The decline of the ancient Benedictine abbey of St Clement of Casauria, like that one
of the other big abbeys in the southern Italy, increased due to the general political instability,
the fi scal system during the Angevin Age and the pressure of a new French-Provencal
feudalism settled in the Abruzzi, after the conquest of Charles I of Anjou in 1266.
The comparison with the events of the close Cistercian abbey of St Mary of Casanova,
through the reading of the documents preserved also thanks to the transcriptions made by the Abruzzi’s scholars in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries, shows the difficulties faced by the ancient Benedictine settlement during the early Angevin Age. Hardhit
by the earthquake of 1348 and committed to the government of commendatory abbots
unconcerned with its fate, the abbey of Casauria lost any political and economic role by
the end of Medieval Age.
The familia of the bishop of Verona Ermolao Barbaro, who was personally and authoritatively
active in his diocese’s government (1453-1471), played a significant role in support of
the action of the bishop. Characterized by the near absence of relatives and fellow countrymen
and highly qualifi ed under the cultural and human profile, the set of the bishop’s familia appears
composite, dynamic and open to the recruitment of men from different extraction and
origin. The not many men from Verona who joined the familia distinguished themselves for
their prominent positions and were recruited among those who, for various reasons, could
provide a solid anchor to Barbaro with the infl uential chapter of canons and with the town ruling
class. The bishop’s entourage members, both the collaborators who assisted the bishop in
the institutional tasks, and the ecclesiastics in charge of the service in his chapel, were largely
rewarded with benefits that Barbaro easily obtained from the heap of diocesan benefits.
With reference to studies on the role played by women in Italy during the XVI century,
this article aims to highlight the educational and spiritual paths of a particular kind of woman:
Ludovica Torelli (1499-1569), countess of Guastalla. Young lady born in a small feud in
the Po Valley and then energetic founder of the monastery of St Paul and of the College of
Guastalla in Milan, Ludovica Torelli embodied a model of women’s life which lied halfway
between the walls of monasteries and their own home, an example that found fertile ground
in the city of Milan between 1530 and 1569. Used printed and handwritten documents kept in
the archives of the College, with particular attention to the unpublished papers of the process,
brought against the countess Torelli in 1554 about the validity of her religious profession, and
original letters of the countess, only partially published, it was possible to make a first critical
and systematical comparison of the different versions of the College’s rules, putting into evidence
its evolution during the first years of its activity.
In the sixteenth century, the cult of relics was attacked as a form of superstition from
Protestants and banned from the Reformed countries. However, it was transformed by the
Catholic Church precisely in an instrument to respond to the Lutheran and Calvinist polemics,
through the re-launching of devotional practices such as pilgrimages, public expositions and
feasts of patron saints. Feminine monasteries were among the favorite places for the custody
of relics and icons considered miraculous, which were collected over the centuries in the
Christian lands. Indeed, the presence of sacred relics contributed to the prestige of the various
cloisters, together with the rigorous and exemplary life conducted by the nuns and with the
“fame of sanctity” which enjoyed some of them. Moreover, the exposition of relics and images
as well as the magnificent ceremonies, organized on the occasion of their discovery and
translations, allowed the nuns to keep a prominent role on the stage of the devotional life of
the city, despite the constraints imposed by the enclosure. Ceremonies and processions were
also functional to exalt Rome as the “holy city” par excellence and, consequently, its reigning
The encyclical Mortalium animos, issued by Pius XI on 6th January 1928, had the effect
of preventing from any attempt of ecumenical experience for a long time. It was thought that
such effects had not been assessed when the document had been drawn up. An analysis of the
Vatican documents makes it possible today to affirm that on the one hand this effect was pondered
and wanted, and that on the other hand the reasons for this choice lie very far away. The
genesis of the encyclical has to be researched in the German phenomenon of the High Ecumenical
Church. However, the various experiences of contact with non-Catholics in different
parts of the Old and of the New world, in particular the Conversations of Malines, were not
unknown to those who drafted and promulgated the encyclical.
The Papal Chancellery produced a considerable amount of documentation during the two centuries of the Templar Order’s life. In the last years the scientific research about the Military Religious Orders, looking for documents in various archives, found new material, useful to deepen the history of the Knights Templar and their relationship with the Holy See. The Naples State Archives, for example, keeps seven papal letters issued during the XIII century for the benefit of the Templar Order. The present article examines this interesting unpublished material and reconstructs briefly the bureaucratic course of the privileges granted to the Templar Order since the enacting of the papal bull by Innocent II (1139). They are mostly documents which aim to reaffirm how previously disposed by the Holy See, according to the formula «felicis recordationis / felicis memorie [….] predecessorum nostrorum Romanorum pontificum». The documents analyzed show the popes’ interest toward the mission of the Templar Order in defence of Christianity, as well as the papal solicitude to confirm and extend their privileges.
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