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  • Un santo alla battaglia di Anghiari: La "Vita" e il culto di Andrea Corsini nella Firenze del Rinascimento
  • Alison Frazier
Giovanni Ciappelli . Un santo alla battaglia di Anghiari: La "Vita" e il culto di Andrea Corsini nella Firenze del Rinascimento. Quaderni di "Hagiographica" 4. Florence: SISMEL Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2007. x + 236 pp. + 12 b/w pls. index. illus. bibl. €32. ISBN: 978-88-8450-229-2.

Andrea Corsini (d. 1374) grew up with eleven siblings in the oltrarno neighborhood of San Frediano, nearby the Carmelite church of the Carmine. By his thirties, Andrea had joined the order. His brothers promoted him within the Florentine house; as lector he probably taught at the studium; he became Provincial of Tuscany; finally Clement VI named him Bishop of Fiesole (1349). Unusually for Fiesolan bishops, Andrea lived not at Florence but in his diocese. Archives there reveal a good manager, even a reformer: he improved the cathedral fabric and, with the help of his vicar-general (his brother, who would became Bishop of Fiesole in turn), pursued cases of clerical corruption. But Andrea's greatest triumph occurred sixty-six years after his death, when, in a series of visions, he foretold Florentine victory over Milan at Anghiari (1440). Responding to enthusiasm for Andrea's cult, Eugene IV, resident in Florence, approved canonization, probably verbally. But not until 1629, following decades of effort by his patrician family and the Carmelite order, was Andrea inscribed in the catalog of saints.

Ciappelli's valuable study of Corsini's biography, vita, civic cult, and passage to canonization consists of two parts: analytic chapters and primary-source editions. Part 1 covers a lot of ground. Opening with a cautious, archivally-based, historical biography, Ciappelli then reviews the collection of commonplaces that constitutes the earliest but non-contemporary vita, attributed to noted preacher and former prior at the Carmine, Pietro di Andrea del Castagno (d. 1457). Next, Ciappelli weighs evidence for Corsini's cult on the eve of the battle. To discover popular fama, he evaluates ricordi accounts of the bishop's appearance in visions, as well as oral traditions gleaned from the miracles. At the elite level, Ciappelli considers the coincidence of Corsini's cult of 1439-40 with the promotion of Zenobius, John the Baptist, and Peter and Paul; with the Carmelites' struggle against the Augustinian Hermits of Santo Spirito for influence in the district of the Green Dragon; and with papal politics, insofar as approval of Andrea's cult was effectively a censure of Milan. By the 1460s, public cult was weakening. Corsini family agitation continued, however, for during these years Florence repeatedly requested papal attention to Andrea's cause.

Thus, as Ciappelli takes up the canonization process (ca. 1440-1629), he begins with a weak cultic situation that nonetheless offered opportunity for revival, even in the difficult Tridentine situation. The Carmelites continued to honor Corsini as a beatus and seek his canonization. The inclusion of his vita in successful collections —notably De probatis sanctorum historiis (1570) by Ludwig Sauer and Silvano Razzi's Vite dei Santi e Beati toscani (1593) —extended Andrea's reputation beyond Florence. Finally in 1602 the first step of the process, the compilation of positiones to develop questions for testimony, was underway. Witnesses were heard through spring 1603, and a productio iurium, or list of reasons for canonization, drawn up. But popes came and went. In the end, the person who did the [End Page 1242] most to secure Andrea's canonization was his seventeenth-century relative Bartolomeo Corsini, a man of wealth, influence, and utter determination. Because Bartolomeo made financial arrangements for efforts to continue after his own death, Andrea finally achieved sainthood under Urban VIII.

The familiar iconography of Corsini on horseback at the Battle of Anghiari appears only quite late, in 1683, with the completion of the Corsini family chapel at the Carmine (where Andrea's relics were to be housed). The earliest iconographical source, six anonymous predella scenes from the late fifteenth century, does not represent the battle at all, but the experience of the young man who received Andrea's prophetic visions. Even Leonardo da Vinci's official representation of Anghiari (unfinished but known...


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