Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Aut Numquid Post Annos Mille Quingentos Docenda Est Ecclesia Catholica Quomodo Sacrae Imagines Pingantur?/post-Tridentine Image Reform and the Myth of Gabriele Paleotti

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Aut Numquid Post Annos Mille Quingentos Docenda Est Ecclesia Catholica Quomodo Sacrae Imagines Pingantur?/post-Tridentine Image Reform and the Myth of Gabriele Paleotti

Article excerpt

The author attempts, by considering publication data and Gabriele Paleotti's failed Discorso intorno alle imagini sacre e profane, to con- tribute to the further nuancing and remapping of the Catholic Reformation, via analysis of image reform. Evidence suggests that the Council of Trent, Rome, or the Curia were not perceived as ini- tiating image reform; in fact, by 1600 some Catholic leaders regarded all three as reformatory failures. Publication data and the travesty of the Discorso bespeak the initial acentric, reactionary nature ofpost-Tridentine image reform, evoking an image of Rome and the Curia in which dissent held sway, even amongst purported figureheads of reform.

Keywords: Catholic Reformation; Christian art; Council of Trent; Paleotti, Cardinal Gabriele

An analysis of publication data and the circumstances of the never- finished but now-famous Discorso intorno alle imagini sacre e pro- fane (Discourse on Sacred and Profane Images) by Gabriele Paleotti, then archbishop of Bologna,1 can shed further light on the Catholic Reformation, following in the footsteps of Paolo Prodi and Simon Ditchfield.2 The story of the Discorso and its broader circumstances paints a vividly diverse picture of post-Tridentine image reform within the Church and across Italy as inherently multilateral and fractured, with Rome and the Curia divided into factions that placed even purported figureheads of reform at odds.3 The evidence considered herein suggests that the papal city and the Curia itself were subject to Catholic communal "localities"-religious orders and congregations such as the Oratorians and Jesuits-and intercurial factions embroiled in their own "process of feedback and arbitration," hermeneutically on par with geographically peripheral localities such as Piacenza and Bologna.4 Indeed, Trent's immediate, first-generation implementation occurred at the local level, with the pontiff and the Curia as ultimate exegetists and enforcers.5 However, some frustrated reformers like Paleotti were discouraged by what they perceived as not only a lack of comprehensive reform but also a lack of corresponding curial reform effort in Rome. By 1600, increasingly assertive members of the Curia began exercising an acentric, reactionary prerogative, sometimes appropriating and repromulgating isolated, local reforms (such as seizing upon certain of Paleotti's demands for increased iconographie regulation); sometimes denouncing implicit or explicit criticisms of curial policy or practice; and sometimes censuring isolated reform activities outright, even when generated by members of the Curia. By 1600, the Master of the Sacred Palace mandated that he must approve every printed image before publication.6 Concurrent to the Clementine Curia's increased regulation of all kinds of printed images through the occasionally conflicting powers of the Congregation of the Index and the Master of the Sacred Palace, the pope and various congregations also devoted greater scrutiny and censorial activity to broader regulation of all sacred images, printed or otherwise.7 The argument and evidence presented here may refute the interpretation that post-Tridentine ecclesiastics, including those in the Curia, shared the view that "Rome had begun that reform, only Rome could 'save' it"8; or the implicit model of post-Tridentine reform, whereby a "center-periphery" paradigm is eschewed, yet still posits Rome as source.9 In the case of image reform, discord, not consensus, seems to have been the order of the day.10 This may beg the following questions: If the ostensible center of post-Tridentine reform, constituted by the spatial and theo-political territory of the Roman Curia, is in fact composed of multiple fractured factions, can a center be said to exist? In addition, if the conventional centralized paradigm of postTridentine reform is imploded, what sort of interpretive model should scholars employ? Can Rome and the Curia be regarded as having precedence, without centrality? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.