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THE famous preacher S. Bernardino of Siena
was the most prominent figure in the religious
life of Italy during the early Renaissance, and
was also the chief instrument in restoring, through the
Strict Observance movement, the purity of the Fran-
ciscan Order, of which he may be styled the Second
Founder. This book is an attempt to portray the man,
and his achievements in both these characters. Since
the appearance in 1896 of the Life of S. Bernardino by
that eminent man of letters the late M. Paul Thureau-
Dangin, a great deal of fresh information concerning
the Saint has been brought to light, which is here for
the first time made available for the English reader.
The present volume also embodies the results of a com-
plete examination of the large number of documents
relating to S. Bernardino preserved in the R. Archivio
di Stato at Siena, and of a careful study of the important
writings of his opponent, Fr. Andrea de' Bigli, in the
Biblioteca Ambrosiana at Milan. These sources have
never been fully utilized before. In the case of the
former, I am under the most particular obligations to
that learned and distinguished writer, Cav. Dott. Nar-
ciso Mengozzi, who not only placed at my disposal
the fruits of his own previous researches, but was of
essential service to me in the prosecution of mine ; and
I gladly take this opportunity to offer him those due
and heartfelt thanks which I could hardly persuade him
to receive from me in person. From Comm. Lisini, the




learned director of the above-named Archivio and his
able assistants, as well as from the officials in charge of
the Biblioteca Comunale at Siena, and the Rev. Fathers
of the Ambrosiana at Milan I also received the most
courteous attention, and gladly return them my best
thanks for their kindness. In the vv^riting of this book
I have also enjoyed the advantage of the constant help,
advice, and criticism of Mr. William Heywood, whose
name as an authority on mediaeval Italy is as well
known in that country as in this. For his kind assistance,
rendered in ways too various to particularize, I am quite
unable to express my gratitude in any adequate manner.
I am indebted to my wife for the drawing and colouring
(according to S. Bernardino's directions) of the Y H S
Monogram reproduced as the frontispiece, and to my
niece Miss F. C. Biddulph for the photographs of a
friar of the Strict Observance and the Hospital of S.
Maria della Scala facing pages 60, 90.

A few words about the plan and contents of the
book may be conveniently added here. I soon found
that it was absolutely necessary, in order to make S.
Bernardino's life and work intelligible, to relate in some
detail the story of the origin and progress of the Strict
Observance movement within the Franciscan Order ;
both because this subject has been very inadequately
handled by the Saint's biographers, and because there
are, so far as I am aware, no English books dealing
with it. This, accordingly, is the theme of the first
chapter, entitled "From S. Francis to S. Bernardino" ;
and I have there carried the narrative of the movement
down to the death of the Saint in 1444, and included in
it that part of his biography which concerns his doings
as Vicar-general over the Observant friars in Italy from
1438 till 1442. The rest of his life-story is contained
in chapter 11. An account of the fifteenth century bio-


graphics of the Saint, the primary sources of our know-
ledge of his life, will be found in Appendix I.

In my account of the works of S. Bernardino in
chapters iii. and iv. I have discussed as fully as the
space at my disposal allowed, not only the vernacular
sermons of which authentic reports have come down to
us, but the numerous and elaborate sermon-treatises in
Latin on which the Saint's renown as a theologian
is based.

Lastly, in chapter v., Mrs. Ady has treated com-
prehensively of the new and attractive subject of S.
Bernardino in Art.

A. G. F. H.

August, 1913.



Preface v

List of Illustrations xi

Memorandum of Abbreviations ..... xiii


I. From S. Francis to S. Bernardino .
II. The Life of S. Bernardino ....

III. The Sermons of S. Bernardino

IV. The Minor Works of S. Bernardino
V. S. Bernardino in Art [by Julia Cartwright (Mrs






I. The Fifteenth Century Biographies of S. Bernard-
ino 35°

II. On the Dates of the Composition of S. Bernardino's

Sermons 354

III. Passages from S. Bernardino's Writings tending to


IV. Unpublished Letter from Fr. Andrea de' Bigli to

S. Bernardino 35^

V. Letter from S. Bernardino preserved among the

Relics at the Church of La Verna . . 360

Index 3^1


The Y H S Monogram as Devised by S. Bernardino . Frontispiece


A Friar of the Strict Observance , . . . 6o

Portrait of S. Bernardino. By Sano di Pietro, in the

Palazzo Pubblico, Siena ...... 84

From a Photograph by Lomhardi, Siena (No. 512).

Hospital of S. Maria della Scala, Siena ... 90

S. Bernardino and S. Antony of Padua. By Andrea

Mantegna, at the Basilica of II Santo, Padua . .126

From a Photograph by Anderson, Rome.

