The Protestant Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Italy

By Salvatore Caponetto; Anne C. Tedeschi et al. | Go to book overview

which Valdesian and Lutheran teachings reached the island. This general of the Capuchins, one of the great preachers of the century, in 1536 in the church of the monastery of San Giovanni Maggiore at Naples, gave a series of Lenten sermons that even moved Charles V, homeward bound from his victorious Tunisian expedition. Ochino returned to preach in Naples in 1539 and again in 1540. It was said, among the followers of Valdés, that the master furnished him with the subjects the night before that he would treat in his sermon the next day. Ochino's preaching, simply couched and deeply felt, spread the great themes of grace, faith, and works among the common people. They had an impact and were discussed in the street, and in the marketplaces for days after. Ochino's fame spread to Sicily, and in 1537 Viceroy Don Ferrante Gonzaga attempted in vain to invite him to Palermo. A second invitation was extended to Ochino in 1539. On 2 May the baron of Burgio wrote to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese in the hope of obtaining the preacher for the following Lenten season, so that "each one of us by his life and example may become like a Capuchin in his own person."24

When Bernardino finally visited Palermo and Messina in 1540, he was already suspected of Lutheranism. Among Sicilians, easily moved to enthusiasm, obsessed even when concealing it, with human destiny and the afterlife, the words of the great proselytizer of the "benefit of Christ," of salvation as the gift of Christ, must have provoked a profound impression.25 Along with the preaching of the Augustinians and the Minims of the order of San Francesco di Paola, Valdesians were among the first to bring the teachings of Luther to Sicily.


BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

J. C. Nieto's cited work contains a vast bibliography on Valdés. A survey of the most recent studies can be consulted in A. Aubert, "Valdesianesimo ed evangelismo italiano: Alcuni studi recenti," RSCI 41 ( 1987): 152-75. M. Firpo Tra Alumbrados e "spirituali": Studi su Juan de Valdés e il valdesianesimo nella crisi religiosa del '500 italiano ( Florence: Olschki, 1990), is a comprehensive analysis of the influence exercised by the thought of Valdés. See also Juan de Valdés, Alfabeto cristiano, a cura di A. Prosperi ( Rome: Istituto storico italiano per l'età moderna e contemporanea, 1988); idem, Il dialogo della dottrina cristiana ( 1529) a cura di T Fanio y Cortes ( Turin: Claudiana, 1991), containing in appendix an edition of the brief catechism, Qual maniera si devrebbe tenere a informare [...] ( 1545?); and the new edition of the Alfabeto cristiano, a cura di Massimo Firpo ( Turin: Einaudi, 1994).

For G. Gonzaga and the relevant bibliography, cf. B. Nicolini, "Giulia Gonzaga e la crisi del Valdesianesimo," in Nicolini Ideali e passioni nell'Italia religiosa del Cinquecento ( Bologna: Palmaverde, 1962), 79-102.

____________________
24
See my biographical sketch in DBI, 15:19.
25
For B. Ochino, see R. H. Bainton, Bernardino Ochino, esule e riformatore del Cinquecento ( Florence: Sansoni, 1940).

-74-

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