons was transcribed from a homily given on the feast of the Annunciation (March 25) in 1539 and another six sermons hand down to us an example of Ochino’s many Lenten discourses, delivered during the Passiontide and Easter week of the same year (March 28 through April 9). The final pre-exilic sermon offered in Venice dates from July 22, 1539, the feast of St. Mary Magdalene. Although none of these transcriptions of his sermons are known to have necessarily been edited or re-worked by Ochino himself, there is little doubt that the oratorical nature of the works display the uniqueness of the Capuchin preacher.
Viewed stylistically, the relationship to the Renaissance humanist tradition is striking. The presence of Ochino’s thought in the dialogue form is testimony to the heritage of the humanists who used the dialogue format to convey their thought and to enter into a topic while conveying a certain “objectivity” or “distance” from the material. Regarding the style of the sermons, the rhetorical method and its desire to “convince” its hearers to moral reform owes as much to the humanist agenda as to Ochino’s Franciscan roots mentioned above by Oberman. The early Capuchin’s desire to convince his hearers of the message proclaimed and to do so through words which literally “inflame” his hearers is undeniable.
Faithful to the preacher they heard, the transcribers of the sermons included the various pauses Ochino would offer to give his hearers a needed “break” to maintain attention (such as “Riposiamci un poco” or “Ma fermati un poco”); they revealed how he personally addressed his audience to involve them in his thought (“Alcuno mi dirà . . . O tu dirai . . . E perché anco tu mi potresti dire . . . ”); they reported the personal stories and examples which would relate Ochino’s teachings to the personal experience of the hearers (stories and metaphors of birds, ants or cats along with personal stories about the cities themselves or happenings there); as well as exclamations of exasperation which betrayed Ochino’s personal fire (“Deh!” “Oh!” or “Ohimè!”). The transcriptions, thus, give us a unique and fascintating “window” into the popular preacher’s thought and manner.
In treating the various themes in Ochino’s “writings,” we will see examples of the many ways in which humanist and evangelical themes are woven throughout his works. As Bernardine of Colpetrazzo, the Capuchin chronicler, had noted, Ochino was a true “maestro del nuovo predicar le Scritture Sacre,” and as such, his works typify the concerns and the preoccupations of the humanist circles in which he was active as well as the dreams of the Italy whom he addressed between 1536 and 1542.
It is difficult to systematize the works of Ochino because he does not present himself as a theologian nor does he, even in the Dialogues, follow any logical system or progression. This is not to say, however, that there are not patterns and themes which recur consistently in the works which we possess. The following themes are chosen because of their widespread presence in Ochino’s thought and because of their relation to the ambience of sixteenth century humanist and reform thought.
Like many of the religious humanists of his day, Ochino’s writings can be seen to reflect Erasmus’ “philosophy of Christ;” it is in the light of Christ that Ochino sees all knowledge reflected and consummated. In his sermon to university students at Perugia, after having reflected on the “worldly knowledge” offered by philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, the preacher rails against those who would assume that faith could come from any other source:
Ohimé, che cosa è la filosofia senza Cristo, eccetto ombra e oscura tenebra? . . . Sappi, la mia città, che la fede de Cristo non ha mai avuto il maggior nemico quanto la semplice umana sapienza. Vedi un poco nella primitiva Chiesa, che era supremo grado de perfezione, perché l’evangelica legge era separata dalla mondana sapienza. Doppoi che vennero gli filosofi, diventavano eretici; e quanto più cresceva la mondana scienza, tanto più la Chiesa si abbassava. Gli filosofi, senza la legge di Cristo, sono gli primigeniti d’Egitto, patriarchi de iniquità.
The wisdom of this world is in “shadow,” according to Ochino. Light and darkness figure prominently in his imagery. In fact, one may see the illuministic strains of Plato, Augustine and the Franciscan school as pervasive in his articulation of this “true” wisdom. “La vera filosofia senza Cristo non è luce,” and the wisdom of this world has “obscured” the loving law.
Looking back to the practice of the “primitive church” was a common reference point for him. In the early days of the Christian faith, without philosophers and without theological dialectic, the root of belief was the Scripture, and one can see in the above citation his own feeling that the church had “lowered” itself in this movement away from the sources of faith. If the Christian were to take away all of the laws and statutes that have come down to us and “solo se vivesse con la soave e amorosa legge di Cristo,” he or she would live in the same simple way as in this “primitive church:”
non sarebbi tanti litigi; i mortali scinderiano ogni dubbietà e ogni discordia senza errare; e se pure errassero, non andariano le liti in infinito.
In the third dialogue, when the “duchessa” is seeking happiness, she says that she has looked for it “nella scienza e nella eloquenza, nelle virtù morali, in speculare la verità e contemplare Dio, in gustare tutte le cose, massime Dio, e finalmente ho esperimentato tutto e trovato miserie dove io pensavo fusse la felicità.” The first movement in seeking “true” happiness, responds the “padre,” is to renounce all things of creation, i.e., not to seek after things that cannot perdure. We are happy, as Plato has said, when “non pendea se non solo da Dio.”
Our Christian lives and our moral lives converge in this lived response to our faith in Christ. We would be more pure and more faithful were we to ground all things in this “law of Christ.” Reminiscent of the Capuchin Constitutions, Ochino reminds his learned hearers that there is only one “book” in which is found all truth: “questo libro è il benegno Giesú . . . . Ogni persona e che sia ignorante, leggendolo, sentiria tanta dolcezza e piacere quanto mai dir si possa.” This is the “semplice parola de Cristo nel Vangelo” whose truth is “lucidissima e chiara.”
In this book of Christ are contained all the virtues and all peace:
Per Cristo tu vedrai quella infallibile porta; per Cristo tu vederai la sapienza de Dio; per Cristo vederai la potenza de Dio; per Cristo la suprema giustizia de Dio . . . ; per Cristo tu vederai l’ardente carità, dolcezza e amore.
Just as Erasmus used the Pauline contrast of wisdom and folly as a backdrop for his desire to return to the sources of the Gospel and to shun “worldly wisdom,” so too does Ochino highlight the blindness of the learned and the sight of the believer. “Non conosciamo Dio per una dotta sapienza,” he writes, and he reminds his hearers that “[li] filosofi e dotti con la loro cieca prudenza e vani pensieri sono diventati stolti.”
In his first dialogue with Caterino Cibo (“del modo d’innamorarsi di Dio”), Ochino distinguishes two types of knowledge: a speculative knowledge (which remains “vain” and in which even Lucifer had a share) and a practical knowledge of God which leads to love:
La troppo littere e sottile speculazione impediscano da l’amor di Iddio. . . . Chi vuole salire adunque al perfetto amore di Iddio, debbe evitare tutte le vane, inutile e curiose dottrine, sí come Paolo ci essorta, a Tito, al. cap. terzo: e sforzarsi solo di saper quelle cose che ci accendono a l’amore divino nostro Iesu Cristo.
Knowledge without love and an intellect without faith, therefore, is useless and vain. Just as we saw in the early humanists a revolt against a knowledge which does not lead to the “heart,” Ochino taught that Jesus Christ, himself the wisdom above and beyond any individual “philosophy,” becomes the power and the goal for growing in real love and real truth. Meditating on his life and reading this “book” provide all the wisdom necessary to satisfy the yearnings of the human spirit.
One of the beauties of Ochino’s thought, however, is that even the desire to rest only in God must be “sparked” by grace and by meditation on God’s goodness, only these can carry us away from idle speculation. In an example which is as graphic as it is evocative for his readers, he responds to the “duchessa” who has asked him on what can she meditate to help her to love God:
. . . .Far come quello bambino che sugge il latte della madre, l’abbraccia e strigne, e tutto si occupa in gustare quel latte; non va pensando se è bianco o negro, se è caldo o freddo, ma tutto è intento in gustarlo; cosí l’anima debbe del tutto dimenticare se stessa, ma ancora di quelle cose che sono in Dio e non servano all’amore, e occuparsi tutta nell’amore o in pensare quelle cose che gli giovano in accendersi.
There was little else in Ochino’s writings which could “ignite” this love for God other than the passion and death of Jesus Christ. This was the great “benefice,” taught by Valdés and shared in the circle of the “spirituali”, from which the contemporaneous Italian work, Beneficio di Cristo, would take it’s title. As Cargnoni has pointed out, this theme is perhaps “le plus ardent et le plus éloquent de la spiritualité ochienne.” Christ had come to bring fire on the earth, wrote Ochino:
E non vuole se non che arda, sí come disse lui proprio. Arebbe senza patire potuto rimediare e redimere l’umana generazione; ma per mostrarci il suo grande amore, il quale in nessun modo si mostra meglio che in patire, però volse morire, acciò che dal suo amore fussimo constretti ad amarlo.
In an evocative metaphor which he uses within his fifth sermon at Lucca, Ochino emphasizes the centrality of the cross for the Christian:
Come gli uccelli del cielo non si riposano mai, se non nel nido, cosí noi cristiani in questo aere, in queste cose caduche e flussibile del mundo, momentanee e transitorie, non ci possiamo ripossare, né quietare, se non nel nido della croce, cioè nel costato di Cristo in fede viva e carità infiammata. . . .
It is the passion of the Lord in which the Christian need “clothe himself” and have always “fixed in his heart.” It is the passion of the Lord which is “il vostro specchio, la vostra vita, la felicità, il gaudio, la speranza, la gloria, l’amore e ogni vostro bene.”
As in the Dialogues when he asks the “duchess” to meditate on the love of God, there is little doubt that meditation on Christ and his loving action for us on the cross is the vision for true contemplation par excellence.
The best way to know ourselves and to understand the depth of our sin and the limits of our nature is to view the darkness of our condition in the light of Christ. Christ’s cross, therefore, is the “living mirror” that sheds light on the immense gift of love that the cross signifies:
. . . A volerti profondare nella cognizione de tuoi peccati non è il più perfetto modo, né la più perfetta via a conoscer noi stessi, se non contemplando con una pura fede e ardente carità nel vivo specchio di Cristo fitto in croce per amor tuo, dove in quello specchiandoti, sarai sforzato dalla luce sua conoscere le tue tenebre, dalla sua umilità la tua superbia, dalla sua innocenzia la tua malignità, dalla sua liberalità la tua avarizia, dalla sua mansuetudine la tua arroganza, dall’innumerabili benefici la tua ingratitudine, e finalmente tutte le virtù, tutte le bontà vedrai risplendere in quello inammorato Cristo . . .
The dynamism of this “living mirror” animates the believer to a “living faith” like the thief on the cross, and attracts sinners by a “living love:”
Or cosí fa l’innamorato Cristo, che non è contentato di redimere gli nostri peccati, ma (come dice Paolo, propter nimiam charitatem) ha voluto per tirare l’anime a sé per via d’un vivo amore fare ogni prova, ogni esperimento del divino amor suo, accioché noi vedendo tanto ardore e sí gran carità verso di noi usata, con maggiore empeto e con più gran fervore ci trasformiamo in lui; questo non per sé, ma solo per darci il cielo.
In contemplating that selfless love and in experiencing it’s “living” power and dynamism, the soul would then be animated to love nothing but him. In a powerful reflection on Mary Magdalene and of her loving relation to the Lord, Ochino sees Magdalene as a person who exemplifies this selfless love of Christ crucified who no longer cries “per contrizione, ma per dilezione. E vedendo quanto Cristo mi ama, io voglio amar solo lui e non voglio amar nessuna altra cosa.”
As in the Beneficio di Cristo, Ochino sees the Eucharist in the overarching perspective of the memorial of this passion and death. Cargnoni mentions that during the processions of the forty hours devotion, Ochino had insisted on the use of the Crucifix. In his Holy Saturday sermon in Venice, he delivers an impressive mystagogia on the institution of the sacrament of the Eucharist. As would be expected of the preacher, even this becomes an opportunity to reflect on the redemptive benefits of Christ’s cross:
. . . Abbiamo causa per questo sagramento di avere a memoria la Passione e morte del Figliuol de Dio sul legno della croce per lavare gli nostri peccati e torne fuora delle mani de Lucifero.
In another scripture passage, often related to the Eucharist, Ochino takes Luke’s account of the experience of the disciples as they journeyed toward Emmaus and reflects on the fact that the disciples had come to know him “in the breaking of the bread.” The preacher moves from the literal meaning of the passage to a more “spiritual” and “allegorical” understanding of the passage (the kind favored by Erasmus as more akin to the Fathers of the Church) which, once again, shows his centrality of the Cross and its benefits. He begins his discourse with the distinction of viewing things “superficially” as opposed to perceiving things in their deeper, spiritual sense:
Sono alcuni che consideranno gli benefici de Dio superficialmente; solamente quel beneficio, e non passano più là . . . E però ti bisogna rompere e masticar questa scorza e considerar non solo il benefico in sé, ma quanti tesori vi sono dentro.
“Chewing,” “breaking” and “ruminating” show themselves to be essential actions in seeing beyond the superficial and the obvious. For example, there are those who study Scripture only superficially, according to the “letter”:
Ma bisogna anco che tu rompi, che tu spezzi e che tu frangi quelle figure, quelli accidenti, quelle similitudini, e considerar che Cristo è stato quello il quale in lui è stato adempito ogni cosa, e che allora tutto era in ombre e similitudini; ma noi è stata dimostrata e aperta la verità.
And finally, his reflections on contemplating the cross:
Sono alcuni che contemplano Cristo su la croce, ma non veggono in lui se non quei crociati e tormenti, e le spine e gli chiodi e la lancia. Ma bisogna che tu rompi questo pane, che tu lo mastichi e che tu lo rumini e che tu lo macini bene alla similitudine di Maria, che conservabat omnia verba haec, conferens in corde suo . . . Se tu romperai questo pane, se tu lo frangerai, se lo masticherai bene, verrai a conoscere Cristo e Dio in quella frazione.
The continued contemplation of Christ crucified, then, must be done with the “living eye of the heart through faith” through which the believer recognizes “his most ardent love by becoming God and human for our love” and that he has ascended the “wood of the cross” to pay the debt of our sins and to “cancel” them and “purge” them through his blood shed for us. Only through faith is this “seeing” possible.
The preceding is verified in Ochino’s first Dialogue. After distinguishing the levels of knowledge, the preacher applauds the insight of the “duchess” regarding the benefits of Christ and his cross:
Duchessa: Sopra tutte l’altre cose credo che giovi avere una perfetta fede del divino amore e delli suoi benefici; che se credessimo in verità Dio amarci sempre con infinito, continuo, sincero e gratuito amore, e ogni cosa fare per nostro amore, e per noi aver datto in croce il suo proprio Figliuolo, e da lui pendere ogni nostro bene, sare[m]mo constretti ad amarlo. Ma il ce si pensa poco e manco si crede; basta che qualche volta il diciamo con la bocca.
