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THE VISION OF "JOHN, HERMIT OF THE ASTURIAS": LUCAS OF TUY, APOSTOLIC RELIGION, AND ESCHATOLOGICAL EXPECTATION By ROBERT E. LERNER and CHRISTINE MOREROD Although the study of high- and late-medieval eschatological prophecy has gained considerable momentum in the last few decades, much groundlevel work remains to be done. A case in point is the state of knowledge concerning a prophetic vision attributed to "John, Hermit of the Asturias," published in 1941 in Alsace by the Franciscan scholar Livarius Öliger.1 Recause no sustained treatment of this thirteenth-century text has appeared since then, Oliger's publication has remained the sole point of reference. But it is inadequate. Öliger was unable to identify the author of the text or to come within decades of a correct dating. He was also unaware of much relevant data. Whereas he knew of only two independent manuscript copies of the vision and a version included in a life of Saint Dominic, I have identified four more manuscript copies, as well as a misplaced one and a substantial passage from the vision in a fourteenth-century treatise. Given that the text is a revealing document concerning the religious history of the second quarter of the thirteenth century, it is time to return to it. The Prophetic Vision The work that Öliger termed a "Pseudo-Prophetic Text from Spain about Saints Francis and Dominic" is not a free-standing "pseudo-prophetic" vision, but one transmitted in a frame letter sent by a "magister" to a cardinal . Because the data in the frame deserve close attention, I will analyze them separately after recapitulating the contents of the vision. 1 Livarius Öliger, "Ein pseudoprophetischer Text aus Spanien über die Heiligen Franziskus und Dominikus (13. Jahrhundert)," in Ignatius-Maria Freudenreich, ed., Kirchengeschichlliche Studien P. Michael BiM als Ehrengabe dargeboten (Colmar, 1941), 13-28. Robert Lerner wrote the first part of this collaborative work and Christine Morerod prepared the edition. Robert Lerner's research was greatly facilitated by expertise generously offered by Dr. Peter Linehan, St. John's College, Cambridge. He is also indebted for information and advice to Christina Bobek, Sean Field, Simona Iaria, Alexander Patschovsky, and members of the Newberry Library workshop in high- and late-medieval intellectual and religious history. 196TRADITIO Supposedly a certain hermit from the Asturias (northwest Spain) named John, well known for his asceticism, and claiming to have been sent by Saint Isidore, visited the author of the letter and asked him to record a vision. The author then did so in the presence of several Dominicans, in language that one might easily term psychedelic. According to the narrative, the hermit was praying at the hour of nones when he saw a likeness (similitudo) of a body with six wings of indescribable beauty. The head was Christ's, whose face shone like the sun. Crowning the head was a diadem, at the top of which were Saint Peter and successive Roman popes. To Peter's right were Saints Paul, James, and all the other apostles and evangelists; to his left were Abraham, Moses, David, and Solomon . Between the face and the chest of the likeness was the face of Mary, shining with ineffable clarity, as well as the faces of John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. The six wings displayed six doctors of the Church: Augustine, Jerome, Gregory, "Isidore of Spain," Ambrose, and Hilary, all holding different insignia. Furthermore, the wings were studded with gems, as well as with faces of other saints: Martin, Nicholas, Benedict, and Bernard . The feet of the likeness were on fire, and below them two fiery wheels emitted splendid rays with the faces of men. The marvelous likeness flew through the air, first from west to east, then from north to south, and then back to its original position in the west. (The hermit viewed all this in Spain.) At that point the likeness descended to earth and the "most blessed" Francis and Dominic appeared, each with six wings. Francis had a cord fastened to the wheels of the likeness and Dominic similarly a golden chain. The face of Francis was of sparkling brightness, and Dominic's was as white as snow. The two saints drew the marvelous...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2166-5508
Print ISSN
0362-1529
Pages
pp. 195-225
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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