A Sip from the “Well of Grace” Medieval Texts from the Apostolic Penitentiary by Kirsi Salonen, Ludwig Schmugge (review)
- The Jurist: Studies in Church Law and Ministry
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 71, Number 2, 2011
- pp. 450-451
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Book Reviews A SIP FROM THE “WELL OF GRACE” MEDIEVAL TEXTS FROM THE APOSTOLIC PENITENTIARY by Kirsi Salonen and Ludwig Schmugge. Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2009. The Apostolic Penitentiary may still be the least well known of all the important medieval papal offices. Penitentiary registers from the Middle Ages were only rediscovered in 1913, and they were not made available to researchers until 1983—registers produced after 1564 are still not consultable . Monographs and articles based on material from the registers appeared subsequently, but like the now classic studies of the office per se, not often in English. The Catholic University of America Press has consequently done a real service to North American readers by publishing this latest volume in its Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Canon Law series. The medieval Penitentiary annually responded to supplications from thousands of Christians. It had a large staff of professional canon lawyers, clerks, and scribes, all working under the direction of the cardinal penitentiary who headed the curial office. Scribes recorded approved requests in registers, one hundred and fifty volumes of which survive from the period before Trent. These registers contain absolutions for violations of canon law in cases reserved to the papacy, dispensations for release from a specific canonical regulation, and licenses which gave successful petitioners leave to act in ways not normally countenanced by church law. Kirsi Salonen of the University of Tampere, Finland, and Ludwig Schmugge, president of the scientific committee of the German Historical Institute in Rome, preface their introduction to these texts with an overview of the office that produced them. They catalogue the many and various reasons for Christian appeals to the medieval Penitentiary, discuss the procedures by which these appeals were processed, and describe the different kinds of documents produced in response to them. Because the authors render the workings of an arcane and highly bureaucratic institution comprehensible—proof of their complete familiarity with their subject matter—this concise introductory section makes indispensible reading for students of medieval ecclesiastical history. The Jurist 71 (2011) 450–474 450 The second half of the study adds to its usefulness as a textbook. Original letters of petition, along with dispensations, absolutions and declarations are reproduced in Latin and in translation. Each document is representative of a class of supplication or privilege, and each is preceded by an explanation of context and content. Digital photographs of the original manuscripts are presented in series at the end of the book, and they are also included on an accompanying CD. With their superior qualities of resolution, these digital images are valuable to student and teacher alike. A Sip From the “Well of Grace” challenges a new generation of historians to continue to mine a rich vein. It does so by providing concrete examples of the kinds of information about law, religion, and society that medievalists might be able to extract from Penitentiary registers as well as by giving would-be researchers some technical assistance in dealing with archival sources. Elizabeth Makowski Professor of History Texas State University San Marcos, Texas LIBERTÀ RELIGIOSA E RECIPROCITÀ edited by José Antonio Araña. Milan: Giuffrè, 2009. On April 26 and 27, 2009, the Faculty of Canon Law of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome organized a conference, entitled “Libertà religiosa e reciprocità” (Religious Liberty and Reciprocity).The book, the result of the conference, is divided into three parts: 1. Presentations (Relazioni), 2. Shorter studies (Comunicazioni), and 3. Results of the round table (Tavole rotonde). There are eight contributions in the first part: Jean-Louis Tauran discusses the concept of reciprocity in the recent magisterium (Il concetto di reciprocità nel magisterio recente), Fran cesco D’Agostino offers a philosophical approach (Libertà religiosa e reciprocità. Approccio filosofico alla questione), and José T. Martín de Agardealswiththejuridicalaspects(Libertàreligiosaereciprocità).Further contributions include Maurice Borrmans on religious liberty in Islamic countries (Le libertà religiose nei paesi musulmani, tra teoria e prassi), Péter Erdö on reciprocity between various Catholic churches sui book reviews 451 ...