P.F. Bernardino: La signoria vostra ha trovato dove sta tutto il male nostro. E penso che tanto si ami, quanto si creda. E perché poco si crede, poco si ama.
The root of all evil, then, is the lack of faith. One loves to the extent that one believes.
Elizabeth Gleason has indicated that a common assumption which consistently runs through the works of Italian reformers is that reform “must begin with the individual Christian:”
. . . [A] change of heart bringing about true repentance was a deeply personal matter; it did not result from institutional guidance, but from the working of grace in the soul.
This insight appears to be confirmed in what we have said about Ochino’s reflections on the cross and on the benefits of Christ. Reform of the individual begins through faith and the resultant love of God for all that God has done for us in Christ. In his Luccan sermons, even as he admonishes his listeners to turn their faith into action, the reasons for this action are clear. He admonishes those who place their faith in the works of religion (“imagini,” “chiese,” “capelle,” “superflui calici,” “ornamenti,”) and justify themselves through it. He goes on to challenge them:
. . . Iddio non accetta il tuo amore, i tuoi sacrifici: se tu lo amassi con maggiore e con più acceso amore che non amò Maria Madalena, e che con tutte le perfezioni brevemente della carità tu lo amassi, non amando il prossimo per amor suo e non lo soccorendo e aiutando ne’ suoi bisogni con cordiale affetto per amor di Cristo, non li è grato niente. Fa pur ciò che voui, perché cosí come non vuole che tu ami il prossimo senza lui, esso non vuole essere amato senza il prossimo. . .
As we have indicated, Mary Magdalene will again appear in Ochino’s final sermon in Venice; he reveals her as a woman who is both a symbol of repentance and as the one who loved the Lord above all others. In a stirring passage, Ochino’s oratorical style is at its best when he reveals the Mary Magdalene who is always “at the feet” of the Lord, always present to him and looking lovingly upon him. She becomes the profound example for every Christian “sinner” who has “faith” in the saving works of Christ. In fact, she represents the “church militant” as the “mirror and norm of every penitent:”
E però se ne va in casa del fariseo e quivi piange il suo peccato alli piedi di Cristo. E però sempre tu vedi Maddalena alli piedi di Cristo: alla predica, alli piedi di Cristo; in casa del fariseo, alli piedi di Cristo; in casa sua, alli piedi di Cristo; alla croce, alli piedi di Cristo; alla sepoltra, ai piedi di Cristo. E in ogni l[u]ogo finalmente dove si trova, sempre piange; . . . piange ora in cielo gli peccati delli miseri peccatori.
This appears to be the true penitence for one’s sins. It flows from a loving faith and presence to the crucified Lord. In fact, Mary Magdalene’s “penance” was really her active love and charity. This is the love that is Moses’ burning bush, Elijah’s fiery chariot and the tongues of fire on the Apostles at Pentecost that lead the soul to truly love God. True penitence is not a matter of actions, but it flows from a “burning” charity in response to Christ’s “benefits,” all that he is and does for the sinner.
In the first of the Venetian sermons, Ochino mocks those who treat the sacrament of confession mechanically without sensing sorrow for sin in the love of God. He castigates both the confessor who would mechanically consult the manual of confession and the “penitents” who would know how to appear humble and holy because they know how to recite their sins:
Ma tu tieni bene un libro che se tu il studierai e scartebelarai bene, leggendolo e rivoltandolo, quello te illuminarà, quello te insignerà, quello ti dirà quello che sia bene e male, che è la propria conscienza.
This is this “conscience” that actually reforms one’s life. It comes from the heart of the person to judge him and also imprints on it a knowledge of Christ’s love. He continues later in the sermon to discuss the merits of confession; it does not lie in the “duty” one has to confess or in the saying of mere words. In fact, he castigates Venice that after much preaching of the “living and true Christ,” “tu sei quel medesimo che tu eri.” Ochino reminds his hearers, again somewhat provocatively, that had he been preaching in Germany or England (two countries which in 1539 would have been as Samaria to the Jews!) or among the Turks or Jews, his preaching would have born more fruit! And so he exhorts his hearers:
. . . prego per Cristo cordialissimamente che in questi pochi giorni vogliate prepararvi a fare un poco d’aspera vita e penitenza, con un vivo amore e fermo proponimento di mai più voler offerdere Cristo; . . . [e] disponeteve e sforzativi alla emendazione.
This amendment of life, then, comes from a living faith that leads to an ardent love. In all of this is the recognition in Ochino of the need for grace. In fact, grace is the all-encompassing understanding of the great works in Christ. Ochino makes an important connection between “leaving the things of this world,” traditionally seen in the light of an ascetical life, and turning away from “vanity” which calls attention to one’s own works. The citation from Ecclesiastes 1:2 (“Vanitiy of vanities, all is vanity”) is used in the context of a person who relies solely on his or her own “works” of penitence:
Non te venirà superbia delle opere tue, perché conoscerai che se non fosse la grazia de Dio ne sostenta, per noi saressimo ogni male. E però dirai con David profeta: Omnes declinaverunt, simul inutiles facti sunt. Non ti presumerai delle proprie virtù, ma dirai con Isaia che tutte le operazion nostre sono tamquam pannis menstruarum, tutte imbrattate, lorde e sporche.
In this context, one can see influences of Ochino’s Franciscan spirituality in his recognition that all good comes from God alone and that only our sins our truly our “own.” At the same time, there is an undeniable affinity to the reformation thinking so prevalent at the time which saw, within the human person, only “darkness” and “sin”. All human “works” were presumptuous and did not acknowledge that all of Christ’s redemptive work is grace.
Bernardino, however, was more optimistic in his view of the human person than some of his contemporaries. Ochino uses rich and frequent references to the “infinite treasures,” the “goodness and liberality of God,”and the “infinite merits of Christ.” Imitating the pharisees only leads us to “dead works,” where we rely on our actions instead of those freely given through the person of Christ.
The Sixth Dialogue regarding the soul’s “pilgrimage to heaven” is in many ways an echo of the first dialogue on loving God. The “guardian angel” is advising the “pilgrim soul” about what rest awaits it in the end:
Ivi viverai felice senza cure, senza sollecitudine, senza ansietà, senza dolori, senza fastidi, senza timori e senza miserie della presente vita . . . Allora ti goderai le tue fatiche, anzi, quelle di Cristo.
In the most subtle of ways, and yet consistent with Ochino’s thought, the angel corrects herself and reminds the soul that it is not its own labors from which it is resting, but the labors of Christ which were at work all along for the soul.
It is perhaps here that we need to underline Ochino’s criticism of the “superstitious” and “presumptuous” Christians who rely on their own works. As in the humanist atmosphere of the schools, Ochino’s cynicism and mockery of many practices among the faithful is given vent as he contrasts all of their activity with the freely offered grace of Christ’s mercy.
In his Luccan sermons, he decries the “false Christians,” “quelli riconi, prelati e secolari,” who do not know the meaning of the Scripture passage that “It is love I desire and not sacrifice.” Later in Venice he rails against prelates who “think they are saving themselves” through “saying Mass” or staying in the Church to pray vespers while in reality despising the true word of God. At the same time, he chides seculars who have confidence in the fact that they’ve been baptized, “go to hear Mass,” pray the Office of Mary and think that they are good Christians instead of really loving God and their neighbor.
He mocks the Venetians who observed Good Friday in such a way that the Jews feared leaving their houses lest they be killed. “Questo non è buon modo di contemplar Cristo . . . Oh, Dio è morto solo per carità, e noi vogliamo fare tutto il contrario.” He encourages people to receive Eucharist, not because it is a duty, but out of love,and he holds up Mary Magdalene, a “secular,” to shame the pharisees who took pride in their “religious” practices.
In Venice in 1539, when he is answering the Protestant reformers who had said that we do not have to go to confession or that we do not have to obey the pope, Ochino’s language is not quite as vindictive as other Catholic preaching at the time. In discussing obedience to the pope, he reiterates that “dobbiamo ubidire, ma cose di peccato non, perché Cristo lo lasciò suo vicario in terra, e la militante Chiesa è retta dallo Spirito Santo.”
He follows the various counsels with a call to conformity to Christ crucified:
. . . A questi giorni bisogna che ci conformiamo a Cristo crocifisso che tanto fu liberale sul legno della croce a concederci e donarci e inricchirci delle sue grazie fino a darsi de stesso a noi.
In the end, Ochino raises rhetorical questions regarding the precepts of the Church in these holy days. What if the Christian law commands me something while my spirit wants to do something else? Ochino holds out an example of “living charity:” the leper who had returned to thank Jesus for having cured him. Jesus had ordered all of them to “go show yourselves to the priests.”
Uno di quelli, vedendo esser mondato, non ubidí a Cristo di andare al sacerdote, ma ritornò a Cristo, lui con una grandissima carità ringraziandolo di questo dono che gli avea concesso e prostrato in terra gli ne refereti grazie. Al qual Cristo disse: . . .Dieci si sono mondati e dove sono gli nove? Non est inventus qui rediret et daret gloriam Deo, nisi hic alienigena? Nota che non il riprese che non avea ubidito alla parola sua di andar dal sacerdote, ma il commendò, vedendo che l’aveva seguito lo spirito della carità. E però sempre che tu ti senti violentar allo spirito buono e di carità ardente, seguita pur lo spirito, perché quello è un libro che continuamente to consiglierà e ammaestrarà di sorte tale che non potrai errare. E se vorrai fare un’opera di pietà, andarai allo spirito tuo e alla tua conscienzia e quello te dittarà quanto tu doverai fare.
Obeying the spirit of charity is thus a higher command than just the words of Jesus themselves. Though an effective rhetorical device, almost parabolic in its intent to shock his hearers into recognition, the audience at Venice would have been well aware that he was castigating them for their lack of love (not their lack of obedience to the Church) in response to the healing that had already taken place in the saving cross of Christ Jesus.
Se andarai a questo spirito di carità, egli ti consigliarà che ti armi delle virtù e che lasci gli cattivi abbiti e male consuetudini; ti dittarà che tu riconosca tanti innumerabili benefici ricevuti da Dio. E però non potrà fare che tu non ti accendi, che tu non ti infiammi, che tu non ti trasformi tutto nel suo divino amore, al qual vi esorto essercitarvi.
While treating Ochino’s thought concerning the “benefits of Christ’s cross” and the uselessness of “empty works,” along with the emphasis he places on a “living faith,” a “living love,” and a “living truth,” we would be amiss not to enter into the dialogue of the twentieth century scholars who have dealt with the question of the principle of the justification by faith in the writings of Ochino during this period. It need be said immediately that the words never occur as such. While the word “faith” appears often, and frequently with the adjective “living” at its side, it is difficult to even find the word “justice” or “justification” mentioned even though it was known to be a major concern for the period, indeed for his friends and associates.
There is little doubt that, after 1542, justification by faith forms the centerpiece of Ochino’s thought. As Cargnoni recognizes, “[this doctrine] est le premier point traité dans le recueil de sermons publiés après l’apostasie.” But there is a lively debate in the literature about the doctrine’s presence in his pre-exilic writing.
In his work, Nuovi contributi su Bernardino Ochino, Rozzo has drawn the lines of current opinion on the topic. Bainton and Benrath would both uphold that the Dialogi Sette were within the orthodox Catholic tradition, influenced by Bonaventure and the Franciscan theological tradition. Nicolini and Feliciangeli, on the other hand, see in the dialogues and in the sermons “l’espressione, cauta e sfumata, ma evidente, della sua nuova fede.”
After his departure to Geneva, Ochino himself had claimed to have “masked and veiled” his message of Christ to make it more palatable to his hearers:
Però, contemporando le parole al suo lippo vedere, predicavo che per gratia et per Cristo siamo salvi, che lui ha satisfatto per noi et ch’el ci ha aquistato il paradiso. Vero è che non scoprivo esplicatamente l’impietà del regno d’Antecristo. Non dicevo: ‘adunque non ci sonno altri meriti, satisfationi, indulgentie, che quelle di Cristo, né altro purgatorio.
Cargnoni would believe that scholars such as Rozzo would like to advance the thesis that this nascent protestantism was present even from the earliest extent writings in 1536. He feels that:
La probabilità della dimostrazione però si svantaggia nell’ambivalenza di questi scritti che possono benissimo trovare una loro corretta giustificazione dottrinale, essendo testi che nascono da un’esperienza di predicazione popolare e da colloqui spirituali, ma probabilmente non sono mai stati direttamente rivisti dall’autore.
In point of fact, all we do possess would be “intuitions” or “suppositions.” Ochino was indeed not the “author” of the sermons, though we have seen how faithfully they appear to have been transcribed. We have also seen that the dialogue form may well have been precisely chosen so as to leave Ochino free to exercise his thought more liberally with his dialogue partner’s questions and comments.
Nicolini has written that in the seventh dialogue, e.g., while Ochino does not negate purgatory, the profession of faith which is put into the “mouth” of Caterino Cibo includes the following statement of faith:
. . . Confessando adesso per il ponto della morte e per sempre che io sono grande peccatrice, e che tutta la speranza ho posto in Dio, né penso salverme se non per mezzo di Cristo.
Called on to witness this testimony are “l’altissima Trinità, Cristo, la Madonna, tutti i santi e ogni creatura; imo ancora la propria conscienza.” In this, we would also recall Ochino’s own claim to “conscience” as a testimony in his flight.
Rozzo also calls into question the opening lines of the dialogue when the “man” invites the “woman” to be “religious.” When the woman protests that she does not think she would want to do this for various reasons, the man answers, “E quand’io vi mostrasse una religione secondo il vostro cuore?”
One might expect that Ochino, already a Capuchin in 1536, would point her to the way of perfection within a religious order, a “religion,” already established. When she asks the name of this religion, he replies, “divine”:
Uomo: Qui, non bisogna mutar luogo, ma costumi; mutar vita, non panni; tagliar di sé tutti gli tristi pensieri e desideri e non gli capelli; orare a Dio col cuore, non con la bocca; ubbidir a Dio, non agli uomini . . . . In questa religione non vi stanno novizi. Bisogna subito far professione e quello non è male, perché gli oblighi loro non sono con pericolo.
Further, within the profession itself, Rozzo highlights what Ochino does not say about the Church. The “man” of the seventh dialogue proscribes the following profession for the “woman:”
Confesso che sopra gli Apostoli mandò lo Spirito Santo. Credo nella sua dottrina e son certo [sic] per fede che non manca mai con la sua grazia. Confesso la vita delli santi con la Chiesa di Cristo esser immacolato e santa; e finalmente io creggio e confesso tutte le cose le quai sono obligato a credere . . . perché l’intelleto mio ha da credere solo la verità, a quella solo aderisco e quella credo . . . . Mi declaro e protesto tutti ch’io non voglio altro credere se non quello qual crede comanda la santa Chiesa di Cristo con ogni stabilità e certezza in me possibile . . . .
