Sunday, April 18, 2010

14th-Century Book by Catholic Rebels

Denounced by the Vatican as heretical some seven centuries ago, the writings of an influential Franciscan dissident have found their way to the fourth floor of the Newberry Library.

José Moré/Chicago News Cooperative
Writings by Peter John Olivi.

Paul Saenger, curator of the Newberry Library in Chicago, perusing a 14th-century codex from southern France with writings by Peter John Olivi, a Roman Catholic dissident.

The handwritten texts of Peter John Olivi, bought last month jointly with the University of Notre Dame, could shed light on theological disputes during the early Inquisition. Scholars have hailed them as a remarkable legacy of the order of Spiritual Franciscans, who dared to criticize the Roman Catholic Church for amassing vast wealth.

“These were the rebels,” said Prof. Kent Emery Jr., who teaches at the Medieval Institute at Notre Dame, referring to the Spiritual Franciscans. “All of Olivi’s books were ordered to be burned after his death. They didn’t succeed.”

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