*** Notes for Today’s Show ***
It is the 23rd of May 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I’m Dan van Voorhis.
Today I am going to tell you the story of one of the more colorful characters in all of the 15th century Italy. A time is known as the Quattrocento for Italians in the high renaissance. Of course, there is no “Italy” and so we will focus our attention on Florence.
And it is here that we find the sui generis Girolamo Savonarola. He was famous for bonfires, unfortunately, the last one held in his honor was literally held in his honor. He was arrested and put to death on the 23rd of May in 1498. His bones and ashes had to be collected and secretly disposed of such that his followers wouldn’t create relics from his remains.
So, how did he get here? Let’s start at the beginning.
Born in 1452, tutored in the medieval style by his learned Grandfather.
Goes on to study medicine and the liberal arts.
In 1475 he had something of a “godly fit” and decided to abandon his career trajectory for the Dominican Order (in Bologna)
1482 Appointed lecturer at the Convent of San Marco
1487 Named Master of General Studies at Bologna
Known as an academic but also as an orator and preacher. Soon he is invited to Florence under Lorenzo De Medici, and this is when everything goes south.
Within a few years, Lorenzo dies and the Medici power is weakened. This leads to the invasion of Charles VIII of France. Did Savonarola predict this? Savonarola begs that Charles spare the city and it will become a godly republic, a new Rome and Jerusalem, etc…
The short lives Christian Republic of Florence dedicated to the reformation f the church and Italy.
Downfall: the Duke of Milan and the Pope wanted Florence and Savonarola to join the Holy League against the King of France. When Savs rejected it, becomes a local here (to some), preaches hellfire and brimstone, pout under the ban, keeps preaching… you know how this goes.
Moralist (overemphasis on sex, a bonfire of the vanities)
The call for Reform (Luther praised some of his work)
A democratic republic (Machiavelli praised some of his work)
He tends to be vilified, and not for bad reasons. But he also represents the reforming spirit that DID NOT come out of anywhere in the 16th c. His ideas about a renewal of the church and a democratic republic instead of autocracy were pretty boffo, but they are hard to square with theocratic moralism… born in 1452 Girolamo Savonarola was 46 when he died on this, the 23rd of May in 1498.
The last word for today comes from the Gospel of Mark. We join the story in media res, in the 4th chapter
“37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?””
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 23rd of May 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by the proud son of West Lafayette, Indiana in Tippecanoe County, Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis, University High School class of 97.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.