FIFTEENTH CENTURY --
THE LIFE AND MINISTRY OF THE ORDER
The fifteenth century opened with much hope for the Order. A firm reform was under way, and the Western Schism was moving toward a close. As long as it lasted the Order was handicapped by division, but this wound was soon healed.
The Schism, the appointment of a cardinal protector, and triennial general chapters contributed to the development of the master general's powers and curia, and his residence at Rome. Originating earlier, these changes reached maturity during the fifteenth century. It was already the custom for the master general, when not on tours of visitation, to live wherever the pope resided. Adhering to the Roman claimant, Raymond of Capua took up residence at Santa Maria sopra Minerva at the beginning of the Schism. The priory became the permanent home of the master. The register of Raymond, in which his secretary recorded digests, and sometimes complete texts, of letters he wrote, is the first letter-book of any master to survive. Then there is a gap until the last quarter of the fifteenth century. From then on the series of registers is almost complete, an indication that the establishment of a fixed residence for the general led to the development of archives and a staff of assistants. From the earliest days he had had the help of a consultant, secretary, and a cooperator brother. The procurator general, who had charge of business with the Holy See, joined the group when residence was established in Rome.
A minor innovation occurred early in the century when the Order began using a coat-of-arms. It was the "Mantle Shield," featuring the parted black mantel of the habit on a white field. Often the dog of St. Dominic was placed below the mantel. From the end of the century, when the coat was printed on the title page of books, the Order used it until the "Lily Shield" replaced it in the twentieth century. The assumption of a coat-of arms, a device used by military men and the aristocracy, manifests the growing self-awareness of the Order and, perhaps, a growing pretension as well.
The Masters General
The twelve masters of the fifteenth century were able men, though three of them had such short terms that we can judge only by their earlier life. Peter Rochin was general for twenty-five days in 1450, Guy Flamochet twenty-six months in 1451, and Barnabas Sansoni one month in 1486. The terms of Thomas Paccaroni (1401-14141, Leonard Dati (1414-1425), and Bartholomew Texier (1426-1449 ), span almost fifty years. Six other masters also served; Martial Auribelli, twice.
Though the Council of Pisa attempted to solve the Schism in 1409, it made matters worse by electing a third claimant, Alexander V. However, his election did cause a realignment in the Order. John Puinoix, master general of the Avignon Obedience, found himself governing only the friars of Spain, Aragon, and Scotland, countries still faithful to Avignon. In the Roman Obedience, which now embraced only parts of Germany and Italy and the Kingdom of Naples, Gregory XII appointed a vicar general for the Dominicans loyal to him. Since most of the provinces united behind Paccaroni, who had been master in the Roman Obedience before the Council of Pisa and was now master in the Obedience of Pisa, the task of healing the wounds the Schism had inflicted on the Order could begin.
Leonard Dati was elected general in 1414, the year the Council of Constance began. It was his task to reunite the Order when the Council solved the Schism in 1417, electing Martin V, a pope universally recognized. John Puinoix, Dati's counterpart in the Avignon Obedience, resigned his office and was promoted to the bishopric.
Bartholomew Texier, elected in 1426 by the unusual procedure of compromise, governed longer than any other master before him. During his twenty-three years in office, the Order recovered much of its earlier vitality. Its theologians took outstanding parts at the Councils of Basel and Ferrara-Florence, and more than 100 Dominicans were elevated to episcopal rank. Encouraged by Texier, the reform of the Order gained momentum and solidarity.
Martial Auribelli (1453-1462) immortalized himself when he composed the office of Vincent Ferrer, canonized in 1455 by Calixtus III. He signified his authorship by an acrostic formed by the first letter of the opening word of each stanza of the hymn for first vespers. It reads Marialis Auribelli fecit-"Martial Auribelli composed this." He was the only general who had two terms, serving for a total of seventeen years. To reach this distinction he had to live through the unpleasant experience of being removed from office by Pius II in 1462. The reasons that motivated Pius are nowhere to be found, but Auribelli's first encyclical after he returned to office in 1465, after Pius was in the grave, strongly hints at injustice. Strained relations between Auribelli and the reformed Congregation of Lombardy seem to have been an important factor. It was more disagreement than injustice. Auribelli defended his rights vigorously, whereas the Congregation was moving toward semi-independence, gaining all it wanted from Pius II in 1459. Auribelli was not an enthusiastic reformer but he supported reform and had granted important privileges to the Lombards.
