The Protestant Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Italy

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

The return from Roman imprisonment of family members who had been arrested by the Dominican Malvicino served as the most efficacious instrument of persuasion. To return from Rome safe and sound seemed almost a miracle in itself! Another great tool had been the concession, obtained from the church reluctantly, to exonerate the reconciled from wearing the yellow penitential garment, a symbol of infamy. The penalties were reduced to freedom of movement under surveillance, fasting, prayer, and other salutary penances.

Alongside this work of spiritual reclamation, the Jesuits lovingly and conscientiously performed a great pastoral mission, instructing children between the ages of seven and fourteen and assisting the beleaguered peasants to appeal against onerous and unjust taxation. Waldensians released from Roman prisons who had converted to Catholic allegiance, such as Giovanni Ghigo, Giovanni Selvaggiato, and Lorenzo Mandone, expressed regret when Rodriguez left them. His mission brought 400 persons to espouse the Roman faith at Volturara, 270 at Montecorvino, 190 at Monteleone and Montaguto, 520 at Celle and Faeto. But all this was accomplished only with strenuous effort. A year and a half of intense activity concluded with about 1,500 conversions to the church. No one else was sent to Rome. The Catholicization of the Waldensians was accomplished skillfully through a policy of moderation, so moderate, in fact, that it has been forgotten even by historians of southern Italy.


BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

For the Inquisition in the Kingdom of Naples, the old work by L. Amabile, Il Santo Officio della Inquisizione in Napoli, 2 vols. (Città di Castello: S. Lapi, 1892), remains fundamental, usefully complemented by G. Coniglio, Il regno di Napoli al tempo di Carlo V ( Naples: E.S.I., 1951).

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