Rozzo’s argument relies on the fact that Ochino, while following the pattern of the Nicene Creed in most cases, does not include remission of sins, for example, nor an explicit statement about the “catholic” church. Instead, using the broader Valdesian and evangelical term, “the Church of Christ,” Rozzo indicates that already Ochino is making a conscious leap in his understanding of the mediatorial role of this Church in the work of justification.
As for other dialogues, particularly the first and third, and many of the sermons, one cannot help but agree that the principal of “justification by faith” is certainly present, albeit as said above, in other terms. The “profession” of the third dialogue makes consistent references to the “merits of Christ” and has the “woman” state that:
. . . Né al ponto della morte intendo altrimenti comparire inanti al trono de l’altissima Trinità se non insanguinata del sangue di Cristo ed arichita delli meriti soi, né voglio per altra via e modo intrare in paradiso.
In his first Luccan sermon, after chiding the Pharisees who wished to justify themselves, Bernardino concludes that “la perfezione de la vita non consiste solo nelle opere morte, ma nelle opere vive della viva fede.” In the Venetian sermons, reminiscent of Luther’s own attitude toward sin and grace, Ochino pictures the devil taunting the Christian, saying that he or she has committed “tanti e tanti peccati.” Ochino responds:
Confessa e di’ che sí . . . di’: ‘Io mi dispero al tutto delle mie operazioni, ma non già del mio Cristo, il quale ha pagato per me e ha fatto la penitenza per me in sul santissimo legno della croce.’
In his Luccan sermons, Ochino insists:
Non ti debbi disperare di non poter sodisfare e pagare tanti infiniti benefici ricevuti da Dio per i meriti di Cristo infiniti, i quali te li ha donati, accioché con quelli possi pagare gran debito. Ohimè! qual è quel debito e obbligo tanto grande che il merito della Incarnazione del Figliuol di Dio non paghi, lavi, mondi, purghi?
Perhaps, in the end, we are left with only idle speculations about Ochino and his leanings toward justification by faith in his sermons and dialogues. But, one could easily agree with Emidio Campi that:
Non basta certo a collocare il predicatore senese al di fuori della fede tradizionale, ma è senza dubbio l’espressione di un pensiero orientato verso le correnti della Riforma, certo non contro di essa.
Ochino may not have been a “Protestant” between 1536 and 1542, but was the Capuchin a partaker of and contributor to the currents of humanist and reform thought that were part and parcel of sixteenth century Italy? From what we have seen, it would appear that we may answer in the affirmative.
We began this study discussing the climate of Italian humanism in sixteenth century Italy, and we have ended it with a discussion of reformation thought in Ochino. In doing so we have encountered the “crevice” or “limbo” which could be said to exist in academic circles between the two topics. As Oberman reminded us in Chapter One, there is a tenuous connection between “impetus” and “movement,” and it is virtually impossible to discuss “causes” in something so complex as the historical development of ideas. “Humanism” and “reform thought” sometimes coincide and, at other times, take divergent paths.
But Bernardine Ochino forced us into the “crevice.” He personifies, in many ways, the educated, erudite Italian who was deeply involved in the religious questions of his day, indeed so involved as to seek out his answers in the religious life of the time. But ironically, the religious life in which he sought answers was in the midst of profound change, indeed not simply within his own Franciscan community, but in his Church, in his country and in his world.
Bernardine was an Observant Franciscan who found himself unsettled enough to join a nascent group of men who had wanted to recover their roots in the heroic ideals of Francis. Thus, he was deeply influenced by the spirit and the thought of the Franciscan tradition.
Bernardine Ochino, however, was also an Italian who lived in the sixteenth century. He was educated in Italy, and his friends and associates were often from the class of noble men and women who had nurtured and shared both ideas and ideals and sought a return to more simple (though, in retrospect, somewhat idealized) roots. As such he was also to absorb and to contribute to the social and cultural movements which were so much a part of his youth and his adult life.
When discussing the history of the Capuchins in the context of the counter-reformation, Elizabeth Gleason, an American, raises questions of culture and of context. I believe, because of its pertinence, that it deserves to be reproduced here:
The Capuchins began as an Italian order, and their origins and early history must be studied in the context of sixteenth-century Italian religious history. . . . Every movement of criticism and dissent and every heretic about whom anything is known has received serious scholarly attention from lay historians. But the history of Catholic orders remains a family affair, as it were, cultivated within the various institutes established by the orders and staffed by their members. Learned and thoughtful articles reach a limited readership . . . . It is as if a whole side of religious life barely existed — yet the new orders of the sixteenth century must be integrated into the history of the Church as well as of Italian culture and thought in its entirety . . . .
Why was the Franciscan ideal in all its austerity so attractive precisely at a time when Protestant ideas were spread throughout the peninsula? Were there possible connections between what we might call Franciscan fundamentalism and Protestant calls for purification of the Church and a return to Biblical theology? What were the connections between sixteenth century Italian evangelism and the thought of the first generation of Capuchins? Who were the first Capuchins — what was their social and educational background? Why did their preaching find such a resounding echo in Italian society?
In an intriguing way, Duncan Nimmo, in his study of Franciscan reform, “happens upon” this same “contextual” question, almost in passing, when explaining the success of the Observant and the Capuchin reforms. While noting the failure of superiors to recognize and encourage the movements of reform at their beginnings, Nimmo conjectures:
We must allow that their shortcoming is mitigated by the metaphysical and, to modern eyes, greatly exaggerated importance medieval thinkers generally attached to structural unity: it may be said that, for them, it was a principle on which the universe and the continuance of life in any form depended. Thus there was perhaps some significance in the fact that the first definitive division of the Order came in the year in which, traditionally, 95 theses nailed to a door in Wittenberg heralded the break-up of the medieval Church, and the second year when Sir Thomas More went to the block for upholding the unity of Christendom.
Here, Nimmo “puts his feet” into the “waters” of the question without, in our mind, fully “leaping” into them. What is, indeed, the “some significance” of his question? What is the connection, if any, between contextual thought and religious action? Can religious reform and renewal be seen outside the context of the social and cultural currents which shape minds? Is Franciscan thought in the thirteenth century, is Francis’ articulation of the “spirit” versus the “letter” in 1219, for example, the same question three hundred years later in the 1530’s in the world of the humanists? Did Scotism, Nominalism, Conciliarism, Nationalism and all the various “-isms” born and bred by society have no effect in changing its nuance? Much “Franciscan spirituality” appears today which leads this author to fear that some authors believe it is the same — as though the Franciscan Order had survived for three hundred years on its spiritual ideals alone, without those ideals having a historical context and heard by people whose culture and society shaped their hearing in a unique way!
Bernardine Ochino, his life, his thought and his personality, might provide an opening to begin to answer some of these questions. It is interesting that while some studies among the “religious” consistently attempt to show how Ochino was not typical of the other Capuchins, lay historians, generally (and perhaps redundantly) Protestant, have been consistent in their attempts to show that Ochino was typically “Italian.”
John Tedeschi, for example, in speaking of the immigrant Italian community gathered in their parish church in London, mentions that many of the members “still resented hearing attacks against the Catholic Church and the pope.” Writing about the other Italians who, like Ochino, had left their country to avoid condemnation, he notes:
The radical humanist professor of eloquence at Basel, C.S. Curione, and the reformed professor of Scripture at Zurich, Vermigli, shared a common distaste for narrow, exclusive definitions of orthodoxy; and the Marchese d’Oria, who abhorred Bernardine Ochino for his anti-trinitarian and spiritualizing tendencies, stood shoulder to shoulder with him in opposing coercion in spiritual matters.
Massimo Firpo, has noted the “piena integratione di Erasmo nel patrimonio ideologico del movimento riformatore [italiano].” He notes the “complesso eclettismo dottrinale” of the Italian reform movement as being unique: incompatible with either the orthodoxy of Rome or that of Wittenberg and Geneva. He notes, then, the “restrictive dogmatism” of the transalpine reformers as being in direct contrast to the “dogmatic indifferentism and religious subjectivity of the Italian innovators.”
Perhaps the enduring heritage of humanism in Italy and its tenuous link to reform is found precisely in what we have seen above as the movement to the individual and the promotion of moral values on a uniquely personal level.
It may be important to consider to what extent Italian humanism contributed to such a “turn to the individual” and the ambiance which favored individual persons and movements over “structural unity.” Certainly, as we have seen, the rising tide of nationalism and separatism throughout Europe owes its framework to this process of change in the history of ideas. It is hard to imagine that Franciscan ideals were immune.
There is some evidence that Ochino remained an “Italian,” even if he did not remain a “Catholic.” His personal convictions could not continue to be expressed since the Inquisition had effectively caused many Italians to choose submission or flight. Yet, one is tempted to question whether he would have ultimately remained in Italy, even among the “Antichrist papists,” like many of his fellow “spirituali,” were his doctrinal commitment to the evangelical tenets of justification by faith not to render it impossible.
Telling is the fact that Ochino was to experience continued rejection as his own beliefs became “unorthodox” even to the reformers themselves. He was to have short stays in Geneva, Basel, and Strasbourg. While he seems never to have “lived more happily” than during his stay in England because of its “ecumenical atmosphere,” his life was one of continued wandering after the Mary Tudor return to Catholicism. It was his opposition to the burning of Michael Servetus, the Spanish anti-Trinitarian, which provoked Calvin’s resentment, his work on the real presence in the Eucharist which was to anger the Lutherans, and his work on free will, Labirinti, which was to be taken to task by all sides. In the latter, he laid out four reasons supporting the freedom of the will and four reasons to support predestination. As Belladonna writes,
Like Erasmus in his controversy on the subject some years earlier, Ochino was bound to displease all parties with his unwillingness to produce an incontrovertible affirmation. His anti-dogmatism could easily be mistaken for indifference to an important theological issue.
Again, interesting is the case of Isabella Bresegna, the humanist who had been so involved with Bernardine in the Valdesian circle in the early part of the century. Ochino would dedicate his tract on the Eucharist to her in 1561. Bresegna found herself in continued difficulties even after her own flight from the Inquisition to exile in Germany. When commenting on her plight, Bainton notes that she was “subject to the same fate which dogged the [other] Italians in exile”:
They did not fit. They were acquainted with, and uninterested in, the encrustation of Protestantism beyond the Alps. What to them were differences between the Lutherans, Zwinglians, and the Calvinists? Their main concern was to resist the tyranny of the Antichrist at Rome . . . . [She] would have agreed with Ochino that exile is far from resolving the problem of religious liberty because the ‘wings of Babylon are everywhere.’
To the end of his life, the inability of the reformers to live in harmony was a cause of intense concern for Ochino. One would expect the fiery preacher who had taken his stand against the “antichrist in Rome” to insist on his own doctrinal agenda. Yet, in 1562, he wrote:
Siamo d’accordo che la dottrina papistica è pestifera. Ma se vuoi veder quelli che sono in verità evangelici, bisogna che veda le chiese cristiane riformate, che sono in Germania, in Elvezia, in Francia, e negli altri luoghi; il che facendo troverai che una chiesa è zwingliana, l’altra luterana, e che alcuni sono annabattisti, gli altri libertini: e così di diverse sette: e fra di loro sono molto diversi e contrari: donde ne seguitano mormorazioni, discordie, detrazioni, infamie, calunnie, odi, persecuzioni, e innumerabili mali, avendo ciascuna chiesa eretica l’altra; talchè è sforzato a dire: Costoro non hanno in verità l’Evangelio, o l’Evangelio è una dottrina diabolica: imperocchè siccome scrisse Paolo, Dio non Dio di dissensione, ma di pace . . . così le disunioni mostrano che sieno anticristiani e diabolici cristiani.
Forced to leave Poland where he had sought emigration among a group of Italian Anabaptists, he succumbed to the plague in Moravia, as did his stepson; he died in 1564. Peculiarly, he was a “man of peace,” always at war. Perhaps in this he might be said to symbolize reality for a generation of Italians who had dreams of a different world, a different church, and a different concept of authority at a time when that authority had to take steps to secure its position.
Ochino had articulated the Gospel for a generation whose “turn to the individual” and talk of “individual reform” had taken root from so many seeds of thought, from the Devotio Moderna to Humanism. Among those who responded were men who became a part of the Capuchin reform, most of whom would remain and champion the reforms of the Council of Trent.
Yet, within the context of what is often conceived as the first Capuchin “failure,” Bernardino’s “apostasy,” we may well learn more of the reasons for the Capuchin success. We have seen that Bernardine had absorbed the cultural and religious currents of his day. Only the world of Italian humanism and reform thought could produce a “Bernardine Ochino,” and it is difficult to believe that the Capuchins themselves, as Cuthbert had indicated in our Introduction, could have emerged successfully in any other context.