Conrad of Asti, his successor (1462-1465 ) , was a former vicar general of the Congregation. He suffered the same fate as Auribelli, giving up the generalate three years after election to permit his predecessor to resume the post a second time (1465-1473 ) . When Auribelli was rehabilitated in 1465, Paul II gave the Order full liberty to manage its affairs, but then, "for just reasons," as the 1465 chapter put it, suspended Conrad from the exercise of his powers. The general could scarcely do anything but resign. The chanter unanimously reelected Auribelli. Conrad lived out his remaining years quietly, apparently never harboring any bitterness. Auribelli could not reach those heights. In his reelection encyclical he spoke bluntly, sparing neither Pius, who was not named, nor Conrad, who was.
During his second term Auribelli went through another unfortunate experience in 1468. On the heels of a conspiracy to oust him again, engineered by an Italian faction, Paul II suspended him, appointing Leonard Mansuetis vicar general, and a panel of judges to investigate the case. The cost to the Order was an invalid general chapter in 1468, nullified by the Pope when he learned that the vicar general had presided over it in contravention of the Constitutions. After a suspension of three months, Auribelli was cleared. He returned to control and rounded out five more years as general.
Leonard Mansuetis (1474-1480 ) , former provincial of the Roman province and master of the sacred palace at the time of his election, was a learned man. He was in epistolary correspondence with Cardinal Torquemada, Marsilo Ficino, and other philosophers and humanists of the time. At his death he bequeathed his magnificent library, containing 323 manuscripts and 131 incunabula to his native priory at Perugia. Probably commissioned by the chapter that elected him, Leonard petitioned Sixtus IV to change the Order's traditional poverty to allow it to own property. The petition was granted on June 1, 1475. Some historians judge that the regime opened a new era for the Order by solving the problems that mendicant poverty had raised since the end of the thirteenth century.
The terms of the next three generals cover a short five years. Salvo Cassetta governed for two years and three months ( June 10, 1481 to September 15, 1483). Bartholomew Comazio was general for less than ten months. Elected on October 10, 1484, he was stricken at Perugia while ministering to the victims of the plague and died on the feast of St. Dominic, 1485. Barnabas Sansoni held office from June 29 to July 29, 1486.
Joachim Torriani (1487-1500) closed the century. A learned man, skilled in both Greek and Latin, he had been provincial of the province of St. Dominic for many years before becoming general. Though he was not a member of any reformed group, he was noted for the simplicity of his life. He was content with the bare necessities of life and satisfied with one meal a day; austerities he continued as general. Toward the end of his career, he had the unpleasant experience of defrocking Savonarola and his companions just before their execution.
The Lessening of Liberty
During the fifteenth century the Order did not enjoy its customary liberty. First, the cardinal protector began to play a more active role. His powers reached such a stage of development under Cardinal Carafa, who functioned as protector from 1478 to 1511, that he became in effect a second master general. Three times from 1486 to 1490 Carafa actually acted as vicar general with full jurisdiction over the Order. He used his authority to further the Order's reform, a motive that justified the lessening of constitutional liberty. The unreformed were in control of the general and provincial governments and were using their power to hamper the reform. When Carafa became protector, the hostility between reformed and unreformed friars had reached such a pitch that only someone from outside could have saved the Order from harmful dissensions.
The Church's supervision of the Order manifested itself in several ways. Though there were some earlier precedents, the practice of calling elective chapters to Rome began during the second half of the century. This happened in the 1451, 1474, 1481, and 1501 elections. This was coupled with the presidency of the protector over the last three. Another channel of papal influence was the vicar general, who administered the Order during a vacancy in the generalship. By passing over the vicar who should have taken office constitutionally and naming a vicar, the pope was virtually nominating his candidate. This happened four times in the century, when Mansuetis was elected in 1474, Cassetta in 1481, Comazio in 1484, and Torriani in 1487. Appointment failed to obtain the post in 1486 for James Stubach, provincial of Germany. Instead, Sansoni was elected. The 1481 election illustrates another mode of influence. When Sixtus IV received the electors in audience, he assured them they enjoyed full liberty of election but declared how pleased he would be if they elected Cassetta. Not bothering to ballot, the voters chose him by acclamation.
