The Protestant Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Italy

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

13
CALVINSM IN LOMBARDY AND THE VALTELLINA

CALVIN'S MAGISTERIUM

IN AUGUST 1557, urged on by his brethren in the Italian exiles' church in Geneva, Giulio Cesare Pascali, a refugee from Messina, published his Italian translation, the first into that language, of Calvin Institutes of the Christian religion.1 In his dedication to Gian Galeazzo Caracciolo, the translator claimed that his effort was the earliest and principal instrument "for understanding the renascent Gospel message," which after Scripture, would be as eternal "as the ink with which it is written." The work had been fervently requested by his fellow evangelicals so that they might "see the kingdon of Jesus Christ progress in our Italy."2

From the 1550s forward the list of Calvinist titles confiscated in the peninsula from individuals and booksellers grew dramatically. The Institutes, in the Latin editions of 1536 and 1539, as well as in the French versions of 1541 and later years, was the reformer's most widely circulated work and enjoyed a large readership. After 1557 these earlier imprints would be joined by Pascali's beautiful and lucid translation, based on the French text. The Genevan reformer's magnum opus played a crucial role in the religious education of Protestants in Italy and became the preferred guide to Scripture for new converts. A group of evangelicals at Grosseto and Siena, brought together in 1544 by the physician Achille Benvoglienti, possessed a copy of the Instituzione, and at least one other work by Calvin. "That book was kept in a room, and each person could borrow it in turn." "I do not believe I am wrong," continued the

____________________
1
Pascali's remained the only Italian translation until the recent one by G. Tourn, based on the 1559- 1560 edition: Istituzione della religione cristiana..., 2 vols. ( Turin: UTET, 1971; 2d ed., 1983).
2
Instituzione della religion christiana di messer Giovanni Calvino: In volgare italiano tradotta per Giulio Cesar P[aschali], Geneva, Appresso J. Burgese, A. Davodeo e F. Iacchì [Bourgeois, Davodeau et Jaquy], 1557. It is dedicated to Galeazzo Caracciolo.

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