Reform before the Reformation: Vincenzo Querini and the Religious Renaissance in Italy

Reform before the Reformation: Vincenzo Querini and the Religious Renaissance in Italy

Reform before the Reformation: Vincenzo Querini and the Religious Renaissance in Italy

Reform before the Reformation: Vincenzo Querini and the Religious Renaissance in Italy

Synopsis

An important aspect of the Italian Renaissance was church reform. This book examines the nature of that reform - especially in Venice, Florence and Rome - as viewed through the unpublished manuscripts of a Venetian nobleman who became a Camaldolese hermit: Vincenzo Querini (1478-1514). This book sets Querinis personal journey to reform in the context of Venetian society, as well as against the backdrop of political crisis, cultural revival, and monastic renaissance in Italy generally. Querinis attempt to reform himself, the Roman Catholic Church, and the whole of Christendom are of interest to historians seeking to revise the chronology of early modern church reform since he employed a range of scriptural, humanist, conciliar, monastic, and mystical methods that had medieval antecedents but were also imitated by reformers after the Reformation.

Excerpt

In the autumn of 1506, the artist Raphael was asked by Elisabetta Gonzaga, the duchess of Urbino, to paint a picture for the hermit Don Michele Fiorentino (Michelangelo Bonaventura de’ Pini), who lived at the Tuscan hermitage of Camaldoli in the Appenine mountains. the hermit had recently received a visit from the writer Pietro Bembo (1470–1547), who was then resident at Urbino, and Don Michele had clearly made a huge impression upon the troubled courtier who occasionally toyed with the idea of a monastic retreat. Baldassare Castiglione, who later idealized life at Urbino in his bestseller The Courtier, also planned to visit Michele; and Giuliano de’ Medici, another distinguished resident at Urbino, actually did so. Don Michele was constantly discussed by these men and women of festive Urbino, and it seemed a marvellous thing to them that the hermit could have passed so many years in this cold and isolated spot without leaving his little cell. It was, Bembo wrote later, the holiest place he had ever seen.

The duchess wanted to send a painting by Raphael, a native of Urbino, into this austere world. This present was in return for the chaplet (“corona”) which Don Michele had given to her, and she urged Raphael to complete the painting with all possible speed. Unfortunately, a severe winter and the extremely fine quality of the work delayed completion of the painting until the following spring. the artist and biographer Giorgio Vasari records in his life of Raphael that an “exquisite miniature” originally in the possession of the duke of Urbino was given to two men who joined Don Michele at Camaldoli four years later, and whose lives form the core of this book—Tommaso Giustiniani (1476–1528) and Vincenzo Querini (1478–1514). Raphael’s

On Don Michele, see A. R. Fiori, Vita del B. Michele eremita Camaldolese (Rome, 1720); Bembo’s comments are in a letter of 6 May 1507, in Pietro Bembo, Lettere, ed. E. Travi. 4 vols. (Rome, 1987–93) (hereafter cited as Lettere), 1: 251–2; and see Tommaso Giustiniani’s complimentary remarks about Don Michele in a letter of c. 1520–26, in Sacro Eremo Tuscolano, Frascati (hereafter cited as Tusc.), Cod. Q iv bis, fol. 243v.

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