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  • Cinquant'anni di vita della 'Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia.' Atti del Convegno di Studio (Roma, 8-10 settembre 1999)
  • Paul F. Grendler
Cinquant'anni di vita della 'Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia.' Atti del Convegno di Studio (Roma, 8-10 settembre 1999). Edited by Pietro Zerbi. [Italia Sacra, Studi e Documenti di Storia Ecclesiastica, 71.] (Rome: Herder Editrice e Libreria. 2003. Pp. xi, 298. €45.00 paperback.)

This volume publishes the papers of a conference held in 1999 that assessed the first fifty years of the Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia (hereafter RSCI), which publishes two thick issues every year.

In an excellent article with an appendix of documents, Paolo Vian describes the origins of RSCI. From 1938 onward, various individuals and groups proposed a journal devoted to the history of the Italian church from its origins. Several wanted an historical institute as well, and some wanted it to be located at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan. Substitute Secretary of State Giovanni Battista Montini offered strong encouragement. Finally in 1945 Michele Maccarrone, a diocesan priest and medievalist originally from the Romagna, won the approval of Montini when he proposed just a journal without an institute and did not ask for a Vatican subvention. Rome became its home because of the number of church historians located there. Maccarrone was appointed editor of the journal along with an editorial board of distinguished scholars. It was decided that every issue would include a bibliographical section, because the war had made it difficult for scholars to learn of new publications. The first issue appeared in 1947.

Under the editorship of Maccarrone, the RSCI emphasized the institutional church and a straightforward presentation of historical material. There was little space for debates over historical issues in the opinion of some members of the editorial board and outsiders. The differences came to a head in "the crisis of 1976."Paolo Brezzi, a member of the editorial board, wanted a change of policy that would include more debates and a broader definition of church history. Maccarrone disagreed. Two members of the board resigned, and the editorial board of Hubert Jedin and others dissolved itself and gave complete editorial responsibility to Maccarrone. Ovidio Capitani, a participant in the crisis who agreed with Brezzi, describes the issues of 1976 in an article that demonstrates that considerable anger remains, although his allusive prose leaves some things unclear. RSCIoperated without an editorial board until a new one was constituted in 1979.

RSCI sponsored some very important conferences. Paolo Prodi describes the conference entitled "Problemi di vita religiosa in Italia nel Cinquecento" that met in Bologna in 1958, a successful attempt to bring together clerical and lay scholars. Indeed, the list of the 135 speakers and attendees is a who's who of the most important Italian historians on sixteenth-century Italian religious history over the past fifty years. There was one Anglo-Saxon there, Leonard Boyle, O.P., a future prefect of the Vatican Library. The volume that came out of the Bologna conference included some seminal studies. The Bologna meeting also marked a split between RSCI and the Bolognese Istituto per le Scienze [End Page 289] Religiose, when Maccarrone refused to publish Giuseppe Alberigo's preface to the volume. Prodi publishes it here. At the time there was a plan for RSCI and the Istituto jointly to sponsor a series of monographs. This also fell through, possibly because Alberigo wanted to include Delio Cantimori on the board of editors. Maccarrone, a gifted scholar and editor of RSCI from 1947 to 1993, appears to have been quite dictatorial.

Other studies analyze the four important conferences on the medieval church and the two dedicated to nineteenth- and twentieth-century Italian church history. The last section of the book offers papers about three other Italian journals dedicated to religious history. Franco Bolgiani, editor of Rivista di Storia e Letteratura Religiosa (first issue 1965), describes that journal and how it differs from RSCI in admirably clear prose. Mario Fois describes the Archivum Historiae Pontificiae (first issue 1963), and includes the sad information that it has only thirty North American subscriptions. And Alberigo...


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