Venerdì 21 Marzo 2008  22:33 Questa testata aderisce all'anso  

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  Sabato 16 Novembre 2019RACCONTI Scrivici 
The Loggia of Bigallo (courtesy of nd_architecture_library). Venerdì 21 Marzo 2008  22:33
LIKE A BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED ARNO
LIKE A BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED ARNO


La storia di Savonarola e la storia dei giorni nostri... based on "Life and Times of Girolamo Savonarola:" by Pasquale Villari, London, 1888

At the beginning of the fifteenth century in the Monastery of St. Mark in Florence, the brightest and also the saddest years of his life were to be passed. It was a poor, half-ruined building, inhabited by a few monks of the order of St. Sylvester, whose scandalous life occasioned numerous complaints to be laid before the Court of Rome.

Finally, Cosimo the Elder obtained the papal permission to remove these monks elsewhere, and granted the house to the reformed Dominicans of the Lombard congregation.

Then, deciding to rebuild it, he charged the celebrated architect, Michelozzo Michelozzi, with the work ; and six years later, in 1443, the monastery was finished at a cost of 36,000 florins. Cosimo was never sparing of expense for churches, monasteries, and other public works fitted to spread the fame of his munificence and increase his popularity.

While the convent was in course of erection, he had been very generous in helping the Dominicans, and now that the work was so successfully completed, he was not satisfied until he could endow them with a valuable library. This, however, was a difficult undertaking and one of considerable expense, since it was a question of collecting manuscripts, which, just then, commanded exorbitant prices.

But the opportune decease of Niccolo' Niccoli, the greatest manuscript collector in Europe, enabled Cosimo to fulfil his purpose. Niccoli had been one of the most learned men of his day, and spent his whole life and fortune in acquiring a store of codices that was the admiration of all Italy. He had bequeathed this treasure to Florence, but having also left many debts behind him, his testamentary dispositions had not been carried out.

Accordingly Cosimo paid off the debts, and reserving a few of the more precious codices for himself, entrusted the rest of the collection to the Monastery of St. Mark.

This was the first public library established in Italy, and the monks kept it in such excellent order as to prove themselves worthy of the charge. St. Mark's became almost a centre of erudition, and being joined to the congregation of the Lombard Dominicans, the more learned brothers of the Order resorted to Florence, and increased the new convent's renown. The most distinguished men of the time frequently came to St. Mark's to enjoy con- versation with the friars.

It was during these years that Fra Giovanni da Fiesole, better known as Fra Beato Angelico, was employed in covering the convent walls with his incomparable works.

But above all their treasures of art and learning, the brethren chiefly gloried in their spiritual father and founder St. Antonine, one of those characters who are true glories of the human race. History might be ransacked almost in vain for an example of more constant self-abnegation, active charity, and evangelical neighbourly love than that of St. Antonine.

He was the founder or reviver of nearly every benevolent institution in Florence. His was the noble idea of converting to charitable uses the Society of the Bigallo, founded by St. Peter Martyr for the extermination of heretics, and that had so often stained the streets and walls of Florence with blood. Thenceforward the Captains of the Bigallo, instead of burning and slaying their fellow-men, rescued and succoured forsaken orphans.

St. Antonine was the founder of “St. Martin's Good Men " (Buoni Uomini di San Martino), a society that fulfils to this day the Christian work of collecting offerings for distribution among the poveri vergognosi, the honest poor who are ashamed to beg.

It would be quite impossible to relate all that he did for the public benefit ; but, unfortunately, at nowadays, nobody still living remembers having often seen him going about the city and its environs, leading a donkey loaded with bread or clothing, for sufferers from plague or pestilence.

His death in 1459 was mourned in Florence as a public calamity ; but 50 years later, the memory of St. Antonine was still cherished with so lively a veneration, that the cloister still seemed to be pervaded by his spirit.

None mentioned his name save in accents of the deepest respect ; his sayings were continually recalled and carried the greatest weight, and when the friars sought to describe a model of Christian virtue, the only name that rose to their lips was that of St. Antonine.

Where have you gone St Antonine? Our country turns it's lonely eyes to you because I'm not so sure that Jesus loves us more than we will know. Oh, oh, oh

Giorgio Monteforti

Venerdì 21 Marzo 2008  22:33


Nella foto: The Loggia of Bigallo (courtesy of nd_architecture_library).


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