The Protestant Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Italy

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

erroneous doctrines he had professed. He was sentenced to serve ten years on the royal galleys, to be followed by life in prison.

After languishing for a year in the galley of Cesare La Torre, he addressed a petition to the Inquisition which succinctly but lucidly explained his faith. He stated that he had tried to repress his Calvinist beliefs more than once, but they continued to fester in his inner being and now he was resolved to profess them openly. He voiced his dismay at the corruption in Sicilian churches and society, sentiments that had been voiced by defendants in many trials before his own, but which cropped up now with renewed vehemence directed against the ecclesiastical hierarchy and the parasitism of the monastic orders, which with their idleness, carnal vices, greed, robberies, seizure of the very "bread out of the mouths of abandoned orphans, waifs and widows" offended the divine Majesty, and provoked it to castigate the world. Bruto lashed out against masses for the dead, a flagrant merchandising conducted by the papacy to the detriment of the poor. Finally, concerning the sacrament of the Eucharist, he affirmed that the host was "the pure bread presented to ignorant people in memory of the bitter Passion of Jesus Christ." On 10 July 1590, Bruto was condemned to death, but the sentence was carried out only a year later, on 28 October 1591. The interval was consumed by theologians and confessors attempting relentlessly to persuade him to recant his errors. But as the compiler of the Serie dei rilasciati wrote,36 Bruto was determined to pay with his life "for Luther," and went bravely to his fate. He may have drawn strength from the case, which he had recounted at his first trial, of the Lutheran preacher who had been condemned to death in Rome and refused to abjure even on the scaffold, a martyrdom that Bruto could have witnessed personally and which would have remained indelibly fixed in his mind.


BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Much useful information and an exhaustive documentation can be found in J. Tedeschi , "The Cultural Contributions of Italian Protestant Reformers in the Late Renaissance," in Libri, idee e sentimenti religiosi nel Cinquecento italiano, ed. A. Prosperi and A. Biondi ( Ferrara & Modena: Edizioni Panini, 1987), 81-108. [A revised, corrected, and expanded Italian version appeared in Italica 64 ( 1987): 19-61. Trans. note.]

____________________
36
Serie dei di rilasciati, n. 321.

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