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MLN 119.1 Supplement (2004) S6-S15
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An Encomium for Salvatore Camporeale—
A Tale of Two Dominicans
William A. Wallace, O.P.
University of Maryland, College Park
Part One: The Encomium
Today I come to honor a great scholar of the Renaissance, Salvatore Camporeale, and to do so from a perspective quite different from that of other speakers at this conference. I honor him as a member of the Order of Preachers, a religious order founded by Dominic of Caleruega in 1216, known as the Dominicans. That order, to which I also belong, had a large presence in the Renaissance, with extensive archives and documentation to prove it. So, as a Dominican, Salvatore has been well situated to distinguish himself in the field of Renaissance history.
He was born in southern Italy, in the town of Molfetta, near Bari, and entered the Roman Province of the order at an early age. Quite exceptionally, his talents were quickly recognized and he was sent to the U.S. to begin his formal studies. He earned the A.B. degree in philosophy at St. Albert's College, the Dominican House of Studies of the Western American Province, in Oakland, California, at the age of 22. Then Salvatore returned to Italy for his studies in theology, which he pursued in Rome at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, otherwise known as the Angelicum. It is customary, within the order, to divide the student brothers at some time during theological studies into two groups: one group will become the "teachers" (to teach within the order), the other will become the "preachers" (to do everything else). Obviously Salvatore was selected [End Page S6] for the first group, and he earned the Lectorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.Lr.) at Rome in 1955. The next year, 1956, he was sent to the Dominican House of Studies in Pistoia, where he taught theology and the history of medieval philosophy for seventeen years, until 1973.
While teaching at Pistoia Salvatore was able to commute to Rome and fulfill the requirements for the doctorate in theology at the Angelicum. He completed that in 1961 with a dissertation under the direction of the French Dominican B.-L. Gillon on "Love and Conscience in Mystical Experience according to Aquinas," which was published serially in the theological journal Sapienza. 1 Salvatore began doing editorial work in 1965 as an editor of Vita Sociale, a journal of his province published at Pistoia for addressing social problems, which partially explains his life-long interest in Marxism. He then began studies for the doctorate in philosophy under Eugenio Garin at the University of Florence, while also serving as Regent of Studies for his province from 1969 to 1973. As most of you know, he was awarded the Laurea in Philosophy for a brilliant dissertation on "Lorenzo Valla: Humanism and Theology," completed in 1970 and published at Florence by the National Institute of Studies on the Renaissance in 1972. 2 With that credential as a historian, in 1970 he joined the editorial board of Memorie Domenicane, also published at Pistoia, and has continued as one of its editors to the present day. Moreover, his mentor Eugenio Garin encouraged him to continue on for a "Diploma of Perfectivity in Philosophy," 3 the equivalent of the French Aggregé and the German Habilitationsschrift, which would prepare him for university teaching. Salvatore did that under Garin's direction with a second brilliant dissertation, with the title "From Lorenzo Valla to Thomas More: The Humanistic Charter for Theology." This was published in 1973, with an appendix editing More's letter to Martin Dorp, in an issue of Memorie Domenicane devoted to "Humanism and Theology between 1400 and 1500," for which the diploma was awarded in 1974. 4 Now that brings us to 1974, a critical year for Dominicans and for Salvatore in particular. Remember that the Second Vatican Council had been concluded in 1965, the [End Page S7] Aggiornamento was then in full effect, and the winds of change were sweeping through the Catholic Church. What was important about 1974...