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THE INFLUENCE OF THE JESUITS ON THE CURRICULUM OF THE DIOCESAN SEMINARY OF FIESOLE, 1636-1646 BY Kathleen M. Comerford* Both Protestant and Catholic Reformers considered educational changes to be integral for ensuring the effectiveness and continuation of the Reformations. In particular, religious leaders recognized that the clergy's education must be improved; for Catholics, this would mean training both regular and secular priests. To address the issues important to Catholic Reformation education fully, therefore, historians must pay attention to all clerics. However, many have assumed that there was a clear distinction between the education provided for potential priests by religious orders and that of diocesan seminaries. Based on the understanding that the latter institutions were created by order of the Council ofTrent for the purpose oftraining the secular clergy, many historians of education and of religious orders have argued that the Tridentine diocesan seminaries were run only by the diocese and only for the diocese, without assistance or interference from religious orders, for example, the Society ofJesus. This argument is supported by, for example , the early Jesuit prohibitions against involvement in diocesan education , Carlo Borromeo's expulsion ofthe Society from his seminaries, and the move by General Aquaviva to withdraw the Society's support from seminaries.1 However, a study of both primary and secondary materials reveals that such a dichotomy between "Tridentine diocesan *Dr. Comerford is an assistant professor of history in Benedictine College, Atchison, Kansas. This paper is based in part on the author's dissertation, "Education and the Catholic Reformation:The Diocesan Seminary ofFiesole (1575-1675)" (University ofWisconsin -Madison, 1995) and was written while she was a visiting assistant professor of history at Hanover College. An earlier version was presented for the American Catholic Historical Association's spring meeting in Milwaukee in April, 1995, and subsequent revisions were made possible in part by a grant-in-aid from the Friends of the Libraries of the University ofWisconsin-Madison (1996). The author wishes to thank Robert M. Kingdon, Thomas Deutscher, and Susan H. Spruell Mobley, for their comments. 'For the Jesuit decrees on this subject, see below; also see J. C. H. Aveling, TheJesuits (New York, 1981), p. 203. 662 BY KATHLEEN M. COMERFORD663 seminaries" and "seminaries of religious orders" is too fine a distinction to make. Diocesan seminaries were not exclusively diocesan. In many places in Italy, there was some connection, whether direct or indirect, to religious orders: perhaps in a limited way, for example, hiring Dominicans to teach cases of conscience; or perhaps in a very broad sense, for example, an eventual takeover by the Society of Jesus. As a test case, the diocesan seminary of Fiesole, founded in 1636/7, will be studied here. In 1563, the creation of seminaries in each diocese was legislated at Session 23, Chapter XVIII (de Ref.) of the Council ofTrent ("Directions for establishing seminaries for clerics . . ").The boys admitted to diocesan seminaries were to study "grammar, singing, ecclesiastical computation , . . . Sacred Scripture, ecclesiastical books, the homilies of the saints, the manner of administering the sacraments, . . . and the rites and ceremonies." The local clergy, including the bishops, should be the instructors, or should choose "competent substitutes."2 These directives were to be enforced by the bishop, and the seminaries were subject to his frequent visitation.3 The Council of Trent thus defined the function of seminaries in a specifically educational way, with an emphasis on disciplinary measures and the pastoral duty of the priests to be trained; in other words, the educational "program" was meant to be explicitly tied to the cura animarum but not necessarily "theological" in the academic sense. Modern historians have modified the Tridentine definition somewhat , emphasizing the training of clerics for the exercise of their ecclesiastical duties, but also focusing on moral and practical (including 2HJ. Schroeder, O.P., Canons and Decrees ofthe Council ofTrent. Original Text with English Translation (St. Louis, 1941) pp. 175-178; Latin, pp. 446-449: Twenty-Third Session . Decree on Reform. Chapter XVIII: "Directions for establishing seminaries for clerics, especially the younger ones; in their erection many things are to be observed; the education ofthose to be promoted to cathedral and major churches": "the holy council decrees that bishops, archbishops, primates...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 662-680
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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