S. Bernardino Healing a Boy gored by a Bull. By

Fiorenzo di Lorenzo, in the Pinacoteca Vannucci, Perugia 1 34

From a Photograph by Alinari, Florence.

The Destruction of Fonte Tenta. (Predella of the Picture
of the Madonna protecting the Magistrates of Arezzo.
By Neri di Bicci, in the Pinacoteca at Arezzo) , .140

From a Photograph by Alinari, Florence.

Facsimile of Autograph Letter from S. Bernardino to
Francesco Marchi. (Biblioteca Comunale, Siena, Cod.

T. m, 3) 170

The Burial of S. Bernardino. By Bernardino Pintoricchio,

in the Church of S. Maria in Aracoeli, Rome . . .208

From a Photograph by Drogi, Florence.

Head of S. Bernardino. By Lorenzo Vecchietta, in the

Palazzo Palmieri-Nuti, Siena . . . . • .218

From a Photograph by Lombardi, Siena (Xo. 2853).



The Piazza del Campo, Siena ...... 280

From a Photograph by Lombardi, Siena [^No. 497).

Portrait of S. Bernardino. By Pietro di Giovanni

Ambossi, in the Convent of L'Osservanza, Siena. . 328

From a Photograph by Lombardi , Siena (No, 2925).

S. Bernardino Preaching outside the Church of S.
Francesco, Siena. By Sano di Pietro, in the Chapter-
house of the Cathedral, Siena ..... 330

From a Photograph by Alinari, Florence.

Altar-piece. By Parri Spinello and Andrea della Robbia, at

S. Maria delle Grazie, Arezzo . . . . • 334

From a Photograph by Alinari, Florence.

S. Bernardino in Glory. From the Front of the Oratory

of S. Bernardino at Perugia, by Agostino Duccio . . 342

From a Photograph by Alinari, Florence.

The Glorification of S. Bernardino. By Bernardino
Pintoricchio, in the Church of S. Maria in AracoeH,
Rome 348

From a Photograph by Brogi, Florence.


= •' Acta Sanctorum " ; Martii III and Maii IV, VI ; Venice,
1740; Octobris X, Brussels, 1861.

= "Analecta Bollandiana " ; Brussels.

= "Analecta Franciscana, seu Chronica aliaque varia
documenta ad historiam Fratrum Minorum spec-
tantia," edita a patribus Collegii S. Bonaventuras ;
Quaracchi, presso Firenze.

= "Archivum Franciscanum Historicum " ; Quaracchi.

= F. Aiessio, " Storia di S. Bernardino da Siena e del suo
tempo"; Mondovi, iSqg.

= Padre Amadio Maria da Venezia, "Vita di S. Bernardino
da Siena," Venice, 1744; Siena, 1854.

= "Archiv fiir Literatur-und Kirchengeschichte des Mit-
telalters," herausgegeben von H. Denifle und F.
Ehrle, Berlin, Weidmann, 1885-7; Freiburg im
Breisgau, Herder, 1888,

I Ceiano, 2 Celano =P. Eduardus Alenconiensls, "S. Francisci Assisiensis
Vita et Miracula, auctore Fr. Thoma de Celano,"
Rome, Desclee, Lefebvre et Soc. 1906; and "The
Lives of S. Francis of Assisi by Brother Thomas of
* Celano," translated by A. G. Ferrers Howell ;
London, Methuen & Co., igoS. (The references are
to the numbered paragraphs in the original and the
translation cited.)







M. & D.


= Dr. Karl Hefele, " Der HI. Bernhardin von Siena und
die Franzischkanische Wanderpredigt in Italien
wahrend des xv Jahrhunderts " ; Freiburg im Breis-
gau, 1912.

= Martene and Durand, " Veterum Scriptorum et Monu-
mentorum amplissima collectio"; Paris, 1724.

= " Miscellanea Francescana," ed. D. Michele Faloci-
Pulignani ; Foligno, 1886-1912.




= G. Olmi, " L'Apostolo d'ltalia nel secolo xiv, ossia, Vita
popolare di S. Bernardino da Siena " ; Siena, 1888.

Opera, or Opera S.B. = " S. Bernardini Senensis Opera Omnia," ed. J. De la
Haye ; Venice, 1745. (This is the latest edition of
S. Bernardino's Latin works. The earlier editions
are those printed at Venice, 1591, Paris, 1636, and
Lyons, 1650. All are now extremely rare.)

Pred. Volg. = Luciano Banchi, " Le Prediche Volgari di S. Bernardino

da Siena"; Siena, 1880-88.

