THE AUGUSTINIANS AND HUMANISM (3)
Artists, scholars, clergy and literati were drawn there by the presence of Luigi Marsigli O.S.A.* (died 1394), who was described as "the apostle and soul of the literary renaissance in Florence." (* This Augustinian is not to be confused with Count Luigi Marsigli 1685 -1730)
This constituted an important Augustinian association with humanism.
Luigi Marsigli O.S.A.(1342–1394) was a friend friar and confidant of Petrarch.
Marsigli has been described as "the apostle and soul of the literary renaissance in Florence."
With Petrarch he shared both a disdain for the teaching methods and scholarship of the universities of the day, and concern about the potential conflicts of classical learning and Christian faith.
After the death of Petrarch, under the stimulus of Marsigli the Convento Sancto Spirito in Florence became a sort of meeting place – a "literary academy" - for a very diverse group of clergy and laymen to discuss literature and to cultivate ancient wisdom.
The philosophy of Neoplatonism implicit in Dante and Petrarch became explicit in Luigi Marsigli O.S.A.; for his source, he largely relied on the Latin writers, such as Boethius. Most representatives of the new humanist movement preserved their close connection with the Church, although a few isolated forerunners of the great Protestant revolt of the sixteenth century already made their appearance.
A contemporary of Marsigli was Martin of Signa O.S.A., who like Marsigli a member of the Florentine community of Santo Spirito. While he was not a writer he did show a sensitivity to the literary output of the newly-developed humanism, according it both understanding and support. Martin was a friend and spiritual counselor for Giovanni Boccaccio in the last years of the writer's life. As testimony of this he provided in his will that his rich library should go to the community of Santo Spirito.
The goal of the Augustinian community at Santo Spirito in Florence with the Christian humanists was to draw them into its circle. The intention was to teach them that a revival of the Classics should consist in imitating a truly Latin style and the absorption of their great ideals without also adopting their pagan spirit.
As far as the influence of the thought of Augustine of Hippo on Christian humanism is concerned, what was promoted by Luigi Marsili in Florence was also promoted in Germany by Johann von Staupitz O.S.A., a who was a mentor and the religious superior of a younger Augustinian confrere, Martin Luther. Staupitz presented a synthesis of the Gospel and Christian humanism that greatly influenced the Protestant Reformation.
The premature death of Marsigli in 1394 did not interrupt this, because other contributions were made by Andrea Biglia O.S.A. (1395 -1435) of Milan who lived at the Convento Sancto Spirito in Florence.
He was born in Milan, was a forceful and brilliant preacher, an active reader in philosophy and rhetoric, and an impartial historian. Biglia was only forty years of age when he died of the Black Death, yet left his mark on Renaissance literature.
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