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- Philip Sheldrake, Spirituality and History: Questions of Interpretation and Method (New York: Crossroad, 1991), p. 65. ↑
- Cuthbert of Brighton, The Capuchins: A Contribution to the History of the Counter-reformation (London: Sheed and Ward, 1928), vol. II, pp. 429-430. ↑
- This task was made easier by the labors of Costanzo Cargnoni who gathered all of the pre-exilic work of Ochino together for the first time only recently in his series I Frati Cappuccini: Documenti e testimonianze del Primo secolo, 5 Vols. [Index, Vol. 5], ed. Costanzo Cargnoni (Perugia: Edizioni Frate Indovino, 1988.) In the text, it will be cited as FC. ↑
- From Ochino’s Venetian sermons in FC III, p. 2258-2259. ↑
- See Giovanni Reale and Dario Antiseri, Il pensiero occidentale dalle origini ad oggi: II, Dall’Umanesimo a Kant (Brescia: Editrice La Scuola, 1985), p. 5. ↑
- Paul Kristeller, “Humanism,” The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy, ed. Charles I. Schmitt and Quentin Skinner (Cambridge University Press, 1988), p. 113. ↑
- Otto Allan Bird, “Humanities,” Encyclopedia Britannica, Macropaedia, VIII (London: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 15th edition, 1978), p. 1180. For a discussion of the term “Humanism,” which is of somewhat more recent vintage, see the discussion in Reale, p. 4-5 and in Kristeller, “Humanism,” pp. 113-114. On the origins of its first coinage, Reale apppears to disagree with Bird, while recognizing the roots of the term in the work of Cicero: “Pare sia stato usato per la prima volta da F.I. Neithammer per indicare l’area cultura ricoperta dagli studi classici e lo spirito che le è proprio in contrapposizione all’area culturale ricoperta dalle discipline scientifiche. Però il termine ‘humanista’ (e i derivati nei vari vernacoli) è nato verso la metà del Quattrocento ed è stato ricalcato sui termini legista, giurista, canonista, artista, per indicare gli insegnanti e i cultori di grammatica, retorica, poesia, storia e filosofia morale. Inoltre, già nel Trecento si parla di ‘studia humanitatis’ e di ‘studia humaniora’ con riferimento a famose affermazioni di Cicerone e di Gellio, per indicare queste discipline.” Reale, p. 4. ↑
- Bird, p. 1180. ↑
- Giovanni Maria Bertin, “La pedagogia umanistica europea nei secoli XV e XVI,” Grande antologia filosofica: Il pensiero della Rinascenza e della Riforma, XI (Milan: Marzorati, 1964), p. 178. ↑
- Bertin, p. 176. ↑
- Angeleri Grande antologia filosofica: Il pensiero dell Rinascenza e della Riforma, VI, ed. Michele R. Sciacca (Milano: Marzorati, 1964), p. 110. ↑
- Walter Jackson Ong, SJ, “Humanism,” New Catholic Encyclopedia VII (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967), p. p. 216. ↑
- Bertin, p. 180. ↑
- Here, McGrath mentions the studies on Pico della Mirandola, Lorenzo Valla and of Erasmus. See Alister E. McGrath, The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation (Oxford: Blackwell, 1987), p. 37, nn. 21-23. ↑
- “In the past the movement has too often been labelled ‘the introduction of Aristotle.’ The whole of Aristotle did indeed arrive . . . but the manner of its arrival, and the vehicles by which it was conveyed, had a great share in determining the quality and the extent of its influence.” David Knowles, The Evolution of Medieval Thought (New York: Random House, 1962), p. 205. ↑
- Kristeller, “Humanism,” p. 122. ↑
- Kristeller, “Humanism,” p. 122. “Rhetoric, which was the second of the humanities and in many ways the core of them all, consisted primarily in the theory and the practice of prose compostion, but also in the theory of plausible or probable arguments and in the theory of persuasion.” ↑
- Kristeller, “Humanism,” p. 123. ↑
- Reale, p. 25. ↑
- Petrarch in Reale, pp. 26,28. At times, it would seem, the appropriation of Cicero’s ideal of the Roman citizen had its limits for Petrarch. Nauert writes: “When Petrarch realized that [Cicero] was eager to abandon his philosophical studies and go rushing into the political struggle for the late Republic, he was shocked that so wise a man should have been so eager for political power. Petrarch’s attitude suggests that despite a liftetime of loving study of ancient Rome, he had never grasped the Roman ideal of civic obligation.” Charles G. Nauert, Jr., The Age of Renaissance and Reformation (New York: University Press of America, 1981), p. 95. ↑
- Nauert, p. 79. ↑
- Nauert, p. 80. ↑
- Nauert, p. 102. ↑
- Reale, p. 30. ↑
- See Nauert, p. 89. ↑
- See the discussion in McGrath, Intellectual Origins, pp. 32-33 and Steven Ozment, “Humanism, Scholasticism and the Intellectual Origins of the Reformation,” Continuity and Discontinuity in Church History (Studies in the History of Christian Thought, 19), ed. F. Forrester Church and Timothy George (Leiden: Brill, 1979), p. 136. Both of these authors seem indebted to Donald Weistein, “In Whose Image and Likeness? Interpretations of Renaissance Humanism,” Journal of the History of Ideas 33 (1972), pp. 165-76. ↑
- Ozment, “Humanism,” 136. See also the discussion of Angeleri, pp. 163-172. ↑
- See the discussion in Angeleri, pp. 219-221. This view comes under fire by many when viewed in the light of such humanist activity as, e.g., Calvin’s use of Cicero in his argument to the existence of one God [See McGrath, Intellectual Origins, p. 56] or the Spanish philosopher Juan Luis Vives’ Fabula de homine in which he pictures humanity’s entry to the table of the Olymipan gods after a banquet arranged by Jupiter [See Bengt Hägglund, “Renaissance and Reformation,” in Pursuit of Holiness in Late Medieval and Renaissance Religion (Studies in Medieval and Reformation Thought, X) Papers from the University of Michigan Conference, ed. Charles Trinkaus and Heiko A. Oberman (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1974), p. 152]. ↑
- In Angeleri, p. 219. ↑
- Hans Baron, “La rinascita dell’etica statale romana nell’Umanesimo fiorentino del Quattrocento,” Civiltà moderna (genn-feb, 1935), p. 29. Some feel that Baron’s accent ignores the fact that there is “more rhetoric than active defense of republican ideals among Italian humanists.” See Ozment, “Humanism,” p. 137, n. 9. ↑
- See Kristeller, “Humanism,” pp. 133ff. Also the discussion in Angeleri, pp. 234-236. ↑
- McGrath, Intellectual Origins, p. 36. ↑
- Paul Oskar Kristeller, “The Role of Religion in Renaissance Humanism and Platonism,” in The Pursuit of Holiness, p. 370. ↑
- Kristeller, “The Role of Religion,” in Pursuit of Holiness, p. 370. ↑
- See the discussion in Kristeller, “Humanism,” pp. 114-117. ↑
- Heiko A. Oberman, The Dawn of the Reformation: Essays in Late Medieval and Early Reformation Thought (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1986), p. 52. Here, Oberman is speaking of the tendency to speak of the “causes of the Reformation.” We feel the term is aptly used for other historical “movements” as the one in this study. “I regard it as a distinct advantage to speak not of ‘causes’ of the Reformation with the loaded connotation of a deterministic philosophy of history, but to employ instead the more poetic, or if one prefers, the literally more fluid imagery of gathering tributaries to connote the continigency and complexity of the historical connection between impetus and movement.” Charles Trinkaus has used the metaphor of various “strands from which a seamless garment is woven.” Trinkaus, “The Religious Thought of the Italian Humanists, and the Reformers: Anticipation or Autonomy?” in Pursuit of Holiness, p. 340. ↑
- The term “harvest of nominalism is a chapter title in Knowles’s Evolution, pp. 327-336. ”While it is rash to see in this one or the other a germ of Nominalism, everything goes to show that many of the tendencies that are patent in Ockham and his followers were present in a latent solution in the writings of Duns Scotus onwards.” Knowles, Evolution, p. 315. ↑
- See Ozment, “Humanism,” where he confesses that “Scholasticism” may be as difficult to define and contain as “Humanism” (p. 137). ↑
- ”This I say: that no universal is existent in any way whatesoever outside the mind of the knower.” Ockham quoted in Knowles, Evolution, p. 322. The above is a personal synthesis of Nominalist thought. For a more erudite summary, see Knowles, pp. 321-326. ↑
- See also Knowles, Evolution, p. 324: “[The] methodical use of the absolute power of God is a corrolary of the emphasis on the absolute freedom of God first emphasized in a tendential manner by Scotus. Ockham followed Duns here, stressing the primacy of the will and the concept of freedom in both God and man.” ↑
- See Oberman, “The Shape of Late Medieval Thought: The Birthpangs of the Modern Era,” in Pursuit of Holiness, p. 13. ↑
- In fact, as Chadwick has well indicated, “The rope of Nominalism was throttling the windpipe through which the philosophers had breathed.” Owen Chadwick, The Reformation (New York: Penguin Books, 1972), p. 35. ↑
- See the discussion in Reale, p. 91, where he discusses the role of Cardinal Cajetan (Tommaso de Vio, 1468-1534), the famous theologian in the debates against Luther, in this development. He was the first, writes Reale, to introduce Aquinas’ Summa Theologica as a base of doing theology, replacing the traditional Sentences of Lombard. “[The Summa] divenne il punto di riferimento sia per i Domenicani, sia per i Gesuiti.” ↑
- See the discussion of the “Franciscan Hegemony” and the “Augustinian Renaissance” in Oberman, The Dawn of the Reformation, pp. 5-12. “This anti-speculative, affective thrust seems to me to explain the Franciscan hegemony in the fourteenth century as well as during a large part of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.” (p. 8). Later, Oberman discusses the role of this Franciscan formation in the schools and its effects on their reception by the people: The success of the Franciscans and their establishing themselves as the “pastors to the plebeian city population,” was due, he writes, to their “non-violent revolutionary eschatology, their tendency toward anti-intellectualism and the psychological rather than the metaphysical basis of their theology in pulpit and confessional.” (p. 22) ↑
- Oberman, Dawn of the Reformation, p. 6-7. ↑
- Petrarch from Petrarch’s Secret, trans. William Draper, pp. 29-30, quoted in William Bouwsma, “The Spirituality of Renaissance Humanism,” Christian Spirituality: High Middle Ages and Reformation, ed. Jill Rait (NY: Crossroads, 1989), p. 238. ↑
- Petrarch in Bouwman, “Spirituality,” p. 242. ↑
- Lorenzo Valla in Reale, p. 36. ↑
- John Dillenberger and Claude Welch, Protestant Christianity Interpreted through the Centuries (New York: Macmillan Publishing, Second Edition, 1988), p. 6. In their introduction, Dillenberger and Welch write that “While we divided the work of writing the initial drafts, the final text has been formulated by both of us, and for the whole we assume joint responsibility,” p. vii. For purposes of brevity, we cite only the name of Dillenberger, conscious that the two are jointly intended. ↑
- Petrarch, De otio religioso in Charles Trinkaus, “Religious Thought,”in Pursuit of Holiness, p. 350-351, 352. ↑
- See Trinkaus, “Religious Thought,”in Pursuit of Holiness, p. 346. ↑
- Kristeller, “Humanism,” p. 136. ↑
- Melancthon’s later address in his Corpus Reformatorum is telling in this regard: “I call that man a philosopher who, when he has learned many things that are good and useful to the human race, takes his learning (doctrinam) out of the shadow of the school and applies it for the public welfare, teaching people what her knows, whether it be about nature, religion, or civil government. Of what use to the world are those monstrous verbal pictures and obscure orations (of the scholastic theologians)? Are they intended to teach men? Do they clarify either civic or religious responsibilities? Are they guides in making decisions?” In Ozment, “Humanism,” p. 145. ↑
- ”It is hard to say how far the shift of interest from metaphysics and the search for abstract and general principles to the knowledge of the individual and direct intuition of reality can be linked with the new interest in human personality, and the characters and destinies of men, that become evident in theology (e.g., the salvation of pagans and unbaptized children) and in literature (e.g., Petrarch and Langland) at almost the same moment.” Knowles, Evolution, p. 340. ↑
- See Hans Baron, “Secularization of Wisdom and Political Humanism in the Renaissance,” Journal of the History of Ideas XXI (1960), pp. 140-141. ↑
- Bouwsma, “Renaissance and Reformation,” in Pursuit of Holiness, p. 129. ↑
- See the discussion in Ozment, “Mysticism, Nominalism and Dissent,” in Pursuit of Holiness, pp.82-87 and Frank, p. 143. Ozment has poignantly questioned, “How will we keep men down in the church after they have been in the mind of God.?” (Pursuit of Holiness, p. 84). ↑
- Dom François Vandenbroucke in The Spirituality of the Middle Ages: A History of Christian Spirituality II, trans. The Benedictines of Holme Eden Abbey, Carlisle (New York: Desclée Co., 1961), p. 506-7. ↑
- The humanist priest and cardinal Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464) was one of the position’s staunchest enemies before becoming a “determined partisan.” See Vandenbroucke, p. 444. ↑
- Dillenberger, p. 6. ↑
- See Lawrence Landini, “Appendix II: The Historical Context of the Franciscan Movement,” in Lázaro Iriarte, A History of the Franciscan Order, trans. Partricia Ross (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1983), pp. 559-564. ↑
- David Knowles, From Pachomius to Ignatius: A study in the constitutional history of the religious orders (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), p. 27. ↑
- Gregory XI’s Quo Elongati reads, in part: ”Now We believe that in the Testament the confessor of Christ demonstrated a single‑hearted purpose and that you aspire to conform to his reasonable longings, his holy desires. Nevertheless, We are aware of the danger to your souls and of the difficulties you could incur because of your aims and so We will remove the anxiety from your hearts. We declare that you are not bound by the Testament. For without the consent of the brothers, and especially of the ministers, Francis could not make obligatory a matter that touches everyone. Nor could he oblige his successor in any way whatsoever because an equal does not exercise authority over equals.” Unpublished translation, Regis Armstrong, OFM Cap. See Gaines Post, “A Romano‑Canonical Maxim, ‘Quod omnes tangit’, Traditio 4 (1946), pp. 197‑251, esp. pp. 197‑209 and 249‑51. ↑