Ronzoni =D. Domenico Ronzoni, " L'eloquenza di S. Bernardino

da Siena e della sua scuola " ; Siena, 1899.

Vita ex Surio =The "VitaS. Bernardini" in Laurentius Surius, " His-

toriae seu Vitae Sanctorum," V, 618-59, Turin,
1876; also in vol. I of "Opera S.B." (See below
Appendix I, p. 351.) (Surius' "Historia;" first
appeared in 1570).

Wadding = Lucas Wadding, " Annales Minorum," 2nd ed. ; Rome,



The statement on page 41 that William of Ockham "had had a
hand in the protests of the Perugian Chapter " needs correction.
Fr. Johannes Hofer in his valuable " Biographische Studien iiber
Wilhelm von Ockham," now appearing in the " Archivum Fran-
ciscanum Historicum " (Ann. vi, pp. 439 ff.) gives good reasons
for believing that it was not till near six years later, in 1328, that
Ockham took any active part in opposing the decretals of Pope
John XXII.



EVEN before the end of its great Founder's life, the
condition of the Franciscan Order had under-
gone a profound change. The little band who
had sheltered in hovels round the tiny chapel of Porti-
uncula near Assisi had become a vast and rather unruly
host. The mere increase in their numbers had made
large convents necessary, at least in populous places,
however S. Francis might dislike them ; and in any
case the stern life of renunciation which he had lived
was beyond the strength of a multitude to endure.
Moreover the many learned men who entered the Order
in S. Francis's later years and afterwards, greatly altered
its character. Such men, intent on the study of theo-
logical problems, and entering with ardour into the
discussions which illuminated the golden age of the
Scholastic philosophy, could not afford to spend their
time in tending lepers and begging their bread from
door to door, as S. Francis and his first companions had
done. Cardinal Ugolino, who at the Saint's own re-
quest had been appointed Protector of the Order, per-
ceived, as has been well said, that the new fabric was
built on an insecure foundation ; and if he aimed lower
than S, Francis, his reasoning was sounder. Accord-
ingly his policy, both before and after his accession to
the Papacy in 1227 as Gregory IX, was based, not on
a visionary ideal, but on the actual state of things ; and


was directed to the welding of the Order into a powerful
organization for the support of the Church.

But before reviewing the great struggle, which lasted
for about lOO years after S. Francis's death, between
the Zealots or Spirituals, who clung to the Saint's ideal,
and the Conventuals, as the main body of the friars were
called, we must turn our eyes back to the strange figure
of the Abbot Joachim (i 168-1202) who may be termed
the evil ofenius of the Franciscan Order. He was born
in Calabria, and after travelling about in Palestine, pur-
posed to devote himself to preaching ; but finally became
a Cistercian monk and spent the rest of his life in biblical
study, and in the production of a remarkable scheme of
apocalyptic exposition of which a brief outline will pre-
sently be given. He gathered a band of disciples round
him, founded an abbey at Fiore in Calabria, and a new
Order (the Florensian) which was approved by Pope
Celestine III in 1196 : at Fiore he died in 1202.^ His
chief undoubted works are: (i) "Concordia Novi ac
Veteris Testamenti," (2) " Apocalypsis Nova," or Com-
mentary on the Apocalypse with two Introductions, (3)
" Psalterium Decem Chordarum," or Ten-stringed
Psaltery.^ Though in the scheme of world-history de-
duced by Joachim from the Bible and expounded in
these writings there is a good deal of confusion and
obscurity in the details, and the main theme is overlaid

^ For further details concerning Joachim see Tocco, " L'eresia
nel medio evo " (Florence, 1884), pp. 263 ff., Fournier, "Etudes
sur Joachim de Flore" (Paris, 1909), and E. G. Gardner, "Joachim
of Flora" in "Franciscan Essays" (Aberdeen University Press,
1912), 50 ff.