A more dubious procedure was the appointment of substitute electors for absentees. The Western Schism planted this idea in the minds of some friars, since the number of voters in each obedience had become diminutive. When Raymond of Capua died, the friars petitioned Boniface IX for the privilege of supplying substitute electors for the provinces that had given allegiance to Avignon. Boniface granted the petition but revoked it when Vicar General Thomas Paccaroni pointed out the danger to unity involved in this departure from the Constitutions. The same wisdom was not displayed in 1426. In appointing Thomas de Regno vicar general during the vacancy, Martin V granted him authority to name substitute voters. A heated dispute erupted when the votes were counted and it was seen that the substitute votes had given the election to Thomas. When they were not counted, the election went to Louis of Valladolid. To restore peace both candidates withdrew. The chapter then appointed them to select a general; their choice fell on Bartholomew Texier. Substitute voters again appeared in 14$4. Their appointment caused such a battle when the chapter convened at Pentecost that Sixtus IV sent the delegates home. His candidate, Bartholomew Comazio, an active reformer and vicar general by papal appointment, won the election in October. Master General Torriani obtained but did not use the right to appoint substitute diffinitors in 1491. This marked the end of an unfortunate experiment.
During this century some minor changes occurred in the governmental machinery of the provinces. Until 1419 the provincial chapter convened annually, but in that year the master general was empowered to permit biennial meetings for a just cause. Thirteen years later a change in the Constitutions permitted the provincial chapters themselves to decide whether they would meet every one or every two years. Another change came in 1407 when masters in sacred theology became members of the provincial chapter. Since this was a lifetime privilege and the masters were not elected delegates, their membership marked a move away from the traditional democracy of the Order.
The roster of provinces climbed to twenty-two by the addition of Portugal and Scotland. When the Schism broke out, the Portuguese Dominicans, joining their fellow countrymen, remained faithful to Urban VI, the true pontiff. The rest of the Spanish province adhered to Clement VII of Avignon. Martin V sanctioned the separation in 1418 by creating Portugal a province. Scotland became independent when the 1481 general chapter split it off from the English province and appointed its first provincial. The distance of the new province necessitated some concessions that prepared the Order to deal with the overseas provinces that would be created in the New World in the next century. In 1484 Comazio exempted Scotland from sending diffinitors to general chapters that met south of the Alps. Also the general provided that when it elected a provincial, it need not seek his confirmation. He delegated his powers in this instance to the three ranking priors of the province.
Ireland made a renewed attempt to achieve provincial status. Its first creation as a province in 1378 was nullified by Urban VI when the English provincial protested the action. The general chapter of 1484 again made Ireland a province, but the English friars succeeded in having the 1491 chapter undo the work on the plea that the Order could not grant a divorce when the pope had solemnized the marriage. Ireland had to wait until 1536 before it became a province.
The Monasteries and Third Order
During the fifteenth century, the number of Dominican monasteries rose somewhat above the 157 that stood in 1358, though we have no adequate catalogue. Six new foundations were made in Holland alone, and Italy saw the establishment of a number of large monasteries. In 1385 Clara of Gambacorta founded one in Pisa where the primitive rule was lived faithfully. John Dominici grounded Corpus Christi in Venice in 1394. Both became centers of reform. During the lifetime of Savonarola, the Florentine monastery of St. Lucy housed 100 nuns and had to refuse applications of 200 candidates. Sch6nensteinbach in Alsace, established in 1397, was the center from which reform radiated to other monasteries in Germany and Holland. A vigorous life flourished in the reformed and newly founded monasteries. Imitating the lives of the Sisters written in the thirteenth century monasteries, John Meyer, one of the leaders of the reform, described the lives of a score of nuns who lived holy lives in the German monasteries. St. Catherine's in St. Gall amassed a library of 250 books, while St. Catherine's in Nuremberg had more than 370, imposing collections for that day. They were mostly sermons, liturgical works, and spiritual classics. Some of the books still survive.