- Here, we would simply recall the reader to the role played by William of Ockham in the interpretations of papal infallibity and the consequent desire to contradict the interpretation of Franciscan poverty given by John XXII. In truth, the need to “question” papal authority (and in fact needing a “higher authority” to question it) is in no small way responsible for the growth of conciliarist theory. New appeals would be made in the 16th century for a universal Council which might bring about the reform which the popes of the early part of the century were, to say the least, reluctant to convoke. See Dillenberger, pp. 9-10. ↑
- The sad case of the political intrigues of Julian II had provoked Erasmus to author his Julius Excluded from Heaven (see Chadwick, p. 17). In the sixteenth century, the growing nationalistic sentiments in France, Spain and England would weaken the sense of Imperial and Ecclesiastical authority as the Emperor fought Hapsburg interests in Spain, opposed the power of the French, and would result in France’s support of Protestant efforts to limit Imperial power in the Schmalkaldic Wars (see Chadwick, p. 63). ↑
- We would cite here the story related by John Moorman as an example of Valla’s determination in this regard: “Lorenzo Valla . . . on entering a church in Naples in 1444, heard a Franciscan friar, Anthony of Bitonto, teaching some children about the Apostles’ Creed, and telling them that this had been written by the twelve apostles, each of whom had contributed one clause. Valla was shocked to hear such obscurantist teaching, and challenged the friar to a public debate. The King of Naples forbad this, but the Inquisition took the matter up, and accused Lorenzo of heresy.” John Moorman, A History of the Franciscan Order: From its Origins to the Year 1517 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), p. 512. See also n. 1 on the same page. ↑
- Lorenzo Valla cited in Reale, p. 36. ↑
- Ong, “Humanism,” p. 219, col. 1. He also writes “[Close textual study thus sowed] the seeds not only of modern “scientific” theory history — political, intellectual, religious and other — but also of modern linguistics, cultural anthropology, sociology, political science, comparative religion, and many other areas of study.” ↑
- Bouwsma, “Spirituality,” p. 239. ↑
- Bouwsma, “Renaissance and Reformation,” p. 138. ↑
- “In Praise of Folly,” in John P. Dolan, ed., The Essential Erasmus (New York: Signet, 1964), p. 158. ↑
- Owen Chadwick, The Reformation, p. 32. ↑
- The importance of the invention of the printing press is indisputable. “Raramente un’invenzione ha avuto un’influenza più decisiva di quella della stampa sulla Riforma.” L. Eisenstein in Caponetto, p. 29. John Foxe, in 1563 was to write: “Il Signore ha cominciato a lavorare per la sua chiesa non con la spada e lo scudo per sottomettere il suo grande avversario, ma con la stampa.” in ibid. ↑
- See Steven Ozment’s analysis of the use of this popular form in his article “The Revolution of the Pamphletters,” in Forma e destinazione del messaggio religioso: Aspetti della propaganda religiosa nel Cinquecento (Studi e testi per la storia religiosa del Cinquecento, 2), ed. Antonio Rotondò (Firenze: Leo S. Olschki, 1991), pp. 1-18. Philip McNair comments: “Much of its work [Erasmianism] was destructive, and the chosen instrument of destruction in its hands was satire — indeed, Erasmianism might be described as reformation by ridicule.” In Philip McNair, Peter Martyr in Italy: An Anatomy of Apostasy (Ocford: Clarendon, 1967), p. 4. This may be an extreme view which overlooks the positive force of Erasmus’ influence in a Biblical and patristic return to the sources. See the discussion on Erasmus below. ↑
- See the impressive survey of the question in Angelieri, “Interpreti dell’Umanesimo e del Rinascimento,” Grande antologia filosofica: Il pensiero dell Rinascenza e della Riforma, VI (Milan: Marzorati, 1964), pp. 91-270, particularly “La problematica più attuale,” pp. 231ff. Also, the collection by Charles Trinkaus and Heiko Oberman, ed., Pursuit of Holiness, mentioned above, n. 29. ↑
- See the discussion of Luther’s indebtedness to these humanist currents in Oberman, The Dawn of the Reformation, pp. 65-80, where Oberman develops his understanding that “Luther is an Augustinian carried on the waves of the rising tide of Humanism in Germany.” (p. 52) ↑
- Zwingli is said to have “stumbled” upon the Reformation through his patriotic love for Switzerland against both French domination and Imperial (largely Spanish) attempts to enlist Swiss mercenaries to fight its wars. “The humanistic concept of a total return to the faith and practice of the apostolic Church pushed him toward a far more radical repudiation of unscriptural practices than Luther wanted.” Nauert, p. 160. Zwingli continues to be a crucial figure in the rather tenuous blending of a humanist clergyman bent on peace coupled with a Swiss reformer ready for combat. See Reale, p. 80-81. ↑
- McGrath, Intellectual Origins, p. 32. ↑
- ”By despising Greek, the inestimable benefit of philosophy for humanistic studies was lost. With this disappeared the participation in religion. This development brought decay for Christian morals and the customs of the Church as well as for literary studies. Alleviation easily might have been possible, if only one thing had not perished . . . . With the help of good erudition one could have done away with the corruption in the Church, raised up the fallen spirit of man, strengthened this spirit and called it back to order.” Philip Melanchthon, De corrigendis adulescentiae studiis in The Reformation: A Narrative History, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1978), p. 59. ↑
- Nauert, p. 120. ↑
- Nauert, p. 121. ↑
- While Erasmus was noted to have centered on this concept, the coinage and understanding of it was within the long line of humanist literature. See Bouwsma, “Renaissance and Reformaton,” p. 143. ↑
- Letter to Paul Volz (August 14, 1518) translated in John C. Olin, Christian Humanism and the Reformation (New York: Macmillan, 1965), p. 99. ↑
- Desiderius Erasmus, “The Handbook of the Militant Christian,” (Enchiridion Militis Christiani – 1503) trans. in Dolan, p. 63-64 (henceforth cited as Enchiridion). In the last decades, there has been a reevaluation of history’s verdict of seeing Erasmus as the “precursor of modern irreligion.” Vandenbroucke’s comment here is well-taken: “He should rather be seen as carrying on the tradition of patristic thought, while earnestly desiring the reform of the Church.” Vandenbroucke, p. 513. ↑
- Dolan, p. 14. ↑
- Erasmus, Enchiridion, in Dolan, p. 64. ↑
- Erasmus, Enchiridion, in Dolan p. 65. ↑
- Erasmus in Hillerbrand, p. 426. ↑
- ”I am neither Luther’s accusor, nor advocate, nor judge; his heart I will not presume to judge — for that is always a matter of extreme difficulty — still less would I condemn.” In Hillerbrand, p. 424. ↑
- In Hillerbrand, p. 424. ↑
- Ozment, “Humanism, Scholasticism,” p. 140. ↑
- Desiderius Erasmus, “A Diatribe or Sermon Concerning Free Will,” Discourse on Free Will, trans., Ernst F. Winter (New York, Frederick Unger, 1961), p. 11, 12. ↑
- Martin Luther, On the Bondage of the Will, trans. Henry Cole (1893), p. 12, 13. ↑
- McNair, Peter Martyr, p. 4. ↑
- As Bouwsma indicates, “The ambivalence of Erasmus reminds us again that the Renaissance posed religious problems that it could not solve.” Bouwsma, “Renaissance and Reformation,” p. 144. See also Dolan’s summary observations: “It is quite evident that [Erasmus] insists too exclusively on the necessity of peace at all costs; that he is somewhat naive in his estimate of the power of persuasion; and that he seems entirely unaware of the credo ut intelligam aspect either of theology or doctrine. But in view of the violent and abusive character of contemporary polemics, both Catholic and Protestant, one must admit that Erasmus was one of the few men of his time to guard the purity of the Christian ideal of charity.” Dolan, p. 13. ↑
- See Reale, p. 73. ↑
- Petrarch cited in Bouwsma, “Spirituality,” p. 237. ↑
- His father is said to have been a barber, but not much more is known of his childhood. For biographical data, see Rita Belladonna’s Introduction in Bernardine Ochino, Seven Dialogues, ed. and trans. with introduction by Rita Belladonna (Center for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, University of Toronto, Translation Series, 3) (Toronto: Dovehouse Editions, 1988), p. vii and Costanzo Cargnoni, “Ochino”, Dictionnaire de spiritualité, XI, ed. M. Viller, SJ (Paris: Gabriel Beauchesne et ses Fils, 1982), col. 575. ↑
- Belladonna, ed., Seven Dialogues, p. viii. ↑
- Cuthbert, Capuchins, I, pp. 63-65. ↑
- Ochino, Reposio ad Mutium (1543) in Roland Bainton, Bernardino Ochino: Esule e riformatore senese del cinquecento, 1487-1563, trans. Elio Gianturco (Firenze: G.C. Sansoni, 1940), p. 3. ↑
- Ochino, Reposio ad Mutium (1543) in Bainton, Ochino, p. 3. Bainton goes on to contrast this reflection in hindsight to “save himself” with the earlier thoughts of Ochino in his Dialogue with Caterina Cibo in which he defines a “true love” of God: “Il vero amore di Dio fa che la persona non si cura nè di piaceri nè di dispiaceri, nè di lode, nè di vituperio, nè di alcun suo bene o male, ma solo della gloria di Dio” (from the “Dialogo del modo d’innamorarsi di Dio,” Bainton, Ochino, p. 7). ↑
- Only a few examples can be mentioned here. Cargnoni recalls the reflection of the chronicler Mattia Bellintani da Salò who implies that Ochino studied medicine “pour pouvoir ainsi soutenir sa vie, une fois excommunié.” (Cargnoni, “Ochino,” p. 575, col. 1). Cuthbert’s mentions the insinuations that Ochino might have joined the Capuchins because of his inability to be elected in the chapter which deposed Paul Pisotti (I, p. 80) and, later among the Capuchins, when he sought help from Victoria Colonna to call elections to oust Louis of Fossmbrone, whose heavy-handed administration was “not in accord with the genuine Franciscan tradition (I, p. 90).” Cuthbert writes: “Some there were who said afterwards that Bernardine Ochino was moved to this step not altogether from pure devotion to principle, but from an ambition to take Ludovico’s place. But,” he adds wisely, “this is pure conjecture.” (I, p. 91-92). Bainton’s question seems appropriate here: “Ma può questo esser stato il movente d’un uomo che faceva domanda d’entrar nell’Ordine proprio nel momento in cui l’Ordine sembrava in procinto d’esser distrutto?” (In Ochino, p. 21). Cargnoni, when he introduces the letter of Bernardine Ochino to Vittoria Colonna (in which the former attempts to defend his move), only quotes an author from the early part of this century, Misciatelli, regarding the “segreto orgoglio mistico”: “Gli eretici della tempra di questo frate senese potrebbero dirsi dei santi falliti per mancanza d’umiltà interna; uscirono tutti dalla Chiesa per ebrezza di passione mistica, per superbia di santità.” Costanzo Cargnoni, ed., I Frati Cappuccini: Documenti e testi del primo secolo (Perugia: Edizioni Frate Indovino, 1988-1993) [hereafter, FC] III, p. 259. ↑
- Gianpietro Carafa, “Memorial to Pope Clement VII (1532),” Reform Thought in Sixteenth Century Italy, (American Academy of Religion, Texts and Translation Series, 4) ed. and trans. Elizabeth G. Gleason (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1981), p.74-75. Sadly, he relates: “The discord which arises from the diversity of their lives and behavior [of the good and the bad]is so great that it causes enmity and parracidal hatred in the bad ones. These murders happen, not only by poison, but openly by the use of knives and swords, not to mention guns, as has been the case in several monastic orders in these evil days.” p. 74. ↑
- Cuthbert, I, p. 82. ↑
- Cuthbert of Brighton is perhaps too kind, yet honest in his interpretation of Clement: ”It is evident from the contradictory nature of the briefs issued by Clement VII [from 1530-1533] that the Pope, urged on the one side by partisans of Pisotti and on the other side by the friends of the Capuchins, was a prey to that indecision which marred the work of his pontificate and was the despair of his wisest consellors” (Cuthbert, I, p. 66). Cargnoni reminds us that, although this “eterno litigio” was growing tedious even for Clement, “il papa non conosceva tutte le lettere dettate, nel suo nome, dalla segreteria dei brevi”(FC, I, p.27,28). Interesting also is Cardinal Carafa’s plea, in 1532, for the pope to gain control of the situation, “By the love of God, [we] beseech his Holiness to curb his officials from issuing such an abundance of apostolic briefs for every insignificant and tangential matter” (Carafa, “Memorial Letter,” in Reform Thought, p. 60). Finally, Philip McNair’s somewhat costic and less kind interpretation is no less true: “Clement fiddled whilst Rome burned, and fiddled on behalf of his family” (Philip McNair, Peter Martyr, p. 21). ↑
- Contarini was “certamente suggerito [per la commissione] dalla marchesa.” Cargnoni, FC, II, p. 214. We will discuss Contarini’s own friendship with Ochino below. The letter, in the words of Benedetto Nicolini, is “di pretta l’ispirazione ochiniana.” Quoted in ibid., p. 215. ↑
- Vittoria Colonna, “Vittoria Colonna al Card. Contarini,” in FC, II, p. 219-220. ↑
- Bernardine of Asti was elected “Vicar General” of the Capuchins in 1535. “Vicar General” is the term whch refers to the highest office in the Order of Capuchins at the time. The General of the reform was the Master General of the Conventuals (Iriarte, p. 200) even though “essa sarà sempre considerata nei documenti pontifici come una vera e distinta famiglia francescana, internamente autonoma” (Cargnoni, FC I, p. 21). The title “General Minister” (and legitimate successor of St. Francis) was not applied to the head of the Capuchins until the bull Alias felicis recordationis of Paul V in 1619. See Iriarte, p.210. ↑
- See the seminal thoughts in Bainton, Ochino, pp. 24-25. There is also a more recent work by Alessandra Berardi, Il contribuito di Bernardino Ochino alle constituzioni cappuccine del 1536. A doctoral dissertation written for l’Università degli Studi “G. D’Annunzio.” Chieti, Academic Year 1987-88. ↑
- Rozzo includes an appendix, “Per un’iconografia ochiniana,” in his edition of the Sette Dialogi of Bernardine Ochino [Bernardino Ochino, “Dialogi sette” e altri scritti del tempo della fuga, ed. and trans. Ugo Rozzo. (Collana “Testi della Riforma,” 14) (Torino, Claudiana Editrice, 1985)]. He reproduces in his book an “interpretazione risorgimentale” of Ochino identified as the “founder” of the Capuchins (see figure #18). One wonders how much credit for the Capuchin success would have gone to Ochino had his religious history not taken such a drastic turn! ↑
