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Settembre/Ottobre 2015


01. Editoriale

02. Gianfranco Hofer: Matthias Flacius Illiricus

03. ASLI: 2. Giornata teologica

04. NEV: Festa della Riforma. Le iniziative dei protestanti italiani

01. Editoriale

Cari Bollutori,
Vi scrivo nel giorno della Riforma (31 ottobre per chi non se lo ricordasse!). Non abbiamo ancora raggiunto i 500 anni della Riforma, ma questo mese il Bollut ha raggiunto i 500 iscritti, tutte persone che si sono iscritte autonomamente. Questo dimostra un certo interesse per la Riforma, interesse che spero aumenti ulteriormente nei prossimi due anni. Nel frattempo eccovi un nuovo Bollut interessante. Vi segnalo in particolare il link alla pagina facebook per la giornata teologica del 4 novembre.
Buona lettura!
Dieter Kampen (DK)

02. Gianfranco Hofer: Matthias Flacius Illiricus

L'Istria, al tempo della Riforma sotto il dominio veneziano, era, ormai per la quarta volta, luogo d'incontro di studiosi da ogni parte del mondo. Nella piccola cittadina Albona (Labin), città natale di Matthias Flacius, si è svolto dal 17-19 settembre il quarto convegno internazionale su Flacius. Questo riformatore è meno conosciuto in quanto appartiene alla seconda generazione della Riforma, ma ha avuto una notevole influenza. Era discepolo diretto di Lutero e, dopo la sua morte, ha difeso la purezza della sua teologia, dando inizio ai movimento dei cosiddetto gnesioluterani. Ringrazio di cuore Prof. Gianfranco Hofer, Trieste, per aver messo a disposizione la sua relazione che esamina i rapporti di Flacius con l'Italia. (DK)

Flacius Illiricus, Schwitzerland and Italy:
travels, relationships and influence of the reformer

By Gianfranco Hofer

The topic involves two very different countries, Switzerland and Italy, which Matija Vlačić partly visited and where he gathered contacts. It is not easy to trace exactly his travels and their reasons from his autobiographies, works, mentions by other authors, correspondence not edited jointly until now. The summary words of the article, a lecture in IV. internationale Tagung zu Mathias Flacuis Illyricus - Biographisches Kontexte, theologische Wirkungen, historische Rezeption organized by Leibniz Institut für Europȁische Geschichte of Mainz and by the town of Labin 17-19 Septmber 2015, will be further widen and documented in the publication of the Conference proceedings, now in preparation.

In 1570, because of problems with city Council of Strasbourg, Flacius tried to take up his residence in Basel, presented to the city by Antistes Simon Sulzer, with whom he was in contact and who appreciated him. Sulzer had no success in his initiative, and Bullinger blamed his intervention. In Basel, Vlačić had a good number of contacts: first as student for six months, later as author and promoter of book editions. The young Mathija transferred there from Augsburg to study theology, sent by Lykostenes (Bonifatius Wohlfahrt), Superintendent and Hebraist, probably following also the advice of his Venetian teacher Egnazio (Giambattista Cipelli), who was inclined to humanistic views for the Church Reformation. Starting with Simon Grynaeus, professor of New Testament and successor of Erasmus -in whose house he was received “as a son”- he attended Hebrew lessons upon Johannes Oporinus, who later printed many of his books with other seven editors in Basel, among them the Italian Pietro Perna. He entrenched friendly and precious contacts for his future of writer and reformer, continued sometime also by letters, as Basilius Amerbach, member of a family well deserving culture, Conrad Gessner, polymath and known as the “father of bibliography”, Wolfgang Wissenburg, theologian in Basel who wrote the foreword of his Antilogia Papae, Theodor Zwinger, physician and humanist scholar, and others. As a student in Basel, formerly in Augsburg and later in Tübingen and Wittemberg, Matija Vlačić cultivated friendships very useful in his troubled life.
An interesting question about his relationship with Switzerland is why Vlačić remained only one semester at Basel University. It may be because of the advice he received from his uncle Baldo Lupetino, who encouraged him to “plenius conoscendi Christi evangelium” in Germany. Flacius likely disagreed with discussions and differences between Swiss reformers and Luther, but a theological dissent could be a premature conclusion, considering his early stage of formation at the time. Besides, as Mijo Mirković wrote, he was suffering of loneliness, far from his environment and without moral and financial help from his family, contrary to his plans; likely showing some initial sign of a personal existential and religious crisis. Moving to Tübingen, he could obtain the support of his countryman Matija Grbac (Garbitius), attend the lessons of a Lutheran oriented University and work as a Greek private tutor, as well as deepen his knowledge of Hebrew with Johann Foster. After one year Garbitius and Joachim Liebhard (Camerarius) –both engaged in the reorganization of the university- decided to send the promising student to Wittemberg, where he also worked as a Greek and Hebrew private tutor, attending lessons at the University. There he overcame his crisis with Luther’s as well as Melanchthon’s help, rather similar to Luther’s one according to reports of his ancient biographers (sin, grace, predestination).
There is not much documentation about Switzerland in Flacius’ historic works. In Catalogus Testium veritatis he describes a clamorous episode, mirabilis historia, of frauds and quarrels between Dominican and Franciscan Friars in Bern in 1507 (Jetzerprozess); besides he wrote about the antipapal vision of Nicolas Helveticus, maybe for Luther’s preface on a booklet. In the collective woirk Ecclesiastica Historia, likely no longer organized by Vlačič himself for the centuries, one reads only something about the Church of Chur and the Basel diocese.
Switzerland remained important for editing many of his works; his contacts consisted in personal relationships with scholars and editors, rather than with authorities of churches and towns. Coming back from Venice to Germany in the summer 1552, Flacius visited Pier Paolo Vergerio for his project of Church history. The Italian refugee then wrote a letter to Bullinger about their encounter and discussion, mainly on disruptive differences on Eucharist among reformers. In general, his disagreement with Swiss reformers didn’t lead him to clamorous dissents, except with Calvinists. Among his personal books, he even held one of Bullinger’s and later, discussing Georg Major’s ideas, he considered on his side “quidam helvetici”, avoiding attacks against them.
His relationship with John Calvin was not easy: he asked him to collaborate for the Ecclesiastic History plan through Caspar von Niedbruck, but his response arrived too late and was fairly different from his project. Flacius found common elements with Calvin against “Interim” and in Osiander’s controversy, avoided to attack him directly, even when his contention against Calvinists became very hard, not only because of their ideas, but likely also of an aggressive attitude towards Lutheran Churches (Palatinate). In 1556, he wrote a booklet against Théodore de Bèze and his cavillationes on the Holy Supper, repeating and enlarging Luther’s arguments. The accusations of Crypto-Calvinism against Philip Melanchton and Wittenbergenses grew in his writings and in his action, moving against the catechism of Heidelberg and Caspar Olivianus. Vlačić sustained different opinions from Calvinism on the relationship between the New and the Old Testament, with consequences in the delicate matter of theological anthropology. During Flacius’ short stay in Antwerp, he firmly opposed Calvinists as well as Catholics, and among them already Jesuits.
After his death, there was not much attention given to Flacius in Switzerland, as the country remained far from his radical Lutheran views. Nevertheless, his books continued to circulate and Clavis Scripturae, his innovative work on biblical studies, was edited twice again in Basel, in 1617 and 1629.