The fame of St. Catherine of Siena, who was canonized in 1461, contributed greatly to the spread of the Third Order. Reforming friars encouraged its growth and obtained from Innocent VII the confirmation of its Rule in 1405. Eugene IV approved it again in 1439. The earliest Third-Order communities, some of whom took vows, emerged during this century. Twenty-seven stood in the diocese of Constance alone. Important communities flourished in Neuenkirch, Freiburg im Breisgau, and Augsburg. The Third Order had progressed to such an extent in Germany by 1491 that Joachim Torriani promulgated ordinances for tertiaries living in community. The 1498 general chapter recommended that tertiary communities who wanted to live a more regular life adopt the Rule of Third Order enclosed communities. The Third-Order monastery of St. Catherine in Perugia, founded in 1490 by Bl. Columba of Rieti, reached a membership of fifty.
Dominican studies suffered as did every other part of the Order's life during the period of decline following the Black Death. Signs of a weakened interest in studies are not wanting in the acts of the chapters of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. However, the school system remained unimpaired. Occasionally the chapters had to urge provinces to fill their quotas at the general houses of studies, though evidence reveals the presence of foreign friars at the various general houses. Even the relatively obscure priory at Breslau sent its friars far and wide for their higher studies.
Traditionally Dominicans took their degrees at Paris, Oxford, and Cambridge, but the monopoly of these schools was lost during the fifteenth century when many new universities were founded. The first break in the monopoly resulted from the Western Schism. Finding their access to the University of Paris closed, friars of the Roman Obedience received permission to matriculate and graduate elsewhere. The University of Bologna, which had established a theology faculty in 1364, was accepted as a place where they might graduate. As more universities were founded, friars began to take degrees at Cologne, Vienna, Perugia, Erfurt, and Prague. The University of Paris and the priory of St. Jacques lost the preeminence they had enjoyed during the Order's first two centuries. The general chapter brought the Constitutions into accord with the situation, recognizing degree-taking at any university, provided the chapter had designated the candidates. The Hundred Years War had a similar influence. Finding travel to Paris difficult, Spanish and Portuguese friars received authorization from the 1426 general chapter to matriculate at Valladolid "and enjoy the same favors and privileges as if they had been at Paris." Seizing the opportunity presented by the foundation of many new universities, the Order also founded general houses of studies in the new university cities.
Another development was the founding of theological colleges with the power to confer degrees, a privilege granted to the houses of studies in Luchente, Aragon, in 1479, to St. Stephen's in Salamanca in 1489, and to St. Gregory's in Valladolid in 1501. The two latter colleges became the homes of some of the most outstanding Dominican theologians of the next two centuries.
Another opportunity to gain the mastership opened early in the fourteenth century, when the popes began to grant the Order the right to advance one friar to the mastership at each general chapter. At times a pope permitted the master general to promote additional candidates during the sessions. These degrees were fully earned by friars who had filled all the requirements and had passed an examination administered by masters appointed by the chapter. However, some friars in their ambition to become masters turned to influential friends outside the Order to obtain papal permission to lecture at Paris or to be advanced to the mastership out of turn. In the fifteenth century some friars received the degree by papal bull without fulfilling the requirements. These abuses and the need to codify the qualifications for earning the mastership, now that so many new universities were attended by the friars, led the general chapter to pass some much-needed legislation. On an appeal from the Order in 1402, Boniface IN attached ecclesiastical penalties to the rule that no friar might work for the mastership unless designated to do so by the general chapter. The 1403 chapter inserted into the Constitutions an academic code for graduate students that laid down a strict procedure to be followed and the requirements to be met by candidates. During the century the Order found it necessary to devote renewed attention to the problem and to further define the 1403 code.
These changes also marked the growing influence of masters in theology in the Order. Their number seems to have risen sharply during the last quarter of the fourteenth century. An indication of their growing influence was their 1407 incorporation into the provincial chapter as lifetime members. As the fifteenth century advanced masters more and more constituted the majority at general chapters until all but a few of the diffinitors held the degree.
