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780BOOK REVIEWS Autobiography of an Aspiring Saint. By Cecilia Ferrazzi. Transcribed, Translated , and Edited byAnneJacobson Schutte. [The OtherVoice in Early Modern Europe.] (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 1996. Pp. xxxi, 101. $30.00 clothbound; $14.95 paperback.) Autobiography ofanAspiring Saint is a welcome and original contribution. It is an edition of an early text at a time when the publication of original sources is becoming increasingly difficult to arrange. The document is a significant portion of a trial conducted before the Venetian branch of the Roman Inquisition. Few such judicial records are available in critical editions even in the original language, not to menion in a reliable and fluent English translation. The segment of the proceedings presented here contains the defendant's autobiography, as presented orally to the tribunal and taken down by the court notary. Although long "apologies" are occasionally encountered in inquisitorial records, Cecilia Ferrazzi's account of her troubled life is the only full-length, complete, freely volunteered personal statement to have been found in a dossier of an Italian Holy Office trial. Moreover, it has to be counted one of the earliest examples of a female autobiography, a genre usually credited to mid-seventeenth-century English noblewomen. Cecilia Ferrazzi, not herself a religious, directed a shelter in Venice that provided care and shelter to several hundred mostly indigent girls and young women, keeping them off the street and teaching them the rudiments of household skills. As surrogate mother, Ferrazzi met with her charges regularly to hear them publicly admit to their shortcomings and be admonished. This would form the basis of accusations against her that she was appropriating the priest's sacral role in confession and absolution. In the long and complicated trial conducted against her during 1664-65 much other evidence linking Ferrazzi to claims of special spiritual gifts, visions, spiritual healings, and miraculous experiences were proffered. Pretenses to sanctity were taken very seriously by ecclesiastical authorities, who mounted thirty-seven known trials for this crime. The celebrated case against one such false claimant, Maria Janis (the subject of a monograph by Fulvio Tomizza available in an English translation , also by Schutte), was completed just the year before the inception of Ferrazzi 's own trial. The latter's judicial ordeal concluded with a sentence to imprisonment for seven years. Her lawyer promptly appealed to the Supreme Congregation of the Inquisition in Rome. Within two years her confinement was ameliorated to house arrest in the custody of the Bishop of Padua. After another two years she totally regained her freedom. This complex and intriguing case whets our appetite to know more. The interested reader may pursue the subject further by consulting the Italian version of Ferrazzi's autobiography (of which the present work, with revised and expanded introduction, appendices, and bibliography, is a translation) and Schutte's several fundamental studies devoted to the careers of specific Venetian inquisitors, the establishment housing their activities, the developments leading to the growing presence ofwomen as defendants in heresy trials and to BOOK REVIEWS781 the case of Cecilia Ferrazzi herself, all cited in the course of the Autobiography. These investigations, as well as the present edition, are preparatory to a larger study that will encompass all the known Venetian "affected-sanctity" trials. Significant new findings further enriching an already intriguing story will undoubtedly be turned up. The recent opening to scholars of the central archives of the Holy Office in Rome, for example, may permit Schutte to shed light on the Supreme Congregation's deliberations over Ferrazzi's judicial appeal and its views concerning the heresy ofwhich she had been convicted. JohnTedeschi Ferryville, Wisconsin Religion and Political Culture in Britain and Ireland: From the Glorious Revolution to the Decline of Empire. By David Hempton. (New York: Cambridge University Press. 1996. Pp. xii, 191. $4995 hardback; $16.95 paperback.) This book is based on the Cadbury lectures which the author gave at the University of Birmingham in 1993, and provides a consistently incisive and penetrating survey of an historical territory fully as complex and varied as the geography of the islands with which it is concerned. Hempton shows himself the master of an extensive range of scholarship, given additional depth...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 780-781
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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