John the Baptist 27 AD "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:2) 27 AD "Who warned you to flee from the wrath about to come?" (Matthew 3:7) 27 AD "The axe is already laid at the root of the trees." (Matthew 3:10) 27 AD "His winnowing fork is in His hand." (Matthew 3:12) 27 AD "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17) 27 AD "The kingdom of God is at hand." (Mark 1:15) 27 AD “Who warned you to flee from the wrath about to come?” (Luke 3:7) 27 AD “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees. " (Luke 3:9) 27 AD "His winnowing fork is in His hand…." (Luke 3:17) Jesus the Christ 28 AD "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 10:7) 28 AD "You shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes." (Matthew 10:23) 28 AD "....the age about to come." (Matthew 12:32) 28 AD “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” (Luke 10:9) 28 AD “The kingdom of God has come near.” (Luke 10:11) 30 AD "The Son of Man is about to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his deeds." (Matthew 16:27) 30 AD "There are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." (Matthew 16:28; cf. Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27) 30 AD "'When the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?' '....He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers, who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.' '....Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.' ....When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them." (Matthew 21:40-41,43,45) 30 AD "This generation will not pass away until all these things take place." (Matthew 24:34) 30 AD "From now on, you [Caiaphas, the chief priests, the scribes, the elders, the whole Sanhedrin] shall be seeing the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69) 30 AD "What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vine-growers, and will give the vineyard to others. ....They [the chief priests, scribes and elders] understood that He spoke the parable against them." (Mark 12:9,12) 30 AD "This generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Mark 13:30) 30 AD “What, therefore, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others." …The scribes and the chief priests …understood that He spoke this parable against them.” (Luke 20:15-16,19) 30 AD “These are days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:22) 30 AD "This generation will not pass away until all things take place.” (Luke 21:32) 30 AD "Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.' Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us,' and to the hills, 'Cover us.'” (Luke 23:28-30; Compare Revelation 6:14-17) 30 AD "I will come to you. …In that Day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.' …'Lord, what then has happened that You are about to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?'" (John 14:18,20,22) 30 AD "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?" (John 21:22) The Disciples 30 AD "We were hoping that He was the One who is about to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24:21) Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles 52 AD “…we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord… …We who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds… …You, brethren, are not in darkness, that the Day should overtake you like a thief.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15,17; 5:4) 52 AD “May your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23) 52 AD “It is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.” (2 Thessaloniams 1:6-7) 56 AD “The time has been shortened.” (1 Corinthians 7:29) 56 AD “The form of this world is passing away.” (1 Corinthians 7:31) 56 AD “Now these things …were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11) 56 AD “We shall not all fall sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52) 56 AD "Maranatha!" [The Lord comes!] (1 Corinthians 16:22) 56 AD “Godliness …holds promise for the present life and that which is about to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8) 56 AD “I charge you …that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Timothy 6:14) 56 AD “…storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for that which is about to come, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (1 Timothy 6:19) 57 AD “He has fixed a day in which He is about to judge the world in righteousness…” (Acts 17:31) 58 AD “Not for [Abraham's] sake only was it written, that [faith] was reckoned to him [as righteousness], but for our sake also, to whom it is about to be reckoned.” (Romans 4:23-24) 58 AD “If you are living according to the flesh, you are about to die.” (Romans 8:13) 58 AD “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18) 58 AD "It is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand." (Romans 13:11-12) 58 AD “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (Romans 16:20) 60 AD “There is about to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.” (Acts 24:15) 60 AD “As he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment about to come…" (Acts 24:25) 61 AD "...not only in this age, but also in the one about to come.” (Ephesians 1:21) 61 AD “In the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self… …Avoid these men. For of these are those who enter into households and captivate weak women… …These also oppose the truth… …But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all…” (2 Timothy 3:1-2,5-6,8-9) 61 AD “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is about to judge the living and the dead…” (2 Timothy 4:1) 62 AD “The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5) 62 AD "The gospel …was proclaimed in all creation under heaven." (Colossians 1:23; Compare Matthew 24:14; Romans 10:18; 16:26; Colossians 1:5-6; 2 Timothy 4:17; Revelation 14:6-7; cf. I Clement 5,7) 62 AD “…things which are a shadow of what is about to come.” (Colossians 2:16-17) 63 AD “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son.” (Hebrews 1:1-2) 63 AD “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who are about to inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14) 63 AD “He did not subject to angels the world about to come.” (Hebrews 2:5) 63 AD “…and have tasted …the powers of the age about to come.” (Hebrews 6:5) 63 AD "For ground that drinks the rain which often falls upon it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near a curse, and it's end is for burning.” (Hebrews 6:7-8) 63 AD “When He said, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.” (Hebrews 8:13) 63 AD “The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way of the [heavenly] Holy Places has not yet been revealed, while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.” (Hebrews 9:8-10; Compare Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 2:21-22; 3:17; 4:13) 63 AD “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things about to come…” (Hebrews 9:11) 63 AD “Now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin.” (Hebrews 9:26) 63 AD “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things about to come…” (Hebrews 10:1) 63 AD “…as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25) 63 AD “…the fury of a fire which is about to consume the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:27) 63 AD “For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay.” (Hebrews 10:37) 63 AD “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the one that is about to come.” (Hebrews 13:14) Peter the Apostle to the Circumcision 30 AD “This is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 'And it shall be in the last days…'” (Acts 2:16-17) 62 AD “…salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:5) 62 AD “He …has appeared in these last times for the sake of you.” (1 Peter 1:20) 62 AD “In the last days mockers will come. …For this they willingly are ignorant of…” (1 Peter 3:3,5) 62 AD “They shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (1 Peter 4:5) 62 AD “The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.” (1 Peter 4:7) 62 AD "For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God.” (1 Peter 4:17) 62 AD “…as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is about to be revealed.” (1 Peter 5:1) 62 AD “We have the prophetic word …which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the Day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19) 62 AD “Their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” (2 Peter 2:3) 62 AD “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” (2 Peter 3:10-12) James 62 AD "Speak and so act, as those who are about to be judged by the law of liberty." (James 2:12) 62 AD “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. …It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!” (James 5:1,3) 62 AD “Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.” (James. 5:7) 62 AD “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (James. 5:8) Jude the brother of James 62 AD “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation. …About these also Enoch …prophesied, saying, 'Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly…'” (Jude 1:4,14-15) 62 AD “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, 'In the last time there shall be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.' These are the ones who cause divisions…” (Jude 1:17-19) John the Apostle whom Jesus loved 62 AD “The darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.” (1 John 2:8) 62 AD “The world is passing away, and its desires.” (1 John 2:17) 62 AD “It is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18) 62 AD “Even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18; Compare Matthew 24:23-34) 62 AD “This is that of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” (1 John 4:3; Compare 2 Thessaloniams 2:7) 63 AD “…to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place.” (Revelation 1:1) 63 AD “The time is near.” (Revelation 1:3) 63 AD “Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.” (Revelation 2:25) 63 AD “I also will keep you from the hour of testing which is about to come upon the whole world.” (Revelation 3:10) 63 AD “I am coming quickly.” (Revelation 3:11) 63 AD “And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is about to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.” (Revelation 12:5) 63 AD "And in her [the Great City Babylon] was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth." (Revelation 18:24; Compare Matthew 23:35-36; Luke 11:50-51) 63 AD “…to show to His bond-servants the things which must shortly take place.” (Revelation 22:6) 63 AD "Behold, I am coming quickly. " (Revelation 22:7) 63 AD "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near." (Revelation 22:10; Compare Daniel 8:26) 63 AD "Behold, I am coming quickly.” (Revelation 22:12) 63 AD "Yes, I am coming quickly." (Revelation 22:20)