The Thomistic School
The Thomistic School continued to gain strength as the eminence of Thomas became universally recognized. The founding of new universities, the progress of the Order's reform movement, the multiplication of manuscripts of the works of Thomas helped to spread Thomism. The followers of Thomas manifested their love for him by keeping his memory alive, propagating his cult, and studying and defending his thought. The invention of printing aided in the diffusion of his major works, the numerous commentaries on them, and expositions, manuals, and defenses.
John Capreolus, one of the greatest interpreters of Thomas, completed his Defensiones theologiae Divi Thomae in 1433, a work he had been writing since the early years of the century. It is a comprehensive defense and interpretation of Thomistic thought, especially as found in the Summa theologiae. He united in himself a profound and vast knowledge of the writings of Aquinas, his early disciples, and his adversaries.
Quoting liberally from the works of the opponents, he raises their objections and answers them. He presents the doctrine of his master sharply and clearly in the form of conclusions, marshalling texts from his works to expound each of them. No disciple of Thomas before Capreolus, and probably none since, has employed such a fullness of Thomistic texts in a single book. He heralded the Thomistic revival which would take place in the last quarter of the century in Germany, Spain, Italy, and Flanders.
Peter of Bergamo added his Tabula aurea, the classic index to the works of Thomas, to the Thomistic workshop. It retains its usefulness, despite the publication of an exhaustive computerized index in 1973. Peter also wrote one of the last concordances of Thomistic doctrine.
Though the Sentences of Peter Lombard continued to be the theological textbook in the schools and universities, theologians more and more came to appreciate the Summa theologiae of Thomas. It had always had a privileged and authoritative position among Dominicans. At the middle of the century, the Dominican Henry of Gorkum and the secular master John Tinctor began lecturing on it at the University of Cologne. Trey were followed by many Dominicans and secular masters at the universities of Rostock, Freiburg, Vienna, Leipzig, Louvain, and other German universities. One of the more outstanding lecturers on the Summa at Cologne in this period was Gerard of Elten. These professors also wrote the first commentaries on various parts of the Summa. Dominic of Flanders, professor of philosophy in several houses of study in Italy, wrote a philosophical summa, the Summa divinae philosophiae, which is said to have been the best synopsis of Thomism until Conrad Koellin and Thomas de Vio Cajetan wrote their commentaries on the Summa theologiae.
Dominican theologians argued against the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception at the Council of Basel. Apart from the Council Raphael of Pornasio and Gabriel of Barleto branded as heretics and schismatics those who held the belief. James Gil, the master of the sacred palace, was so convinced that it was erroneous that he urged Callixtus III to define Mary's conception in original sin. Unlike Cardinal John of Torquemada and John of Montenegro, who wrote and spoke against the Immaculate Conception with the objective reserve of the theologian, Vincent Bandelli employed bitterness and invective. He opposed the feast so vociferously when Sixtus IV introduced it that he merited a rebuke from the Pontiff.
Besides their books in philosophy, theology, and Scripture, Dominican authors contributed to other fields of literature as well. St. Antoninus, Archbishop of Florence (1446-1459 ), holds an honored place among the greatest moralists of the Church. His Summa moralis was a pioneering work in which moral theology came of age. His Chronicles or Summa historialis has been judged "the greatest and relatively the best historical work of the Middle Ages." He also wrote many minor ascetical and devotional treatises. St. Vincent Ferrer and the leaders of the reform movement, John Dominici, John Nider, and John Meyer, produced both homiletic and ascetical writings. Pursuing pastoral goals, they wrote for the average Christian who was engrossed in the problems of daily life and not for the spiritually elite. John Dominici's forty-two letters to the nuns of Corpus Christi taught a severe asceticism, resting on obedience, detachment, and the following of Christ. They rival those of Jordan of Saxony to Diana d'Andalo and merit him a place among the finest Italian prose writers.
Opposition to the teachings of John Wyclif and John Huss stimulated John Nider, John Stojkovic of Ragusa, and John Torquemada to develop a significant ecclesiology that helped to stem Conciliarism and refute its theory that a general council is superior to the pope. At the end of the century Savonarola, noted chiefly for his apocalyptic preaching, wrote letters, sermons, devotional and ascetical works, scriptural commentaries, and treatises in political science that won him a secure place in the literary field. His Triumphus crucis was an adaptation of the Summa contra Gentiles of Thomas and is an early Thomistic manual of apologetics.