2 For an account of the MSS. of these and other works of
Joachim, also probably genuine, see Denifle, "Das Evangelium
Aeternum und die Commission zu Anagni" in "Archiv," I, 91 ff. ;
also Huck, "Ubertin von Casale," 74 ff. (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1903).
The "Concordia" was printed at Venice in 15 19, and the "Apo-
calypsis " and " Psalterium "in 1527.


with a bewildering complication of allegory, yet his funda-
mental idea is simple enough. It is, that there are three
Epochs in the history of the world from the Creation to
the Last Judgment during which the world is under the
successive special government of the three Persons of the
Trinity, each Epoch being marked by its own char-
acteristics, and each forming a stage in the progress of
the world toward the final consummation of all things.
The scheme is most easily grasped when set out in
tabular form, as thus : —

T-. T- 1 ! Abraham
First Epoch Q . /U22iah^


Third Epoch

S. Benedict

A.D. 1 200 (Joachim)

A.D. 1260

Second Epoch

A.D. 1260

The End of the World
The Epochs overlap, because during the first Epoch the
time of preparation for the second had already begun, ^
starting from the time of Ozias, whose transgression
marked the beginning of the Order of Priesthood ; and
similarly the preparatory period for the third Epoch
started with S. Benedict (the founder of Monasticism) ;
and the period of fulfilment, or " fructification," begun in
the time of Joachim himself, was to attain its completion
in or about 1 260, and was to continue till the end of the
world ; the concluding years of the second Epoch
(1200-60) being signalized by wars and various calamities,
especially the coming of Antichrist. Joachim arrived at
the date of 1260 by an elaborate computation of the

^ In the first Epoch the preparatory period lasted from Adam to
Abraham, when the time of "fructification" began and continued
till the coming of Christ. See passage from "Concordia" quoted in
Tocco, "L'eresia," 375, n. i.


number of generations from Adam downward (see
Tocco, op. cit., 334-52), but he expressly states that it is
merely approximate, and that it is not his business to
" know or to tell the number of the days " {ib., 295, n. i).
The first Epoch ^ was that of the government of the
Father ; the second, that of the government of the Son ;
the third, that of the government of the Holy Ghost.
In the first Epoch men lived under the rigour of the
Law (Epoch of slavery and fear) ; in the second, they
lived under Grace (Epoch of filial service and of faith) ;
in the third they live under Fullness of Grace (Epoch of
liberty and of love). In the first Epoch the Letter (i.e.
Scripture) of the Old Testament ruled ; in the second,
that of the New Testament, while in the third there
would be vouchsafed the Spiritual Understanding of the
Gospel ; and this Spiritual Understanding was what
Joachim understood by the term Everlasting Gospel
{Evangelium Aeternum).^ The first Epoch was that of
Married People ; for therein the Levites were married
people, begetting children and careful about worldly
goods. The second Epoch is that of Priests, for therein
the Ministers of the Lord are forbidden, save exception-
ally, to marry ; but they still live in contact with human
society, and with lay-folk, which tends to corrupt them.
The third Epoch is that of Monks, for therein the Min-
isters of the Lord are under strict discipline, caring
only for heaven, and passing their lives in prayer and

It is astonishing that Joachim's writings did not im-
mediately encounter the Church's condemnation ; for a
mere glance at the sketch just given of his scheme of

^ The ensuing explanation is founded on Tocco, op. cit., 374-6,
and passages from the " Concordia " there quoted.

2 See Denifle in "Archiv," I, 52 ff. Cf. below, p. 11. On S.
Bernardino's understanding of the phrase and his attitude towards
Joachim see below, ch. 111. 233-4; iv. 307-8.


world-history shows how irreconcilable it was with a
continuance of the existing Church government. Al-
ready the " fructification " of the third Epoch had begun,
and, though Joachim said indeed that the Church of
Peter " which is the throne of Christ " was not to fail,
but to be " transformed into greater glory, and to re-
main fixed for ever,"^ yet, since the sole ministers of
the New Dispensation were to be an Order of Monks
living the life of contemplation, and destined " to rule
from sea to sea, and from the River unto the world's
end " ; the delicate question at once arose. What was to
be the function of the Pope in the new order of things,
and what place would be found for the manifold activity
of the Curia ? The difficulty was evidently perceived
by Joachim, for he attempted to deal with it, and cast
about for a part to assign to the Pope in the Third or
Spiritual Epoch. He could think of nothing better
than the part of the aged Symeon. " Symeon," he
says, "shall as it were take up the child into his arms
when Peter's successors (to whom has been given the
prerogative of the faith, and discernment between holy
and profane) beholding that Order which follows in the
footprints of Christ, shall sustain it in spiritual power
by the protection of their authority, and confirm it by
the words of their testimony, proclaiming that in it the
utterances of the Prophets are to be fulfilled."^ And
again :^ "the Shunamite woman, who was joined to
David, but did not conceive by him, shall be a certain
new Religion which shall be altogether free and spiritual,
wherein the Roman Pontiffs, having secured the peace of
the Church, shall be comprised (se continebunt) ". That
is to say, the Pope is to usher in the new Order of
Monks and then stand aside, or be absorbed into it. The

^ "Protocol of the Commission of Anagni," 94b (" Archiv," I,
109, no).