- Iriarte, p. 206. ↑
- In Cargnoni, FC I, p. 32. ↑
- See Ugo Rozzo, ed. and trans., in Sette Dialogi, p. 11. Significantly, a historian of Naples, Antonino Castaldo, was to record that “This man preached in a very moral and edifying manner . . . . He left some followers in Naples who were later called ‘spiritati’ because of the change in their lives” (in McNair, Peter Martyr, p. 37-38). ↑
- Cargnoni, “Ochino,” DS, p. 576, col. 2. ↑
- Gigliola Fragnito, Gasparo Contarini, un magistrato veneziano al servizio della cristianità (Biblioteca della Rivista di Storia e Letteratura Religiosa. Studi e testi, IX) (Firenze, 1988), p. 260-261. On the 7th of August, 1542, just weeks before his flight, Ochino had written Gonzaga indicating that he had not as yet received his obedience to preach in Mantua (p. 261, n. 25). Gonzaga has become a more controversial figure recently as scholars look closely at his actions that August. Having requested his presence and received Ochino’s reply, Gonzaga had seen Ochino in subsequent days “dressed as a soldier” (actually, in flight to Switzerland) while, supposedly, not suspecting anything unsusual was taking place (p. 260). As Fragnito implies, “Non si può pensare che l’Ochino fosse così imprudente da farsi riconoscere dal cardinale, stranamente vestito com’era, se non avesse avuto buoni motivi per credere di poterlo fare senza rischio.” For Fragnito, this also sheds doubt on Nicolini’s assertion of a “scarsa simpatia” of Gonzaga for Ochino (p. 261, n. 26). ↑
- Fragnito, p. 299. ↑
- Pietro Aretino in Il secondo libro delle lettere translated by Rita Belladonna in Bernardino Ochino, Seven Dialogues also in FC, p. 266-267. ↑
- Pietro Aretino to Giustiniano Nelli (March 20, 1539) in FC, II, p. 267. ↑
- Bainton, Ochino, p. 34. See a collection of comments on his preaching by contemporaries, in ibid., pp. 33-35. ↑
- Gianpietro Carafa, “Memorial to Pope Clement VII (1532),” Reform Thought in Sixteenth Century Italy, p.58. While it is out of the scope of our research here, Salvatore Caponetto documents well this “nest” of Conventual Franciscans in Venice which served as a conduit for Reformation ideas. See Caponetto, “La ‘nidata’ dei francescani conventuali,” in his Riforma, pp. 74-79. ↑
- Carafa, ibid., p. 64. The parentheses are those of the translator. ↑
- With Firpo we can lament that “La mancanza di uno studio accurato sulla decisiva fase italiana della biografia ochiniana . . . impedisce di andare al di là delle mere ipotesi, degli accostamenti scontati, delle constatazioni ovvie, delle analogie elementari (per esempio con la vicenda di Caterina Cibo).” Massimo Firpo, Inquisizione Romana e Controriforma: Studi sul Cardinal Giovanni Morone e il suo processo d’eresia (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1992), p. 121. ↑
- “O cittadini di Venezia, che maniera d’agire è dunque la vostra? Se tu, o città regina del mare, getti in prigione coloro che ti annungiano la verità, se li chiodi negli ergastoli, se li carichi di ceppi, dove andrà dunque a rifugirasi la verità?” Related in Boverio Annales cited in Bainton, Ochino, p. 52. Later, Ochino was to write to the Signori of Venice: “Già Christo ha incominciato [a] penetrare in Italia; ma vorrei che v’intrasse glorioso, a la scoperta, e credo che Venezia sarà la porta . . . e guai a quelli che con Erode per uman timore il perseguitaranno.” Ochino in “Bernardino Ochino alla Signoria di Venezia,” I Setti Dialoghi, ed. Rozzo, p. 129. ↑
- The timing of the bull instituting the Inquistion (July 21) and Ochino’s call to Rome (July 15) presents some doubt as to whether Ochino could have suspected that he would have been brought before that body. July 15 would have been the end of the consistory which counseled the pope’s action of July 21. Despite this, Bainton and others would see the condemnation of others in the recent months was sufficient cause to predict the outcome. See Bainton, Ochino, p. 52-53. ↑
- McNair, Peter Martyr, p. 283. ↑
- Emidio Campi, ed. Protestantesimo nei secoli: Fonti e Documenti I, Cinquecento e Seicento (Torino: Caludiana, 1991), p. 198. ↑
- His older brother, Alfonso de Valdés, was to be secretary for Latin letters to Charles V. See Domingo Ricart, New Catholic Encyclopedia, XIV (London: McGraw Hill, 1967), p.514. ↑
- Caponetto, p. 81. ↑
- Juan de Valdés owes much of his initial success in Italy to Clement VII. “When Juan de Valdés was in Rome, [Clement’s Medici-favoring policy mentioned above] was tied to the Empire, and the Spaniard qua Spaniard was persona grata with the Pope . . . Clement had remained to the end a Medici and a Florentine whose facillating policy sacrificed Italy to the Imperialist party and the power of Spain.” (McNair, Peter Martyr, p. 23,24) ↑
- McNair, Peter Martyr, p. 25. The author mentions that Valdés shared the Florentine Medici hatred for the Roman Farnese family and that it “became so intense that it bordered on the pathological.” (p. 24) ↑
- This “Illuminism” was to have a profound impact in post-Tridentine France and Spain through the likes of the Archbishop François de Sales Fénelon and Miguel de Molinos. See E.W. Trueman Dicken, “Other Spanish Spiritual Writers,” in Cheslyn Jones, et al., ed. The Study of Spirituality (NY: Oxford Univ Press, 1986), p. 378. ↑
- D. Cantimori, “Il circolo di Juan de Valdés e gli altri gruppi evangelici,” Umanesimo e Religione nel Rinascimento (Torino: Einaudi, 1975), p. 197. Caponetto has called attention to recent studies which show the work of Valdés to be decidedly Lutheran in character. See Caponetto, p. 83. ↑
- The work of Carlos Gilly, Juan de Valdés: Übersetzer und Bearbeiter von Luthers Schriften in seinem “Dialogo de Doctrina,” (1975), is cited in Caponetto, p. 83. ↑
- Caponetto, p. 85. ↑
- Caponetto, p. 85. ↑
- Caponetto, p. 84. ↑
- ibid. ↑
- McNair, Peter Martyr, p. 19. He cites here the Diálogo de doctrina cristiana of Valdés, fol. xvii ↑
- Rozzo, ed., Dialoghi Sette, p. 10. ↑
- Cargnoni will also find these themes making their way into the Capuchin Constitutions of 1536. See FC, I, p. 228 and ibid., n. 5. ↑
- Caponetto, pp. 85-86. Here, the author lists over thirty of the leading members of the circle from which the following names are taken. See also Massimo Firpo, Riforma protestante ed eresie nell’Italia del Cinquecento (Bari: Laterza, 1993), pp. 119, and Campi, Protestantesimo, p. 198. ↑
- A Canon Regular of St. Augustine, the Florentine Vermigli was, like Ochino, noted as a great preacher who would eventually flee, just after Ochino, to the north. He remained many years as professor of Scripture at Zurich where he died in 1562. Interestingly, the sale of his library in Zurich after his death included “an abundance of Church Fathers in splendid Erasmian editions and a nine-volume set of Erasmus’ Opera. In fact, of the eighteen titles listed in the first catalogue of the Academy’s library compiled in 1572, well over half had belonged to Vermigli.” John Tedeschi, “The Cultural Contributions of Italian Protestant Reformers in the Late Renaissance,” in Libri, idee e sentimenti religiosi nel Cinquecento Italiano, ed. Adriano Prosperi and Albano Biondi (Modena: Panini, 1986), p. 88. ↑
- Carnesecchi is perhaps the most noted Italian dissident. From a nobile Florentine family, he escaped condemenation of the Inquisition twice (1546, 1557) before being brought before the Holy Office in 1566. Refusing to denounce his faith and to collaborate with the Inquisition in providing names of other reformers, he was put to death in 1567. Given his numerous connections, the accounts of his Process have provided rich material for the study of Italian reform. See Campi, Protestantesimo, p. 228. ↑
- Giulia Gonzaga was the cousin of the Cardinal of Mantua mentioned above and related, by her short marriage to Vespasiano Colonna, to Vittoria Colonna. After the death of Valdés, “[essa] continuò la direzione del movimento, diramatosi per tutta la penisola.” Caponetto, Riforma, p. 88. ↑
- Close friend of Giulia Gonzaga, the Spanish born Bresegna was, independent of her Spanish military husband, a wealthy promoter of industry near Naples. She fled to Germany in 1557 after years of fighting for “liberty of conscience.” See Roland Bainton, Women of the Reformation in Germany and Italy (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1971), pp. 219-220. ↑
- A Benedictine from Mantua, Fontanini is said to have been the first author of the classic work of the Italian reform movement, Beneficio di Cristo. See Gleason, ed., Reform Thought, p. 103. ↑
- Humanist poet and reformer, Flaminio translated Valdés Alfabeto Christiano into Italian and revised the Beneficio di Cristo along Calvinist lines. He was the successor to Ochino as friend and confidant of Caterina Cibo. He was in the service of many church leaders of the time, among them Leo X, Clement VII, Gian Matteo Giberti, reforming bishop of Verona, and, in his later years, was a secretary to Reginald Pole at Viterbo. Although he satisfied the Inquisition’s requirements for orthodoxy, Carafa was to say, after Flaminio’s death, that he “would like to dig him up and burn his remains.” See Bainton, Women, p. 196 and Gleason, ed., Reform Thought, p. 103. ↑
- Cibo and Colonna do not appear on all lists, but are spoken of in passing as members of this circle of influence. See Bainton, Women, p. 192, 202-205, Campi, Protestantesimo, p. 198 and Firpo, Riforma, p. 130 . ↑
- See the discussion in Elizabeth Gleason, ed. and trans., Reform Thought, p. 104. ↑
- Firpo, Riforma, p. 90. ↑
- Gleason, ed., Reform Thought, p. 104. ↑
- McNair, Peter Martyr, p. 36. ↑
- “Nicodemism” was the term scornfully used by Calvin to describe those Christians who silently espoused Reform doctrine but continued to live in the “shadows of night” to avoid suspicion of their actual religious beliefs. Firpo cites Calvin for having written: “Se ben altri si metesse ad esortarli con ogni caldezza gridando ad alte voci: ‘Uscite, partite, fuggite!’, mi par quasi vedere che molti pochi so moverebbeno. Sì giova e diletta a tutti lo starsene a piacere ne le dolci e soavi delitie del bel paese d’Italia.” From Calvin in his Del fuggir le superstitioni che ripugnano a la vera e sincera confession de la fede (1553) quoted in Firpo, Riforma, p. 133. ↑
- McNair, Peter Martyr, p. 7. He adds: “This I believe to be demonstrably false.” ↑
- See E. De Moreau, SI, et. al., “La diffusione del luteranismo,” in La Crisi Religiosa del Secolo XVI, Storia Della Chiesa, XVI, trans. Gigliola Gamba (Torino: Editrice S.A.I.E., 1967), p. 208 and Caponetto, p. 49 where he cites the recent work of U. Rozzo and S. Seidel Menchi, “Livre et Réforme en Italie,” in La Réforme et le livre (Paris: Cerf, 1990), pp. 327-374. ↑
- Eva-Maria Jung, “On the Nature of Evangelism in Sixteenth-Century Italy,” Journal of the History of Ideas 14 (1953), p. 513. This is also the prevailing view of Delio Cantimori in his early studies of the phenomenon (quoted in McNair, p. 5). We might also add the “Franciscan hegemony” cited by Oberman, Dawn of the Reformation, pp. 5-12. ↑
- Jung, p. 511. ↑
- McNair, Peter Martyr, p. 6-7. ↑
- Cuthbert, I, p. 128. ↑
- Caponetto, p. 117. ↑
- Gleason, ed. and trans., Reform Thought, p. 36. She makes the same comment on the spirituality which lay behind the Oratory of Divine Love which included some members who would also become part of the Valdés circle: “Their primary purpose was moral reform and regeneration of individual members . . . . From the love of God would flow the love of neighbor and concern for his spiritual and physical welfare.” What separates the two for her, it appears, lies in the fact that “Its spirituality was traditional, and so were its forms of devotion [e.g., scourging as a means of penance, etc.].” ibid., p. 10. ↑
- See Firpo, Riforma, pp. 92-3; Caponetto, p. 84; and Silvana Seidel Menchi, Erasmo in Italia: 1520-1580 (Torino: Bollati Boringhieri, 1987), esp. 100ff. ↑
- One is reminded of Steven Ozment’s work on the intellectual origins of the Reformation. “There is an abiding disinclination among humanists to pursue doctrinal questions beyond a certain point,” he writes. “The consequences of ideas [for the humanists] are to be seen to be more important than the ideas themselves; the effects of a religious doctrine must also be considered when one assesses its truthfulness.” See Ozment, “Humanism,” p. 140. Here, we would want to add Emidio Campi’s well-taken caveat that this Italian “irenicism” does not encompass the whole of the reform currents in 16th century Italy. Emidio Campi has aptly criticized works on the Italian reformation as overlooking the less “peaceful” elements such as the Waldensian battles for the maintenance of their faith (and their uniquely successful struggle in maintaining that Reform identity through the Pact of Cavour in 1561) as well as the anti-trinitarian reform elements which were, indeed, doctrinal battles and not easy to identify with the “irenic” humanist elements in Italy. See Emidio Campi, Michelangelo e Vittoria Colonna: Un dialogo artistico-teologico ispirato da Bernardino Ochino (Torino: Caludiana, 1994), pp. 179-182. ↑
- See Belladonna, p. xii. ↑
- Firpo, Riforma, p. 122. ↑
- F. Negri Della Tragedia intitolata Libero Arbitrio, seconda ed., 1550, in Caponetto, p. 122. The “circle” of Valdés would also come under attack from more orthodox Catholic movements. Even Cuthbert of Brighton succumbs to the temptation of falsely grouping Valdés’ circle (“the distinguished body who assembled . . . the noblest families”) with a group of “inactive religious” of whom Cardinal Ercole Gonzaga was to write that they “had no other interest but to drink, eat and sleep.” Yet, Gonzaga wrote this about “certain religious in Mantua in 1547”, and Cuthbert uses it to contrast these Valdesiani with the “men of action” in the Oratory of Divine Love: certainly, an undistinguished “leap” for so great a historian in the name of orthodoxy. The “distinguished body,” he mentions “the noblest families, Colonna, Caracciolio, Gonzaga, Carafa, [and] Cibo,” as well as “ardent intellectuals as Pietro Vermiglio and Marc Antonio Flaminio,” were hardly seen in retrospect as passive navelgazers! c.f. Cuthbert, Capuchins, I, p. 127 and n.15. ↑
- S. Seidel Menchi, Erasmo, pp. 88-89. ↑
- ibid. ↑
- See Roland Bainton, Women of the Reformation in Germany and Italy (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1971), p. 192. ↑
- Cargnoni, FC I, p. 20. ↑
- Franca Petrucci, “Cibo [Cybo], Caterina,” Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani XXV (1981), p. 237. The biographical data is taken from his account. ↑