Fifteenth-century Dominicans made some other significant contributions to the development and dissemination of knowledge. At Salamanca their teaching about the roundness of the earth had a bearing on the discoveries of Christopher Columbus. Dominican Archbishop Diego de Deza sponsored him at the court of Ferdinand and Isabella. Two German Dominicans set up the first printing establishment in the Italian peninsula.
Though not insensitive to the new currents of thought introduced by the Renaissance and Humanism, Dominican energies were absorbed by the Order's mission to promote and sustain truth. It sensed no danger in the new developments, even though, as time went on, they necessitated modification of its attitudes and procedures. This transition in European history is marked by rediscovery of ancient classical civilization, the rise of absolute monarchy, intellectual quickening, progress in the fine arts, the growth of vernacular literatures, new scientific developments, and great economic expansion, which led to the discovery of the New World and, ultimately, to religious upheaval.
The Order had no official policy regarding the Renaissance. Until the coming of Protestantism, the changes it brought about posed no problems for the Order, since it adjusted to them gradually. Individual friars took favorable or unfavorable attitudes towards the Renaissance, especially Humanism. Though the Order was not closed to the new learning, some of its members were alert to possible abuses that lay in it, especially John Dominici, Antoninus, Savonarola, and the Dominicans at Cologne. Sensing danger to Christian morality, they felt obliged to caution against indiscriminate reading of the Classics. Their primary interests lay elsewhere ( they were very busy men) but their pastoral concern moved them to issue their warnings about the pagan authors. They could scarcely fail to note that the neo-pagan tendencies they were combatting were receiving strong support from humanists in letters, tracts, and even sermons.
The traditional Dominican interest in books and libraries was heightened by the Renaissance. The Italian friars built up a number of outstanding collections and constructed some remarkable library buildings, notably at San Marco in Florence.
Many friars developed a keen interest in literature. Francis Colonna is the best known Dominican humanist. His allegorical Dream of Poliphius, imitating the Speculum maius of Vincent of Beauvais, aimed to give a compendium of the knowledge of antiquity. The work holds the distinction of being the most beautiful book printed (1499 ) by Aldus Manutius who was, after Gutenberg, perhaps the most famous among printers. Other Dominicans shared the linguistic approach of humanists to the Scriptures, studying the original language in which the Bible was written. Peter Schwarz, a late fourteenth-century Hebraist, holds a secure place in the history of the development of Hebrew studies in Germany. Seeking to prepare his friars for preaching and the missions, Savonarola introduced the study of Hebrew, Arabic, and Chaldean at San Marco. The priory acquired a fine library of Greek manuscripts and became the meeting place of Florentine humanists. Santes Pagnini, who achieved eminence as an orientalist in the next century, began his studies there.
During the century the Order produced numerous outstanding preachers. St. Vincent Ferrer (d. 1419), Manfred of Vercelli ( d, ca. 1431) , and Savonarola ( d. 1498 ) were so-called penance preachers, a category in which the two Franciscans, Saints Bernardine of Siena and John of Capistrano, can also be placed. Natural calamities, wars, a growing deterioration of public and private morality called forth such evangelists.
In a vision Vincent Ferrer was commissioned by the Lord, who was accompanied by St. Dominic and St. Francis, "to go through the world preaching Christ." In November, 1399, he set forth from Avignon on a twenty-year preaching career that occupied him until his death in 1419 at Vannes in Brittany. His exemplary and strict life gave his preaching an authority and power that won him a ready hearing from the people, even though he was unbending in regard to truth and his moral demands were severe. Vincent proclaimed the coming of an avenging God and used all the power of his eloquence and example to bring his congregations to conversion of life. Crowds of penitents followed him from place to place during his journeys as he visited and revisited towns and cities in Spain, southern France, upper Italy, Switzerland, northern France, and the Low Countries. Manfred of Vercelli, also a preacher of penance, imitated the style and manner of Vincent. The Italian provinces produced a number of other great preachers. They have also been beatified: John Dominici, Matthew Carreri, Andrew of Peschiera, Christopher of Milan, Mark of Modem, and Stephen Bandelli. The preaching of Savonarola in Florence dominated the closing decade of the century.