1452-1498AD Girolamo Savonarola


Girolamo Savonarola

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Girolamo Savonarola by Fra Bartolomeo, c. 1498.
Girolamo Savonarola by Fra Bartolomeo, c. 1498.

Girolamo Savonarola (September 21, 1452May 23, 1498), also translated as Jerome Savonarola or Hieronymus Savonarola, was an Italian Dominican priest and leader of Florence from 1494 until his execution in 1498. He was known for religious reform, anti-Renaissance preaching, book burning, and destruction of what he considered immoral art. He vehemently preached against what he saw as the moral corruption of the clergy, and his main opponent was Pope Alexander VI. He is sometimes seen as a precursor of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, though he remained a devout and pious Roman Catholic during his whole life.

His religious actions have been compared to those of the later Jansenists, although theologically many differences exist.



[edit] Early years

Savonarola was born in Ferrara, the capital of an independent Duchy.

In his youth he studied the Bible, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Aristotle. Savonarola initially studied at the University of Ferrara, where he appears to have taken an advanced Arts degree. His stance against morally corrupt clergy was initially manifested in his poem on the destruction of the world entitled De Ruina Mundi (On the Downfall of the World), written at the age of 20. It was at this stage that he also began to develop his moral voice, and in 1475 his poem De Ruina Ecclesiae (On the Downfall of the Church) displayed his contempt of the Roman Curia by terming it 'a false, proud whore'.

Statue of Savonarola in his birthplace, Ferrara, Italy.
Statue of Savonarola in his birthplace, Ferrara, Italy.