- Just two examples might suffice to display her influence: She received a bull in December, 1526 to have her husband absolved for the murder of his nephew who had attempted to take Camerino by force, and a another during the same visit to Rome to secure succession of Camerino “qualora marito e figlia le premorissero senza che questa lasciasse figli maschi.” ibid. ↑
- ”Il Sacco di Roma, e l’incoronazione a Bologna di Carlo V come re d’Italia e imperatore (1530), segnarono la fine della cosidetta ‘libertà d’Italia’ e la sanzione sacra del dominio Spagnolo sullo Stato di Milano, sul regno di Napoli, sul regno di Sicilia e sulla Sardegna. Indirettamente il dominio si estendeva sulla Firenze di Alessandro dei Medici, unito in matrimonio con Margherita d’Austria, figlia naturale di Carlo V, sulle repubbliche di Genova, di Lucca e di Siena. Solo la repubblica di Venezia e lo Stato della chiesa riuscivano con grande difficoltà a mantenere la loro indipendenza.” Caponetto, p. 16. It might be noted that Margherita d’Austria would also be a devout follower of Ochino who would attempt to obtain his presence for preaching, sometimes competing with Vittoria Colonna’s requests. See Cargnoni, FC II, p. 233. ↑
- Bainton, Women, p. 187. ↑
- See Belladonna, p. xxviii and more detail of the intrigue in Petrucci, p. 240. It would seem that both the pope and the emperor had others in mind to marry her daughter (for the emperor, it was his son) since Camerino and the Marches were militarily strategic. ↑
- Petrucci, p. 241, although the author indicates that this cannot be proven. See also Caponetto, La Riforma, p. 124. Most today would doubt the historical accuracy of the picture painted in the early chronicles of Ochino at the border of Switzerland surrendering the seal of the Order to Br. Mariano. See also Bainton, Ochino, p. 55. ↑
- Petrucci, p. 241. ↑
- Firpo, Inquisizione, p. 129. Also Caponetto notes that this poem exalting Valdés and addressed to Cibo was unique among Italian florentine writings coming, as it does, as late as 1547 or 1548 (p. 105). ↑
- Bainton, Ochino, p. 55. ↑
- Firpo, Riforma, p. 130. ↑
- Petrucci, p. 241. ↑
- For the most part, this biographical data is taken from that of Giorgio Patrizi, “Colonna, Vittoria,” Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani XXVII (1982), 448-457 ↑
- One would remind the reader that the first wife of Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, the aunt of Charles V, and the denial of Henry’s request for a divorce from her (just after the sack of Rome) would have been more than a just a doctrinal problem. Chadwick, Reformation, p. 99. ↑
- ”In [questi versi] per la prima volta troviamo il tema, tipico, del compianto per l’amato lontano.” Patrizi, p. 448. As Bainton has noted, however, one would wonder about how much actual time they had spent together, given his warring ways. Was the romance more of an ideal than a reality? “Was this a love that would not let him go or a literary affectation?” Bainton, Women, p. 201. ↑
- Patrizi, p. 453. ↑
- According to testimony, Ascanio was also to be of help to Ochino before his flight and helped monetarily even after it. Firpo, Riforma, p. 130. Ascanio “credeva tanto in frate Bernardino come in Christo.” From Il processo di Endimio Calandra in ibid. ↑
- Patrizi points out that Quiñones defense of the Capuchins before Clement VII and Charles V was helped by his having negotiated the release of Clement during the sack of Rome. See p. 450. ↑
- Benedetto Nicolini, Ideali e passioni nell’Italia religiosa del cinquecento, Biblioteca di Cultura diretta da R. Roversi, Vol I (Bologna: Libreria Antiquaria Palmaverde, 1962), p. 29. ↑
- See, e.g., the studies in Bainton, Women, pp. 201-218, Nicolini, Ideali, pp. 28-30, and the recent work by Emidio Campo, Michelangelo e Vittoria Colonna: Un rapporto artistico-teologico ispirata da Bernardino Ochino (Torino: Claudiana Editrice, 1994), pp. 39-40. ↑
- Sergio Pagano, “Vittoria Colonna e l’Inquisizione,” in Nuovi Documenti su Vittoria Colonna e Reginald Pole, Collectanea Archivi Vaticani, 24, ed. Sergio M. Pagano e Concetta Ranieri (Città del Vaticano: Archivio Vaticano, 1989), p. 31. ↑
- Emidio Campi, Michelangelo, p. 39. He cites here the article by Hubert Jedin, “Il cardinale Pole e Vittoria Colonna,” Italia Francescana 22 (1947), pp. 13-30. ↑
- Jedin, p. 29. He also draws a helpful comparison: “Come il movimento della povertà dei secoli XII e XIII, così anche il movimento di riforma del secolo XVI nascondeva in sè possibilità verso due direzioni: poteva divenire via retta o strada falsa.” He goes on to surface the assumptions that the “via retta” was that of Loyola, Giberti, Contarini and the Council of Trent, but these latter point precisely to the problems in current research. ↑
- Firpo insists that “Le fonti non attestano alcun rapporto diretto tra Colonna e il Valdés, mentre prima del 1540-41, una sua conoscenza degli ancor inediti scritti dell’esule spagnolo è solo ipotizzabile sulla base di una possibile mediazione ochiniana.” ↑
- ”Vittoria Colonna al Card. G. Contarini,” FC II, p. 217-218. ↑
- Massimo Firpo, Inquisizione, p. 120. Pagano’s insights are also helpful here: “Se è vero che l’agostinismo è un denominatore comune di molta parte della cultura cristiana dell’inizio del 1500; tuttavia con questo termine, alla vigilia della riforma, si possono indicare un pulviscolo di orientamenti e di dottrine, i quali tendono a coagularsi intorno a due filoni principali, quello etico e umanistico, che è riconducibile in fondo a Petrarcha e parzialmente all’accademia fiorentina, e quello teologico tardo-medioevale, più ristretto all’ambiente degli ordini mendicanti ed alle origini della speculazione di Lutero.” Sergio Pagano, Nuovi Documenti su Vittoria Colonna e Reginald Pole, Collectanea Archivi Vaticani, 24 (Città del Vaticano: Archivio Vaticano, 1989), p. 87. ↑
- Bainton, Ochino, p. 38 ↑
- Cargnoni, FC II, p. 24. ↑
- “Epistoliario di V. Colonna: Al Cardinale Ercole Gonzaga,” in FC II, p. 229. ↑
- Campi, Michelangelo, p. 48. ↑
- Bainton, Ochino, p. 56. Bainton later wondered “How did she know if she did not open the letter?” Bainton, Women, p. 212. ↑
- See Pagano, p. 32-35, and Firpo thoroughly documented work in “Vittoria Colonna, Giovanni Morone e gli ‘spirituali’,” in his Inquisizione, pp. 119-175 and his “Valdesianesimo ed Evangelismo: Alle Origine dell’Ecclesia Viterbiensis (1541),” in Libri, Idee, pp. 53-71. ↑
- Patrizi, p. 452. ↑
- Patrizi, p. 453. ↑
- In Campi, Michelangelo, p. 46 and note 104. ↑
- See the bibliographical data supplied in F.F. Strauss, New Catholic Encyclopedia IV, 257-258. ↑
- Gleason, ed., trans., in “Three Letters of Gasparo Contarini to Paolo Giustiniani and Paolo Querini (1511-1523),” in Reform Thought, p. 25, 26. ↑
- ”Three Letters,” p. 33. ↑
- See Gleason, ed., trans., “Proposal of a Select Committee of Cardinals and other Prelates Concerning the Reform of the Church, Written and Presented by Order of His Holiness Pope Paul III (1537) in Reform, pp. 81-84. “In 1555 Carafa became Pope Paul IV, and four years later licensed the first Papal Index of prohibited books. It is evidence of how far the tide of liberalism had receded that one of the items listed was the very Consilium de emendanda ecclesia of which twenty-one years before he had been a signatory.” McNair, Peter Martyr, p. 15, n. 2. ↑
- ”Proposal,” Reform Thought, p. 87. ↑
- ”Proposal,” Reform Thought, p. 86. ↑
- ”Proposal,” Reform Thought, p. 88. ↑
- Gleason, “Le Idee di Riforma della Chiesa in Gasparo Contarini,” Gapsaro Contarini e il suo tempo, ed. Francesco C. Romanelli (Editio Studium Cattolico Veneziano, 1985), pp. 126, 128. ↑
- McNair, Peter Martyr, p. 14-15. ↑
- Contarini in Gleason, “Idee,” p. 140. ↑
- Contarini in Gleason, “Idee,” p. 142. ↑
- ibid. ↑
- Cited in Cargnoni, FC III, p. 1806. ↑
- Ochino cited in Fragnito, p. 272. ↑
- From Cargnoni’s transliteration, FC II, 261. It should be noted that other transliterations concur with Benrath’s “evidenti indicii.” See Fragnito, p. 272 and Rozzo, ed., Dialogi Sette, p. 123. We await a critical edition of Bernardine’s writings, now underway at the University of Zurich. ↑
- Letter to Giberti cited in Fragnito, “Gli Spirituali,” p. 259. ↑
- See the discussion in Fragnito, p. 275, n. 61. ↑
- Fragnito, p. 280. ↑
- ibid. p. 282 and the discussion of the event in Bainton, Ochino, pp. 53-54. ↑
- ”Per molto valdesiani, rompere con la vecchia struttura ecclesiastica [è] rischiare ‘l’honore la robba e la vita’.” Caponetto citing Flaminio, .p. 122. ↑
- Rozzo, ed. Dialogi Sette, p. 31. An opinion gleaned, no doubt, from the work of Fragnito, pp. 297-298. ↑
- Bainton, p. 54. ↑
- The adjective used by Firpo is not inappropriate: “irenismo contariniano.” Inquisizione, p. 135. ↑
- Gleason, “”Le idee della Riforma,” p. 133. ↑
- ”The line of demarcation was clearly defined, the divergence in belief a reality.” Jedin, A History of the Council of Trent, I, trans. Dom Ernest Graf, OSB (NY: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1957), p. 409. ↑
- Jedin uses the “dream of an understanding” as the chapter heading for his handling of the subject, ibid. Caponetto does the same for his treatment of Ratisbon, p. 117. ↑
- Cuthbert, Capuchins, I, p. 140. Vermigli’s flight, during the same period, “caused no outcry against the Augustinians — nor, for that matter, did Martin Luther’s.” ↑
- See Davide da Portogruaro, Storia dei Cappuccini Veneti, I: Gli Inizi (1525-1560), (Venezia-Mestre: Curia Provinciale dei Cappuccini, 1941), pp. 223-224. A chronicler of the Venetian province has indicated a “quarantina” who were forced to flee; this information comes from the chroncicles of Paul of Foligno. The archivist, P. Davide da Portogruaro, reporting from this chronicle notes: “Sui 90 individui circa, che allora contava la Provincia Veneta, il numero degli sbandati, datoci da questo cronista, è assai rilevante; non può quindi esser ammesso se non con l’intervento in provincia di molti elementi forestieri adunati, come si disse già, dall’Ochino.” Thus, he cites friars from Verona who also are counted among this “40” (ibid). Nonetheless, the chronicle shows that Ochino was not alone. Cuthbert also indicates “It soon became evident that Ochino was not without followers among the brethren, especially in the Venetian province. The Father Guardian of Verona, who did not conceal his opinions, was imprisoned by the bishop, hitherto Ochino’s friend; others followed Ochino in his flight” (I, p. 138). Cargnoni would want to downplay the role of these “followers:” “Ma ciò non toglie che anche queste frange di francescani convertiti al credo protestante non rappresentino che una ben piccola minoranza nell’Ordine del quale testimoniano, semmai, una serpeggiante inquietudine di rinnovamento religioso e di crisi spirituale.” [Cargnoni, Review of Caponetto’s La Riforma Protestante, Collectanea Francescana 63 (1993), pp. 353-354]. A working assumption for others would be that the Capuchins themselves in 1542 would have reason to downplay the numbers. One could find interesting, e.g., the account of Mario da Mercato-Seraceno and his own charges against Bernardine of Asti and the others were it not for the ways in which history has also disclaimed his accusor, “the Capuchin lay brother Fra Timotheo.” Cuthbert, p. 141. ↑
- From his Letter to Gerolamo Muzio, Responsio ad Mutium Justinopolitanum (Geneva, April 7, 1543), in Rozzo, ed. Dialoghi Sette, p. 132. ↑
- McNair, Peter Martyr, p. 36-37. Cuthbert also makes this point in I, p. 140. ↑
- Cited in Caponetto, p. 125. In the closing of his letter, he asked Calvin to help Ochino: “In qualunque modo tu lo aiuterai, Cristo aiuterai.” ↑
- See Bainton, Women, p. 168. ↑
- Rozzo, ed., Dialogi Setti, p. 21. ↑
- Costanzo Cargnoni, Review of Rozzo’s I ‘Dialogi Setti’, in CF 57 (1987), p. 158. ↑
- This manuscript summary is taken, for the most part, from Rozzo’s treatment in his edition, pp. 21-25. ↑
- Rozzo notes that the simultaneous publications of these works would indicate an increased desire for the printed works of Ochino at this time. See ibid. p. 163, n. 58. ↑
- In his work “D’una sconosciuta edizione d’un dialogo dell’Ochino,” in Ideali e Passioni, pp. 143-146. ↑
- Rozzo, Dialogi Sette, p. 22, 23. Rozzo makes the case for the similarity of the aforementioned seventh dialogue with a work attributed to the Capuchin Antonio da Pinerolo, Dialogo di Maestro e Discepolo, a similarity so striking to him that it appears to be virtually an “appendice” to the ochinian work. He thus would make the claim that the work belongs to the ochinian opus rather than to the cited Capuchin friar. Cargnoni argues that the similarity need not indicate ochinian authorship since it resembles other religious literature “dell’evangelismo italiano ortodosso” of the time (See Cargnoni, FC III, p. 3197). “Noi,” writes Cargnoni in his introduction to the work’s inclusion in his FC, “fino a prova contraria, preferiamo seguire la tradizione” (III, p. 3240). ↑
- Rozzo, Dialogi Sette, p. 24. ↑
- See Rozzo’s discussion in his Nuovi Contributi, p. 53-55. ↑
- The Venetian edition of these latter sermons were discovered by Philip McNair. See his work with Philip McNair and John Tedeschi, “New Light on Ochino,” Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance 23 (1973), pp. 289-301. Called the Prediche predicate, they are preserved in the British museum in London and include the 5 sermons given in Lucca (1538) and two others offered in Venice (1539). The former nine sermons include eight preached by Ochino in Venice (1539) and the one delivered in Perugia (1539 or 1536). This edition is preserved in the Biblioteca di Firenze. See the information following the introduction of the Sermons by Cargnoni, FC III, pp. 2117-18. ↑
- Cargnoni, FC III, p. 2119, n. 3. The sermon itself is found on pp. 2119-2134. ↑
- The unknown admirer dedicated his transcription to “suor Antonia da Villa Basilica, sorella mia diletissima in Santo Georgio.” See Cargnoni,FC III, p. 2134. The sermons appear on pp. 2134-2191. ↑
- Cargnoni, FC III, pp. 2192-2202. ↑
- Cargnoni, FC III, pp. 2202-2290. Ochino had indicated to the people of Venice at that time that he had already preached an astonishing thirty series of Lenten sermons. See FC III, p. 2287: “ . . . fin qui ho predicato trenta quaresime.” ↑
- Cargnoni, FC III, pp. 2290-2306. ↑
- Cargnoni cites Rusconi in his Predicazione e vita religiosa nella società italiana (Torino, 1981). The latter has indicated that the sermons are “singolarmente diverse da quelle dei contemporanei.” Cargnoni, however, laments our inability to compare Ochino with his contemporaries due to the lack of similar reportationes. However, the very existence of the reportationes points, in my opinion, to the importance of Ochino’s preaching in that his thought was sensed by the Italians who heard him to be rich enough to preserve. cf. Cargnoni, FC III, p. 1771. ↑