2 "Protocol," cited 95a ("Archiv," I, in).
"^ lb., 94b ("Archiv," I, 109).


question became still more delicate when the Zealot
Franciscans claimed that the Dominicans and them-
selves, and especially themselves, actually were the new
Order foretold by Joachim.

However, in spite of their revolutionary tendency,
Joachim's principal writings escaped condemnation,
though his reputation for orthodoxy remained precari-
ous, partly because of his misunderstanding of Peter
Lombard's exposition of the doctrine of the Trinity,
which led him to write a treatise against it that was
condemned by the Lateran Council of 1 2 1 5 ; partly be-
cause of the unscrupulous use of his name made by the
Franciscan Zealots.^ It is important as well as interest-
ing to note that from Joachim we pass direct to the
Zealot Franciscans, who seized with avidity on his writ-
ings ; for there is no trace of Joachism in S. Francis him-
self He, with all his leaning to mysticism, had a fund
of shrewd common sense that kept him from being beguiled
by such a will-o'-the-wisp as Joachim's Antichrist.

The Zealots, not content with Joachim's authentic
works, fathered on him a number of spurious works in
which, as has been well said, they crossed the t's and
dotted the i's of their prototype, and, moreover, distorted
his teaching. Thus in the spurious commentary on
Jeremiah (which, like the equally spurious commentary
on Isaiah was composed by the Zealots in the middle of
the thirteenth century), Joachim is made to foretell the
coming of two Orders, to express the difference in their
habit and to speak of the Pope and Cardinals as afflicting
the "preachers that do not lie," i.e. the Zealot friars.^

Turning now to the struggle between the Zealots
and the Conventuals, it will be well first of all to refer to

^ Huck, op. cit., 82, 83.

^ /^., 104, n. I. Cf. Tocco, " L'eresia," 307, n. i; 450, n. i-
There are, however, passages in Joachim's authentic works from
which a vague anticipation on his part of two new Orders might be
inferred. See Fournier, op. cit., 44-46, and cf. E. G. Gardner,
"Dante and the Mystics" (Dent, 191 3), 189- 191.


the Rule of S. Francis ^ whereby the friars of his Order
were legally bound, and to his Testament, whereby they
were morally bound. By the Rule, their life was de-
clared to be the observing of the Gospel of our Lord
Jesus Christ by living in obedience, without anything
of their own {sine proprio), and in chastity. They were
strictly enjoined by no means to receive coin or money
directly or indirectly {per se vel per interpositani per-
sonani), and they were forbidden to appropriate to them-
selves any house, place (i.e. convent), or any other thing.
In the Testament, they were bidden to beware of re-
ceiving the churches, the poor dwellings, and anything
else that was constructed (or, according to another read-
ing, " appointed ") for them, unless these buildings were
such as befitted the holy poverty they had promised to
observe ; and they were to dwell therein as strangers and
pilgrims. Furthermore they were emphatically com-
manded never to apply for any letter from the Papal
Court on any pretext whatsoever, not even to shelter
themselves from persecution,^ Finally the friars were
most solemnly charged to put no glosses either on the
Rule or on the Testament, but to take them "simply
and purely, even as the Lord granted me (Francis) to
utter and write them simply and purely ".

It was round these documents that the controversy
was to rage, the Zealots maintaining that they must be
observed in literal strictness ; the Conventuals, that such
observance was impossible in the actual state of things,
and that some relaxation was inevitable. On 28
September, 1230, barely four years after S. Francis's

^ i.e. The Rule as confirmed by Honorius III on 29 November,
1223. It will be found in " Opuscula S. Francisci " (ed. Quaracchi),
pp. 63 ff. The Testament is in the same vol. (77 ff.).

2 Papal privileges had already been obtained for the Order in
S. Francis's lifetime ("Archiv," III, 570). On the necessity for
such privileges, see Ehrlc's observations (//'.).


death, Pope Gregory IX issued the Bull Quo elongatia
scBculo^ which takes the form of a reply to a number of
doubtful points concerning the Testament and the Rule
which had been submitted to his decision by the Minister-
general of the Order (John Parenti) and other delegates
from the Chapter-general, in consequence of stormy dis-
cussions between the two parties. In the first place,
the Pope declared that the Testament was not binding,
because it had not been assented to by the friars at large
and especially by the Provincial Ministers ; and because in
any case S. Francis could not bind his successor. This
declaration was essential, for the Pope could not proceed
to put glosses on the Rule, or to explain any doubtful

Online LibraryA. G. Ferrers (Alan George Ferrers) HowellS. Bernardino of Siena → online text (page 1 of 35)