[edit] Florence

Savonarola became a Dominican friar in 1475, during the Italian Renaissance, and entered the convent of San Domenico in Bologna. He immersed himself in theological study, and in 1479 transferred to the convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli. Finally in 1482 the Order dispatched him to Florence, the ‘city of his destiny’. Savonarola was lambasted for being ungainly, as well as being a poor orator. He made no impression on Florence in the 1480s, and his departure in 1487 went unnoticed. He returned to Bologna where he became 'master of studies’.

Savonarola returned to Florence in 1490 at the behest of Count Pico della Mirandola. There he began to preach passionately about the Last Days, accompanied by visions and prophetic announcements of direct communications with God and the saints. Such fiery preachings were not uncommon at the time, but a series of circumstances quickly brought Savonarola great success. The first disaster to give credibility to Savonarola’s apocalyptic message was the Medici’s family weakening grip on power due to the French-Italian wars. The flowering of expensive Renaissance art and culture paid for by wealthy Italian families now seemed to mock the growing misery in Italy, creating a backlash of resentment among the people. The second disaster was the appearance of syphilis (or the “French pox”), possibly brought back by sailors from the New World, which was a running epidemic and as deadly as the plague. Finally the year 1500 was approaching which brought about a mood of millennialism. Thus for many people the Last Days had arrived and Savonarola was the prophet of the day.

His Church of St. Mark was always crowded to excess during his celebrating holy Mass and his sermons. Savonarola was not an academic theologian. He did not proclaim theological theories or difficult teachings. Instead, he preached that Christian life involved being good, practicing the virtues, rather than carrying out displays of excessive pomp and ceremonies. He did not seek to make war on the Church of Rome. Rather, he wanted to correct the transgressions of worldly popes and secularized members of the Papal Curia.

Painting of Savonarola's execution in the Piazza della Signoria.
Painting of Savonarola's execution in the Piazza della Signoria.

Lorenzo de Medici, the previous ruler of Florence and patron of many Renaissance artists, was also a former patron of Savonarola. Eventually, Lorenzo and his son Piero de Medici became one of the targets of Savonarola’s preaching.

After Charles VIII of France invaded Florence in 1494, the ruling Medici were overthrown and Savonarola emerged as the new leader of the city, combining in himself the role of secular leader and priest. He set up a rather modern democratic republic in Florence. Characterizing it as a “Christian and religious Republic,” one of its first acts was to make sodomy, previously punishable by fine, into a capital offence. Homosexuality was previously tolerated in the city, and many homosexuals from the elite left Florence. His chief enemies were the Duke of Milan and Pope Alexander VI, who issued numerous restraints against him, all of which were ignored.

In 1497, he and his followers carried out the Bonfire of the Vanities. They sent boys from door to door collecting items associated with moral laxity: mirrors, cosmetics, lewd pictures, pagan books, immoral sculptures (which he wanted to be transformed into statues of the saints and modest depictions of biblical scenes), gaming tables, chess pieces, lutes and other musical instruments, fine dresses, women’s hats, and the works of immoral and ancient poets, and burnt them all in a large pile in the Piazza della Signoria of Florence.[1] Many fine Florentine Renaissance artworks were lost in Savonarola’s notorious bonfires — including paintings by Sandro Botticelli and Michelangelo Buonarroti, which are said to have been thrown on the pyres by the artists themselves, though there are some who question this claim.

Florence soon became tired of Savonarola because of the city’s continual political and economic miseries, where God did not seem to intervene to come to the city's aid, and the Last Days did not seem to come about despite the city government's insistence that the Apocalypse was near to fulfillment.

During his Ascension Day sermon on May 4, 1497, bands of youths rioted, and the riot became a revolt: dancing and singing taverns reopened, and men again dared to gamble publicly.

[edit] Excommunication and execution

On May 13, 1497, the rigorous Father Savonarola was excommunicated by Pope Alexander VI, and in 1498, Alexander demanded his arrest and execution. On April 8, a crowd attacked the Convent of San Marco; a bloody struggle ensued, during which several of Savonarola’s guards and religious supporters were killed: he surrendered along with Fra Domenico da Pescia and Fra Silvestro, his two closest associates. Savonarola was faced with charges such as heresy, uttering prophecies, sedition, and even other crimes, called religious errors by the Borgia pope.

