Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Proibito Capire: La Chiesa E Il Volgare Nella Prima età Moderna

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Proibito Capire: La Chiesa E Il Volgare Nella Prima età Moderna

Article excerpt

Proibito capire: La Chiesa e il volgare nella prima età moderna. By Gigliola Fragnito. [Saggi, 640.] (Bologna: Società Editrice il Mulino. 2005. Pp. 325. euro23,00 paperback.)

In this tough-minded book, Gigliola Fragnito revisits the subject addressed in her well-known monograph La Bibbia al rogo (1997): the post-Tridentine Church's successful campaign to ban the Bible in the Italian vernacular. During the intervening eight years, the landscape of sources available for studying this and many other facets of the Counter-Reformation has altered dramatically. The opening in early 1998 of the Archive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has enabled scholars to explore what remains of the Congregation of the Holy Office's holdings, as well as the relatively complete archives of the Congregation of the Index and the Inquisition of Siena. They have produced an avalanche of publications that promise to transform our understanding of the framing of policy in Rome and efforts to implement it across the Italian peninsula and beyond-a topic highly relevant to assessments of the Church's impact on Italian society over the long term. Naturally, most of this work is in Italian. Its transformative potential will be realized only if more historians master that "minority" language and at least some Italian historians' publications are issued in translation.

While conducting research for her 1997 book, Fragnito was given extraordinary access to a few documents of the Congregation of the Index (established in 1572). In this one, she has been able to use the full range of extant materials produced by that body and its elder sister, the Congregation of the Holy Office (founded in 1542), two groups of which are especially important. Minutes of the congregations' meetings reveal what problems the cardinal-members dealt with and how they resolved them. The minutes also yield abundant evidence buttressing a contention enunciated before 1998 by Fragnito and Massimo Firpo: that from the mid-sixteenth century on, the Congregation of the Holy Office managed to impose its intransigent agenda not only on the Congregation of the Index but also on successive popes. …

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