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  • Olivian Echoes in the Economic Treatises of Bernardine of Siena and John of Capistrano1
  • Filippo Sedda (bio)

I would like to begin this presentation with a quote from pope Francis's most recent encyclical Laudato si', in which we hear again the powerful voices of Bernardine of Siena and John of Capistrano, which resound again in XV century square:

The principle of the subordination of private property to the universal destination of goods, and thus the right of everyone to their use, is a golden rule of social conduct and "the first principle of the whole ethical and social order". The Christian tradition has never recognized the right to private property as absolute or inviolable, and has stressed the social purpose of all forms of private property.2

Both Italian friars of the Observant Franciscan family lived in the first half of the XV century; they were contemporaries. Bernardine was born in 1380 and John in 1381. Bernardine was accepted into the Order 13 years before John and Bernardine was accepted in the Order in 1402 and John in the 1415.

Already Victorin Doucet noticed that "Observant and Reformed (friars) of the fifteenth century were nothing if not the followers of the spiritual movement of the two previous centuries and one of the characteristics of this influence was their interest in researching and reading the manuscripts of those (who had come before them)."3

It was Roberto Rusconi, however, who used the bits and pieces found in the original manuscripts, to emphasize in a systematic way the hidden meaning of the writings of Olivi from the first condemnations [End Page 385] of his works, while he was still living. The scholar is able to demonstrate the hidden resilience of the writings of Olivi because of the dissident followers of Michael from Cesena, the friars Minor that evangelized the Orient and, in general, the world of the Franciscan dissidence of the XIV Century, that attracted the attention of Sylvain Piron and Antonio Montefusco.4

The powerful voices of Bernardine and John were certainly supported by the tools of the preacher, which are the books they had and used to prepare their sermons. These were kept in their personal library. In fact, in both collections it is possible to find the texts of Olivi.

In this circumstance, having examined the works of Olivi in the libraries of the two Italian friars, I will focus my attention on the works of an economic argument, in view of the special interest of this conference. Finally, taking advantage of significant texts, I will try to respond to the possibility that both friars Minor are indebted to the works of Olivi.

The Works of Olivi in Bernardine's Library

In 1967, the historian Raimond De Roover5 underlined the main part of the economic ideas of the Dominican bishop Antonino of Florence, found in his Summa moralis.6 He was influenced by the writings of his contemporary Bernardine of Siena. De Roover also noted that Bernardine in turn, had greatly absorbed the writings of Peter of John Olivi.

In reality, as his critical editor Dionisio Pacetti confirms, Bernardine of Siena had many works of Olivi in his library. He copied many manuscripts with his own hand and had them sent to S. Croce in Florence and to other Italian friaries.7 As the main editor responsible for Opera [End Page 386] Omnia of the saint of Siena (which was published beginning in 19508), Pacetti underlined in his preface the union of Bernardine and Olivi. He wrote a complete list of his works conserved in his library.

The manuscripts containing the works of Olivi are shown in this following list:

  1. 1.

    Siena, Biblioteca comunale, U.V.5:

    • - De septem sentimentis Christi Iesu (ff. 11ra-13rb)

    • - De septem tentationibus (ff. 13va-15va)

    • - De remediis (ff. 15va-16va)

    • - super Mattheum (ff. 16vb-18rb; ff. 48ra-56ra; 60rb-va)

    • - De Domina (ff. 41ra-45va)

    • - IV Sententiarum, q. 9 (ff. 45vb-46rb)

    • - De oratione vocali (ff. 46rb-va)

    • - De fugiendis, desiderandis, meditandis (ff. 46vb)

    • - Miles armatus (ff. 46va-47va)

    • - Exercens (ff. 47va-48ra)

    • - super Iohannem (ff. 56rb-vb)

    • - super Lucam (ff. 56vb-58ra; 58rb-va)

    • - super Canticum (ff. 57vb...


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