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Reviewed by:
  • Die ältesten Viten Papst Cölestins V. (Peters vom Morrone)
  • Patrick Nold
Die ältesten Viten Papst Cölestins V. (Peters vom Morrone). Edited by Peter Herde. [Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores Rerum Germanicarum, Nova Series, XXIII.] (Hannover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung. 2008. Pp. xii, 282. €38,00. ISBN 978-3-775-20223-7.)

The oldest hagiographies of Pietro da Murrone, also known as Pope and Saint Celestine V (1294), are three: an "autobiography," the text De continua conversatione, and the Tractatus de vita et operibus atque obitu ipsius sancti viri. Peter Herde, who wrote Cölestin V (1294) (Stuttgart, 1981), provides an edited version here of the sole surviving medieval manuscript and two earlymodern ones. The "autobiography" has been printed several times before: by the Bollandists in 1866, by Arsenio Frugoni in 1954, and by Vincenzo Licitra in 1992. These editions are deficient: the Bollandists merely reprinted a faulty seventeenth-century text; Frugoni made transcription errors and did not provide an apparatus fontium; and Licitra, not immune from typographical errors himself, had his edition published by an obscure Italian research institute which never distributed the volume to the public. Licitra's "publication" is the lone product of an ambitious project begun by Raoul Manselli (1917-84) to re-edit all of the material related to Celestine V. Out of deference to this project, Herde waited to publish his own edition, turning in the typescript to the Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH) in 1983. Some twenty-five years later, the MGH has published his updated work. In his introduction and notes to the texts, Herde gently corrects minor misapprehensions in his previous publications and, more pointedly, substantial mistakes in works of other scholars. His long introduction (pp. 1-62) provides a clear and careful consideration of the provenance of the three texts. Although the incipit of the "autobiography" states that it is a "tract . . .written by his own hand and left in his cell," the work is not really an autobiography: The conceit of first-person narrative is abandoned abruptly after little more than a paragraph. Herde suggests that this work was actually written, perhaps before the papal election that it does not acknowledge, by a confrère who knew the pope from an early age. De continua conversatione (pp. 91-100) is shorter than the autobiography (pp. 67-88) but more sophisticated in its range of references (e.g., Virgil, Ovid, Livy). De continua conversatione describes da Murrone's routine of prayer and ascetic exertions; only at the end does it allude to his elevation to the throne of Peter in 1294 and resignation shortly thereafter. Herde dates De continua conversatione to the beginning of the canonization process under Clement V (1305-14) around the year 1306. The last text in the volume is the longest (pp. 103-222) and most recognizable as a conventional Vita. It covers the entire life of the saint and ends with a miracle collection. Herde suggests that this text, too, dates to 1306 or so.

As is typical of MGH volumes, this is a learned edition of medieval texts that is unlikely to be superseded; it also is beautifully produced with a Veuve Cliquot-orange cover. [End Page 780]

Patrick Nold
University at Albany, State University of New York


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