This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May 23 -- Feast of Girolamo Savonarola

Bonfire of the Vanitities:
Fourteen years ago, on the 500th anniversary of Girolamo Savonarola's execution, a ceremonial bonfire was held in Florence, Italy.  It might seem a bit tasteless to honor the man with a fire, seeing as he was burned at the stake.  However, in the 1490s, Savonarola organized Bonfires of the Vanities -- mass burnings of secular books and artworks, as well as cosmetics, fancy clothes, and mirrors.  The folks who gathered to honor Savonarola also chose to burn vanities, though they limited themselves to smut, porn, and gambling equipment. 

 Girolamo Savonarola -- Friar Fun himself
Niccolo Machiavelli heard Savonarola preach in March 1498, just two months before the friar was put to the torch.  My first impression of this puritanical Dominican was from the very pragmatic Machiavelli, and thus my impression was unfavorable.  While I have little patience for iconoclasts, puritans, and book-burners, I must admit that I have softened a little.  The Pope of whom he was so critical was Alexander VI, formerly Roderigo Borgia, father of Sweet Lucretia and Charming Cesare.  I believe that Alex6 was an exponent of papal corruption more than he was an agent of it, but nonetheless, he certainly offered much for Savonarola to criticize. 

I have yet to read a convincing statement about who excommunicated whom first.  If Savonarola excommunicated the Pope, that's certain evidence of brass cojones.  It his excommunication was retaliatory, then it is nothing more than doubling down, which is understandable, the times being what they were.  But a key question in the recent effort to have Savonarola beatified is whether the excommunication by Alexander VI should be considered valid.  It is authentic, certainly, but was he holy enough that his bulls should be honored?  If not, was this evangelizing Dominican holy enough for beatification? 

Preach on, brother!
Judgment for me is easier, since hagiomajor is not a two thousand year old institution with millions of adherents and millions more critics.  I'm going to say he was a book-burning bastard who wanted to ruin all the fun in town, but that doesn't mean he wasn't a saint.  They tortured him into a false confession, forcing him to abjure his faith in what he preached, and then burned him at the stake on the strength of that confession.  That does make him a martyr for his faith, which is good enough around here. 

Congratulations Friar Girolamo, patron saint of censors and sanctimonious prigs.  If the weather's good, I will toss a vanity on the grill as I barbeque my dinner. 

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