- ”Works in dialogue form were already a favorite literary form among the fourteenth and particularly the fifteenth century humanists. Because of its undogmatic and sometimes elusive quality, the dialogue became a frequent medium for the expression of contrasting religious opinions among the Italian spirituali of the sixteenth century. Erasmus’ colloquies no doubt played an important part in popularizing the dialogue as a mode of discussion of religious ideas.” Belladonna, ed. and trans., Seven Dialogues, p. xxv. ↑
- See above p. 16, n. 40. ↑
- See Cargnoni’s Introduction to the Sermons, FC III, pp. 1775-1782. ↑
- Cited in Cargnoni, FC III, p. 1793. ↑
- See Belladonna, p. xxvi. There are various attempts to synthesize the thought of Ochino. See the reflections on his Dialogues in Rozzo, ed. Dialogi Sette, pp. 25-30 and in Belladonna, p. xxiv-xxx; the thoughts on Ochino’s Christology and Mariology in Campi, Michelangelo, pp. 21-37; the general introductions to Ochino’s works cited from FC and, in particular, Cargnoni in FC III, “I ‘Dialogi sette’ di Bernardino Ochino,” pp. 92-98 and “La predicazione ‘evangelica’ di Bernardino Ochino,” pp. 1770-1806; and the work by Benedetto Nicolini, Il pensiero di Bernardino Ochino (Napoli, 1939). ↑
- FC III, p. 2126. Cargnoni notes here (n. 27) that Ochino shows his “antihumanistic radical spiritualism.” Perhaps, from another viewpoint, one could see that Ochino is objecting more, precisely in line with most humanists of the day, against the scholastic theologians who relied on Plato and Aristotle for their argumentation. Later, in the same sermon, Ochino questions: “Che cosa è geometria, eccetto misurare tuoi stenti? . . . La teologia mondana, per farti ippocrito e soperstizioso? Ohimè che non è cosa più pestifera quanto la scienza del l’antico serpe” (p. 2129) It is interesting to note that he will use the word “pestifera” later to apply to the teaching of the Church of Rome: “Siamo d’accordo che la dottrina papistica è pestifera” (in his preaching in Geneva, Prediche V, n. XXII, in Bainton, Ochino, p. 125). ↑
- “. . . Non ti appoggiare all’ombre di questo mundo, imperoché, cristiano mio, tutte queste cose sono ombre. E cosí come l’ombre non ti possono saziare se le fusseno in infinito, cosí le cose di questo misero mondo non ti possono saziare, né quietare, e tutte queste cose sono come sogni, imperoché i sogni paiono veri” (Luccan preaching, FC III, p. 2166-67). Even more strongly in the subsequent sermon he says: “E però, cristiano mio, non voler commutare e recusare tutte queste cose per lo sterco di questo mundo, per queste mondane cose, frali, finte, breve, momentanee e transitorie!” (FC III, p. 2171). ↑
- See FC III, pp. 2126-27. ↑
- Ibid., p. 2127. ↑
- Dialogo III, FC III, p. 471. ↑
- Dialogo III, FC III, p. 473. ↑
- ibid., p. 2129-30. The early Capuchin Constitutions caution friars not to be too eager to read “impertinent and useless” books, but only the Sacred Scriptures, “imo Cristo Iesu sanctissimo, nel quale, secondo Paolo, sono tutti li tesori de la sapienza e scienzia di Dio.” Constitutions of 1536, # 4 (FC I, p. 260). ↑
- See his final Venetian sermon, FC III, p. 2293. ↑
- In his Venetian sermon on Monday of Holy Week, FC III, p. 2236. ↑
- FC III, p. 2133. ↑
- FC III, p. 2147, 2148. ↑
- Dialogo I, FC III, p. 458-459. ↑
- See above, pp. 26-27. ↑
- See Dialogo I, FC III, p. 461. ↑
- Dialogo I, FC III, p. 465. ↑
- Cargnoni, “Ochino,” col. 583-584. ↑
- Dialogo I, FC III, p. 468. ↑
- FC, III, p. 2168. ↑
- Sixth Venetian sermon, FC, III, p. 2288-2289. ↑
- First Venetian sermon, FC III, p. 2183. ↑
- Venetian sermon on Easter Monday, FC III, p. 2265. ↑
- Venetian sermon in Venice, Friday after Passion Sunday, FC III, p. 2205. ↑
- Venetian sermon on the feast of Mary Magdalene, FC III, p. 2302. ↑
- Cargnoni, FC III p. 2248, n. 24. He refers the reader to Ochino’s own instructions for the Forty Hours devotion held in Siena in Advent of 1540. He notes there “la centralità del Crocifisso e non dell’Eucarestia.” ibid., p. 2970, n.15. It is interesting to note the correspondence to the Beneficio di Cristo: “Because the whole essence of the mass (sic) consists of this most divine sacrament, when the Christian finds himself there, he should always hold the eyes of his mind fixed on the passion of our most gracious Lord . . . . Oh, how happy is he who closes his eyes to all other sights and wants to see and understand only Jesus Christ crucified, in whom all the graces and treasures of wisdom and knowledge are stored!” Benefice of Christ in Gleason, ed. and trans, Reform Thought, p. 146. ↑
- FC III, p. 2248. In the end, this citation is the summation of the purpose of the sacrament and what one accomplishes in communicating. It is interesting to note that there were some who would not go to communion in Venice for various reasons. Some because they were not “perfect,” others because they were “in matrimonio,” implying that sex had made them unworthy for its reception. Ochino rails against the latter practice and says that marriage “non è peccato, ma è sagramento.” See pp. 2246-2248. ↑
- See above, p. 27. ↑
- FC III, p. 2257. One cannot help but be reminded of Francis’ own reflection on the Eucharist in his famous Admonition I,8: “Unde omnes qui viderunt Dominum Jesum secundum humanitatem et non viderunt et crediderunt secundum spiritum et divinitatem, ipsum esse verum Filium Dei, damnati sunt.” Taken from the critical edition of Kajetan Esser, ed., Opuscula Sancti Patris Francisci Assisiensis (Grottaferrata: Collegii S. Bonaventurae ad Claras Aquas, 1978), p. 60. Also called to mind is Admonition VII’s view of the Sacred Scripture (Esser, p. 68). Of course, Ochino has his own evangelical perspective to this “seeing” since all of it refers to the center of his teaching: Jesus Christ and the benefits of his passion and death. See also, in regard to the humanists, the perspective of James D. Tracy, “Ad Fontes: The Humanist Understanding of Scripture as Nourishment for the Soul,” Christian Spirituality II: High Middle Ages and Reformation, ed. Jill Rait. (NY: Crossroads, 1989), pp. 254-257. ↑
- FC III, p. 2258. ↑
- FC III, p. 2258. ↑
- ”. . . con l’occhio vivo del core per fede.” See FC III, p. 2297. We would note in this reflection in the last of his sermons in Venice (on Mary Magdalene), that he chooses the verb “purge” to indicate Christ’s action in taking away our sins (purgare). It is in examples like this one where the question of Ochino’s “masked” reflections come into play. Was “purgatory” in the mind of Ochino? He had indicated that even Luther “believes” in purgatory in his previous sermon (FC III, p. 2286). While Cargnoni mentions that this was said for “effetto oratorio” (n. 24), one could wonder whether he meant that he and Luther both agreed that Christ is our purgatory. See Rozzo, Nuovi Contributi, p. 75-77. Here, Rozzo approaches Ochino’s “evangelical” tenor, and his nascent Protestant stances, by means of what Ochino did not explicitly say; we will discuss his argument below. ↑
- Dialogo I, FC III, p. 464. ↑
- Gleason in Reform Thought, p. 4. ↑
- Second Luccan Sermon, FC III, p. 2144. ↑
- Second Lucan Sermon, FC III, p. 2145. It may be helpful to see here that, just as for many of the reformers, for Ochino too works come from faith. From the Beneficio di Cristo: “As soon as God gives this true faith to man, the force of love impels him to do good, and like the best of trees, to yield the sweetest fruits to God and neighbor. In the same way, it is impossible to set a block of wood on fire without producing light.” Benefice of Christ in Reform Thought, p. 122. ↑
- Sermon in Venice on the feast of Mary Magdalene, FC III, p. 2303. One can wonder whether Ochino’s “ecclesiology” (if we can use a later term) was already that expressed in passing in the Beneficio: “The church, namely, every faithful soul, is the bride of Christ, and Christ is her spouse” (Benefice of Christ in Reform Thought, p. 117). ↑
- FC III, p. 2302. ↑
- FC III, p. 2306. In my opinion, this would, essentially, be Ochino’s re-reading of the passage that “The one to whom little is forgiven, loves little” (See FC III, p. 2300 and Luke 7:47). See also Cargnoni where he points out that Ochino would be holding up the work of love as penance instead of any ascetical practice when Ochino says: “Cosí dovereste far voi per far penitenza de’ peccati passati” (FC III, p. 2306 and n. 55). ↑
- Dialogo I, FC III, p. 469. ↑
- FC III, p. 2181. ↑
- FC III, pp. 2188-89. ↑
- FC III, p. 2191. ↑
- FC III, p. 2191. ↑
- From the first Venetian homily, FC III, p. 2185. ↑
- See, e.g., Francis’ Admonition II in Esser, ed., pp. 62-63. ↑
- See the Beneficio di Cristo for an example of this. It was more and more prevalent, in a reading of St. Paul via Augustine, to call attention to humanity’s fallen nature. “It is impossible for us to love God through our own efforts . . . . The loss of justice and the inclination and readiness towards every unrighteousness and impiety is called original sin . . . . If we wish to be freed from these things and return to that first innocence, regaining the image of God, we must first recognize our misery” (Benefice of Christ, p. 106,107). “[If the sin of Adam] was sufficient to constitute us sinners and children of wrath without any actual fault of our own, the justice of Christ will be far more sufficient to make us just and children of grace, without any of our own good works” (Benefice of Christ, p. 112). ↑
- See also Cargnoni, “Ochino,” col. 587 (“[la spiritualité] n’a pas la tonalité sombre du calvinisme, mais rend un son optimiste”) and Belladonna, p. xxvi. ↑
- FC III, p. 2176. ↑
- FC III, p. 2178. ↑
- See the fifth Luccan sermon, FC III, p. 2167 and also p. 2137. ↑
- Dialogo VI, FC III, p. 513. ↑
- FC III, p. 2141. ↑
- Venetian sermon, Friday after Passion Sunday, FC III, p. 2208. ↑
- Venetian sermon, Saturday after Passion Sunday, FC III, p. 2219. ↑
- FC III, pp. 2251-52. See also Cargnoni’s comments, FC III, p. 2242. ↑
- FC III, p. 2292. ↑
- See his Holy Saturday sermon in Venice, FC III, p. 2237 and Cargnoni, ibid., n. 15. ↑
- FC III, p. 2238. ↑
- FC III, p. 2239. ↑
- FC III, p. 2240. ↑
- FC III, p. 2241. ↑
- He mentions the “supreme justice of God” through Christ,” but nowhere have we found “justice” and “faith” in any correlation. See FC III, p. 2133. ↑
- Cargnoni, “Ochino,” col. 583. ↑
- This discussion can be found in the work cited, Rozzo, Nuovi contributi, pp. 71-72. ↑
- Rozzo, Nuovi contributi, p. 71. ↑
- From Ochino’s Introduction to his sermons in Geneva (October 10, 1542) in Rozzo, ed. and trans., Dialogi Sette, p. 127. ↑
- From his Letter to Gerolamo Muzio, Responsio ad Mutium Justinopolitanum (Geneva, April 7, 1543), in Rozzo, Dialogi Sette, p. 132. ↑
- Cargnoni, Review of Rozzo’s Dialogi Sette, CF 57 (1987), p. 158. ↑
- FC III, p. 530. Nicolini’s thought’s are taken from Rozzo’s summary in Nuovi Contributi, p. 72. ↑
- FC III, p. 530. ↑
- To Marco da Brescia: “Quod autem Dei spiritus mihi consultor fuerit et dux itineris, conscientia mea fidelis mihi testis est.” In Rozzo, Nuovi Contributi, p. 72. ↑
- Dialogo VII, FC III, p. 515. Rozzo’s discussion is found on pp. 73-76 of his Nuovi Contributi. ↑
- FC III, p. 516, 517. ↑
- Emidio Campi will use the same “argument from negation” in his development of Ochino’s mariology: “Ma il significato [di Maria] è sempre quello di madre, secondo la carne, del Verbo incarnato, non già di ‘madre divina’ che collabora servendo alla redenzione dell’umanità e in quanto tale, prototipo e compendio della chiesa. Appunto per questa ragione non si incontra alcun parallelismo tra Eva peccatrice e corrotta e Maria santa e incorrota, né compaiono altri titoli mariani, pure altrettanto diffusi, come Mediatrice, Avvocata, Oratrice . . . Essa è usata quasi come modulo ermeneutico . . . per esprimere con cautela il processo della salvezza per grazia.” In Michelangelo, p. 35-36. ↑
- FC III, p. 519. ↑
- Rozzo, Nuovo Contributi, p. 76. ↑
- FC III, p. 521. ↑
- FC III, p. 2137. ↑
- FC III, p. 2172. ↑
- Fifth Luchese preaching, FC III, p. 2175. Campi’s transliteration of this text uses the phrase “con quelli possi pagare ogni altreo debito”(cited in Campi, p. 23). He takes his text from Philip McNair who is working on its critical edition. See Campi, p. 21. ↑
- Campi, Michelangelo, p. 30 ↑
- Above, p. 13, n.32. ↑
- Elizabeth G. Gleason, “The Capuchin Order in the Sixteenth Century,” Religious Orders of the Catholic Reformation (NY: Fordham, 1994), p. 48-49. ↑
- Duncan Nimmo, Reform and Division in the Medieval Franciscan Order: From St. Francis to the Foundation of the Capuchins (Rome: Capuchin Historical Institute, 1987), p.657. Luther’s traditional “95 theses” were said to have been “posted” in 1517. Thomas More died in 1535. ↑
- See the review of Nimmo’s work, in Optatus van Asseldonk, “Reform and Division in the Franciscan Order: A Critical-Historical Note,” trans. Edward Hagman. Greyfriars Review III, n. 1 (1989), pp. 79-95. On p. 85 of the review, van Asseldonk refers to Nimmo’s just cited reference to the medieval, narrow-minded notion of structural unity and believes that Francis “had in mind more of a true spiritual unity and less a unity of institution or organization.” While this may be the case, it appears that Nimmo and Optatus are approaching the question from different horizons. Nimmo’s question deals precisely with the difficult-to-define relationship between the development of ideas and the condition for the possibility for a culture to conceive them. ↑
- See John Tedeschi, “The Cultural Contributions of the Italian Protestant Reformers in the late Renaissance,” Libri, idee e sentimenti religiosi nel Cinquecento italiano (Modena: Panini, 1987), p. 92. ↑
- Tedeschi, p. 95. ↑
- Firpo, Riforma, p. 92. ↑
- Firpo, Riforma, p. 134. ↑
- Here, we do not want to fall prey to the opinion of those who view the Inquisition itself, and sometimes the violence it perpetuated, outside the historical context of the time. Unfortunately, both Protestants and Catholics attempted initially to solve the dilemma of dissent through violent means. ↑
- A letter from Dryander to Bucer reads: “As far as I can see, Bernardino has never lived more happily, and worked more successfully than just now.” See Belladonna, p. xix. ↑
- Bainton, Ochino, pp. 123-124. ↑
- Belladonna, p. xxii. ↑
- Bainton, Women, p. 228, 233. ↑
- Ochino, Prediche V, n. XXII, in Bainton, Ochino, p. 125. ↑