THE AUGUSTINIANS AND THE RENAISSANCE (2)
Santo Spirito, Florence
While all this had been happening in Avignon and Padua and Arqua, the Augustinians in the community at the Church of Santo Spirito, Florence were gaining a wonderful influence over humanism locally.
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.
As well. there was the message that these ancient goals and ideals could be absorbed without also adopting their pagan spirit.
(Augnet has pages of text and a photo gallery on Santo Spirito.)
In 1351 Petrarch developed a friendship with the slightly older Giovanni Boccaccio (1313 - 1375), another great humanist.
Like Petrarch, he also had friends in the Order of Saint Augustine. In his struggle to overcome the more sensual side of his nature, Boccacio was in touch with the Augustinians at the Convento Santo Spirito in Florence.
It was there that Boccacio had wished to be buried. He died in 1375, weary of the world and having remorse about much of what he had written.
In his last will and testament of 28th August (the feast day of Saint Augustine) 1374, he left his many costly manuscripts to the Convento Santo Spirito of the Order of Saint Augustine in Florence.
The affinity of Petrarch and Boccaccio with the Augustinians was no doubt assisted by the influence that Augustine of Hippo had upon their thought, as upon that of Dante before them.
They were very familiar with Confessions and City of God by Augustine, not only as books but as the source or inspiration of some of the images that they used in their writing.
This also had been the case with Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) sixty years previously.
Luigi Marsigli O.S.A.
Soon after 1374, the Convento Santo Spirito in Florence was the venue for the first "academy" of the Renaissance.
This was an informal gathering place where modern thinkers, literati (writers) and artists met spontaneously for mutual support, debate, and the exchange of ideas.
This was the initiative of Luigi Marsigli O.S.A. (1342 – 1394). He was a humanist.
He had taught theology at the studium generale (international house of study) of the Order in Paris, and had exchanged letters with the aged Petrarch at Arqua.
He died at the age of fifty two years, but the academy at Santo Spirito continued.
Similar academies began under other auspices in Rome, Naples, and also a second academy opened in Florence.
Decades after the death of Luigi Marsigli O.S.A., another noted Augustinian humanist in the Convento Santo Spirito was Andrea Biglia O.S.A. (c. 1395 - 1435).
Born in Milan, he was a forceful and brilliant preacher, an active reader in philosophy and rhetoric, and an impartial historian.
(Continued on the next page.)