Camaldolese Extraordinary: The Life, Doctrine, and Rule of Blessed Paul Giustiniani

By Bowd, Stephen | The Catholic Historical Review, July 2004 | Go to article overview
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Camaldolese Extraordinary: The Life, Doctrine, and Rule of Blessed Paul Giustiniani


Bowd, Stephen, The Catholic Historical Review


Camaldolese Extraordinary: The Life, Doctrine, and Rule of Blessed Paul Giustiniani. By Dom Jean Leclercq and Blessed Paul Giustiniani. Edited by the Camaldolese Hermits of Monte Corona. (Bloomington, Ohio: Ercam Editions. 2003. Pp. xii, 536. $35.00.)

This volume presents in English translation for the first time Dom Jean Leclercq's 1951 biography of the Venetian nobleman Tommaso Giustiniani (1476-1528), who entered the eremitic Camaldolese order as fra Paolo in 1511. Alongside this work the Camaldolese of Monte Corona (founded by Giustiniani in 1523) have issued Dom Leclercq's meditation on the spiritual works of Giustiniani entitled Alone with God. The third and final major section of this book contains Giustiniani's rule of 1516,again published in English translation for the first time.

In his biography Leclercq describes Giustiniani's journey toward the ascetic life through the carnivals and carnal temptations of a Venetian adolescence via a Paduan education in which Giustiniani was soaked in stoic and neo-Platonic philosophy whilst also struggling to embrace fully the sacrifice made by Christ. Giustiniani perhaps never fully rejected human philosophy, but he urgently sought solitude first on the lagoon island of Murano, then in the Holy Land, and finally in the quasi-eremitic seclusion of the original Camaldolese house at Camaldoli, high in the beautiful Tuscan Appenines. However, even here Giustiniani and his companion Vincenzo Querini, a fellow Venetian patrician, were faced with disorderly hermits who preferred wandering the country to cultivating the contemplative life, and they were forced to confront the order's indefatigable general, who was resistant to the reforms proposed by these upstart "pharisees"-notably the separation of the eremitic and cenobitic houses. Giustiniani 's vision for the order is set out in the Rule of the Eremitic Life (1516), which forms the third section of this volume, while section II provides Leclercq's extended meditation on Giustiniani's eremitic ideals, which were perhaps most fully realized during the final years of his life in the wild and remote Marches of Ancona.

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