Rosary preaching was a new development, begun by Alan de la Roche when he revamped the old Marian confraternity in 1470. Renaming it the Rosary Confraternity, he prescribed recitation of the Rosary and meditation on its mysteries as the chief duty of its members. Alan saw in the devotion, with its meditations on the mysteries of the life of Jesus and Mary, an instrument of the spiritual rejuvenation needed in his day. He preached it widely, establishing the confraternity in a number of towns. Jacob Sprenger organized the mother confraternity at the Cologne priory on September 8, 1475, the very day Alan died. For a while it was necessary to be enrolled there to be a member. During a four-year period thousands of names were sent to Cologne from all over Europe; the parish of St. Mauritius in Vienna alone sent a list of 32,000 names. Alan and other members of the Congregation of Holland, one of the Order's most successful reform groups, led the preaching of the Rosary. It soon spread from the Low Countries and Germany to Italy, Spain, and other parts of Europe. The Order accepted responsibility for the Confraternity from its inception. The masters general took control of it in 1478 and began to authorize preachers to establish units and to receive members. The general chapter in 1484 and Torriani in 1487 granted a share in the spiritual works of all Dominicans. Pope Pius V confirmed the Order's control and forbade anyone but the master general to erect new branches.
The Order can rightly be called the Order of the Rosary. The Confraternity and Dominican preachers turned the Rosary, until then known chiefly in monasteries and devout circles, into a devotion practiced universally in the western Church. What the Summa theologiae of Thomas became for theologians, the Rosary became for other men-an epitome of Catholic doctrine. It taught the faithful of every rank and strata of society how to ponder and savor the revealed mysteries until their meaning seeped into the deepest recesses of the heart. The Rosary inspired preachers and artists. Each unit of the Confraternity was obliged to have its Rosary altar and a picture showing the fifteen mysteries. The original Rosary picture, erected at the Cologne altar, is preserved in the Church of St. Andrew, which also houses the relics of Albert the Great.
More than a score of Friars Preachers were concerned with the solution of the great problems which exercised the Church and the Councils during the fifteenth century.
Two Dominican masters general ( Leonard Dati and John Puinoix of the Avignon Obedience), and Dominican bishops and theologians helped to advance the three major concerns of the Council of Constance (1414-18 ) : the reform of the Church, the heretical doctrines of John Wyclif and John Huss, and the solution of the Schism. When immediate preparations for the Council of Constance began, Vincent Ferrer withdrew his support from Benedict XIII, the Avignon claimant, and was instrumental in inducing the kings of the Spanish Peninsula to do likewise. John XXIII, Pisan successor to Alexander V, resigned. John Dominici worked closely with Gregory XII, the Roman claimant, was his chief advisor, and carried his resignation to the Council. The way was thus smoothed for the election of a new pope.
Martin V sent Dati as papal legate to the abortive Council of Pavia, convoked in 1423 in accord with a decree of the Council of Constance. Martin moved the assembly to Siena and brought it to an end because it was so poorly attended and inclined to enact radical decrees.
Master General Bartholomew Texier, the master of the sacred palace, the procurator general, the Order's bishops and theologians, and some provincials attended the Council of Basel. They were able to defend the privileges of the mendicant Orders when some of the Council members challenged them. The Council entrusted John of Ragusa and John Nider with important tasks during the negotiations that succeeded in bringing the Bohemian Hussites to the Council. Ragusa and Henry Kalteisen were among the four theologians chosen to respond to the Hussite articles. When Ragusa spun out his arguments for eight days, John Rokizane, the Hussite debater, quipped: "You are indeed of the Order of Preachers, that is why you talk so much." Torquemada contributed his judgment and opinion on almost every question that was agitated at the Council. He and John of Montenegro, provincial of Lombardy, were particularly prominent in defending papal rights. The Basel priory offered its hospitality to many of the conciliar sessions.