During the next few weeks all three were tortured on the rack. All three signed confessions; the torturers spared only Savonarola’s right arm, in order that he might be able to sign his confession, which he did sometime prior to May 8. On that day he completed a written meditation on the Miserere mei, Psalm 51, entitled Infelix ego, in which he pleaded with God for mercy for his physical weakness in confessing to crimes he believed he did not commit. On the day of his execution, May 23, 1498, he was still working on another meditation, this one on Psalm 31, entitled Tristitia obsedit me.[2]

On the day of his execution he was taken out to the Piazza della Signoria along with Fra Silvestro and Fra Domenico da Pescia. The three were ritually stripped of their clerical vestments, degraded as "heretics and schismatics", and given over to the secular authorities to be burned. The three were hanged in chains from a single cross; an enormous fire was lit beneath them; they were thereby executed in the same place where the Bonfire of the Vanities was lit, and in the same manner that he had condemned other criminals himself during his own reign in Florence. Jacopo Nardi, who recorded the incident in his Istorie della città di Firenze, wrote that his executioner lit the flame exclaiming, “The one who wanted to burn me is now himself put to the flames.” Luca Landucci, who was present, wrote in his diary that the burning took several hours, and that the remains were several times broken apart and mixed with brushwood so that not the slightest piece could be later recovered, as the ecclesiastical authorities did not want Savonarola’s followers to have any relics for a future veneration of the rigorist preacher they considered a Saint. The ashes of the three were afterwards thrown in the Arno beside the Ponte Vecchio.[3]

Niccolò Machiavelli, author of The Prince, also witnessed and wrote about the execution. The Medici subsequently regained control of Florence.

A plaque commemorates the site of Savonarola’s execution in the Piazza della Signoria, Florence.
A plaque commemorates the site of Savonarola’s execution in the Piazza della Signoria, Florence.

[edit] Character and influence

His religious actions have been compared to those of the later 17th and 18th century Jansenists, although theologically many differences exist. Savonarola did produce a theological doctrine on salvation, and faithfully adhered to even minor theological definitions of the papal Magisterium. However Savonarola's call to simplicity in church interior and his rigorous moral stances have been compared to those of Jansenists. Also the insistence on the immediate danger of hell and the fewness of the elect can be considered to be a similarity.

After Savonarola's death, a secret Catholic group known as the Piagnoni sprang up in Florence to preserve his memory, organized into a sort of Catholic guild. Franciscan Friars were prominent among the Piagnoni, and they briefly re-appeared in 1527 when they once again overthrew the Medici, but through intervention of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation it was brought to an end in 1530 at the Battle of Gavinana and the Medici were restored to power.

Savonarola left many admirers throughout Europe, in particular among religiously pious humanists who valued his deep spiritual convictions. Erasmus, who refused to become a Protestant is said to have remained Catholic due to the lecture of Savonarola.

In the twentieth century, a movement for the canonization of Frà Savonarola began to develop within the Roman Catholic Church, particularly among Dominicans, with many judging his excommunication and execution to have been unjust. His potential beatification and canonization is opposed by many Jesuits, who consider Savonarola's (secular) conflict with the papacy to have been an intolerable crime.[4]

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Macey, p. 75.
  2. ^ Macey, p. 28.
  3. ^ Macey, pp. 30–1.
  4. ^ NCR Online.

[edit] References

  • Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians, James Lawson, Warner Press, 1911, pp. 73–84.
  • Bonfire Songs: Savonarola's Musical Legacy (1998), Patrick Macey, Clarendon Press, Oxford
  • New York Times, Savonarola, Second Lecture of the Course by Dr. Lord at Association Hall, January 10, 1871, pp. 2–3.

[edit] Further reading

[edit] Fictionalizations

  • The novel Romola by George Eliot features Savonarola as a central character.
  • The novel The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason makes extensive references to Savonarola.
  • The novel The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant makes extensive references to Savonarola.
  • In Natahan Combs' The Burning of Girolamo Savonarola 2006 film, Savonarola deplores the way history has treated him and his legacy. Includes a reenactment of the Bonfire of the Vanities.
  • Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's The Palace, a novel of the Comte st. Germain, features Savonarola and his Bonfire of the Vanities
  • The novel I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalogridis also features Savonarola as a central character.
  • The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi, by Jacqueline Park, features Savonarola as a rather menacing character.
  • The novel The Jamais Vu Papers, by Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin, features Savonarola as a character in the dream world, perpetually burning, and father to scientist Imogene Savonarola.
  • The short story, "Savonarola Brown" by Max Beerbohm features a spoof play about Savonarola.
  • The novel The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone describes Michelangelo's brother as a later-regretful disciple of Savonarola and the effect of Savonarola on the Medici family. It also describes how Savonarola was eventually assassinated and hung upside down a la Mussolini.
  • The novel The Magus by John Fowles refers to Savonarola's confinement prior to his execution, "Sometimes rooms seem to imbibe the spirit of the people who have lived in them- think of Savonarola's cell in Florence".

[edit] External links