Liturgy, Sanctity and History in Tridentine Italy: Pietro Maria Campi and the Preservation of the Particular.
The volume under review tackles an original and hitherto-unexplored subject and is the brilliant result of vast research combined with a profound knowledge of the topic. The book aims "to provide the framework for a clearer understanding of the functions of hagiography in the period circa 1550-1700 and to suggest various uses that might be made of this seriously underexploited source for our comprehension of broader issues such as the implications of Tridentine reform at a local level; the origins of recognizably 'modern' historical method and, albeit in a tentative fashion, for the part such writing in Italy played in laying the foundations of national history writing" (5). The Piacentine priest and writer Pietro M. Campi (1569-1642) is the means for this thorough inspection of early modern Catholicism and historiography.
Divided into three parts concerning hagiography as liturgy, hagiography as history, and ecclesiastical history, Ditchfield's book shows how the Catholic effort to demonstrate the continuity of the Roman Church with its Apostolic origins (semper eadem) had important cultural side-effects. The well-known enterprises of Baronio's Annales ecclesiastici (1588-1607), Bolland's Acta sanctorum (started in 1642), the scarcely studied Ughelli's Italia sacra (1644-62), and numerous publications on local churches such as Campi's Dell'historia ecclesiastica di Piacenza (posthumous 1651-62) spring from this effort. Sharing a need for correct texts for the lectionary of saints, these works draw on trustworthy sources and a chronological presentation to emphasize liturgical continuity. The use of historical and philological methods was geared to the preparation of new editions of the service books, which removed inaccuracies that could confuse the reader. The reform, which started in Rome, had serious implications for local liturgies; in fact, Ditchfield's study testifies the strong cooperation of local dioceses with Rome in a common enterprise to purify Catholic Church. Thus the Tridentine reformation appears "less in terms of centre versus periphery, than as an attempt by Rome to particularize the universal [. . .] and to universalize the particular" (10). Campi's project to revise the Proper Offices of saints, Officia propria sanctorum ecclesiae placentinae, celebrated specifically by the Piacentine Church, has to be put in this context. The hagiography as liturgy needed extensive archival research into the city's ecclesiastical past and a rigorous scrutiny that was exercised by the Sacred Congregation of Rites and Ceremonies.
The revision of the Offices also implied a rethinking of hagiographical methods. The Bollandist systematic collection resulted in the diffusion of a new critical spirit that replaced the methods of the Golden Legend. The Vitae written by Campi on Piacentine saints also result from this urge to clean up hagiographical readings. The saint's life was completed by the history of his/her cult; for Campi the continuity of cult is itself proof of sanctity. The main purpose of this hagiography is to give models of virtue, to create a "scola di santita." In fact, Campi presents us with the models of Counter-Reformation sanctity: the martyr, the hermit, the well-born nun, the devout layman. Ditchfield particularly follows the enthralling personal story of Campi working for the creation of a universal cult of the Piacentine pope, Gregory X. Lacking money and the powerful support of a religious order or royal house, Campi fought heroically for his purpose, which was, like all hagiography, an important strand of civic identity.
The last part of the volume is an overview of ecclesiastical historiography. History was important both as a source of theological arguments and as a normative in the restoration of Catholic practice. After Baronio's Annales and Carlo Borromeo's appeal to collect sources on the history of local churches, there was an explosion in the field of particular ecclesiastical historiography and hagiography. Every diocese had its historian. Campi's Dell'historia ecclesiastica di Piacenza and Ughelli's Italia sacra were the results of an impressive erudition which in turn was the direct result of religious enthusiasm for the local church and collaborative activities with Rome.
Although centered on Campi, archivorum pervestigatore diligentissimo, this book shows the vitality and the importance of early modern Catholicism in the history of western thought. It becomes clear that liturgy is not only a means for understanding religion but also an important chapter in historiography.
ERMINIA ARDISSINO Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan
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|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Jun 22, 1998|
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