The reunion of the Greek and Latin Churches, one of the main concerns of Basel, caused a rupture between the Council and Eugene IV, when he transferred it to Ferrara to accommodate the Greeks. John of Ragusa, who was in Constantinople at the time, continued to work with Basel and became schismatic. Felix V, the antipope it elected, named him a cardinal.
The Order's contribution to the Council of Ferrara-Florence, the continuation of Basel, was so outstanding that Mortier called it the Dominican Council. More than a score of Dominican theologians were present. Andrew Chrysoberges, John of Torquemada, and John of Montenegro were among the most active participants in the debates that led to the reunion of the Churches. During the Florentine period of the Council, Eugene IV lived at the priory of Santa Maria Novella, where most of the sessions were held. After the union was effected, the pope called in several prominent friars to help implement it.
Dominican Services for the Church
The Church continued to draw Dominicans into her service during the fifteenth century as bishops, cardinals, council theologians, and ambassadors. Dominicans continued to act as inquisitors. One of them, Bartholomew of Cerverio, died at the hands of heretics in Piedmont in 1466. To handle the special difficulty created in Spain by the New Christians, converts from Judaism who did not always persevere in their new religion, Ferdinand and Isabella petitioned Sixtus IV for authority to establish the Inquisition. When it was granted they appointed two Dominicans, Michael Morillo and John of St. Martin, as inquisitors in 1480. They named Thomas Torquemada first inquisitor general in 1483. He created the supreme council and published a governing code. Diego de Deza was the only other Dominican to hold the office of grand inquisitor.
Long charged with the investigation of cases involving superstition, the medieval inquisition found its activity increased in 1484, when Innocent VIII directed Jacob Sprenger and Henry Kramer, inquisitors in Germany, to examine persons accused of witchcraft. Earlier, John Nider had written a detailed account of witchcraft in his Ant-Book (Formicarius), where he recorded the fantastic notions then current. Sprenger and Kramer published a better-known book and one that long exercised a decided influence on witchcraft trials. Their Hammer of Witches (Malleus maleficarum) dealt with the nature and evils of witchcraft and the court procedures for trying cases. Designed as a help to inquisitors, it became the textbook on sorcery and witchcraft and lay on the desk of jurists and judges, Catholic and Protestant, for a long time to come. It is still held up as a notorious symbol of the mass hysteria that spread over Catholic and Protestant Europe for several centuries.
To complete the record of Dominican missions, we can add Vincent Ferrer's preaching to the Jews and Moslems in Spain. Frowning on pogroms, which often broke out against Jews, he relied on preaching and persuasion as methods of conversion. Like men of his day, Vincent held that unbelievers might be compelled to come to sermons and be fined if they failed to do so. His success in making converts is probably attributable more to his sanctity than to his peaceful methods.
Art and Architecture
The Order produced an artist of first rank in Fra Angelico. His paintings at San Marco, the Vatican, and elsewhere in central Italy are universally admired and loved. James of Ulm, a cooperator brother who spent his Dominican life in Bologna, was a superb craftsman in stained-glass windows. Some Dominican priories built churches and buildings that are noteworthy as beautiful pieces of architecture-Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, in whose refectory Leonardo da Vinci painted his "Last Supper", Santa Maria degli Angeli in Ferrara, Santa Cruz de la Real, built for the Order at Grenada by Ferdinand and Isabella, and the plateresque-style facades of the colleges of St. Stephen at Salamanca, and St. Gregory at Valladolid. The library designed by Michelozzo for San Marco, Florence, became the model of similar buildings in Bologna, Ferrara, Perugia, and Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. Reflecting the gloom that ran through much of the century, the friars at Basel, Colmar, and Bern decorated their cloisters with "Dance of Death" pictures, a favorite theme in literature and art at the time.
The Order experienced both successes and failures during the fifteenth century. It was the butt of verbal attacks when Chaucer and other popular writers hurled their satire against its members, some of whom deserved it. John Wyclif made more serious charges against the friars. There was also material injury. The Hundred Years War destroyed or damaged priories and scattered the friars in France; the Hussite Wars, in Bohemia. The advancing Turks shut down many houses in Hungary. On the whole, however, the century has more on the credit than on the debit side of its Dominican ledger.
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