Flacius’ relationship with Italy is different and complex, first of all with Venice which he visited with increasing difficulties three times for official contacts, cultural and religious interest, books trading and property problems in his homeland, here in Labin. Towards other territories of Italy, Vlačić operated rather indirectly gathering documents for Ecclesiastic History, very attentive also to the Trento’s Council and to the vicissitudes of Pope Paul IIIrd, his politics and family life.

Contacts and relationship with Venice

The special relationship of Flacius with Venice began in his formative years, very important for his cultural growth. After his first education in Labin at the convent of the Croat Minor Friars, and then upon Franciscus Ascerius from Milan as well as in Latin and probably Italian, he continued his studies in Venice at Egnatio’s St. Mark School, opening his mind and attention to the literary text and to ancient languages.
We do not have much information about his three travels to Venice and his contacts. In 1543, sent by Martin Luther and introduced by Ambassador of England Baldassare Altieri, Flacius went to Venice carrying a letter from Prince Johannes Friedrich von Saxony and Landgrave Philipp von Hesse, unfortunately distrusted by the Venetian Senate. His attempts gave no results in his uncle Baldo Lupetino’s freedom which by the time became an European problem, nor for the whished contact with Schmalkhalden Bund. Nonetheless he opened a way to contacts with Venetian authorities, which he tried to maintain someway later. His second visit took place in 1552 “ut ipse bibliothecas inspicerem et Vergerium aliosque quosdam pios ac doctos homines ad activandum hunc conatum excitarem”. Baldo Lupetino was living in a tolerant prison supported by friends, German merchants and countrymen, but Vlačić didn’t mention him in the documents at our disposal. He also visited Labin for patrimonial matters, and Padua University -while planning Historia- and finally Pier Paolo Vergerio in Switzerland. Some years before, in 1548, took place the tragedy of lawyer Francesco Spiera from Cittadella, near Padua, as he died fearing of having committed sin against the Holy Spirit. Rumors of this religious drama spread all around Europe. This is how Flacius came to write the foreword to one of the two German translations of Matteo Gribaldi‘s latin report, as the other translation was done by Melanchthon. In the wide discussion that followed, among different interpretations, Vlačić identified the event as an exemplar punishment also for “adiaphorists” abandoning the Reformation’s instances. He even warned the Doge Francesco Venerio and the Senators to avoid finishing their lives as Francesco Spiera. In 1563, at the time of Flacius’ third travel to Venice, Baldo Lupetino was already dead and the Council of Trento’s sessions were close to end. The actual reason for this third visit was to spread the Gospel, if possible allied with Venice, among Slavic peoples, till Istambul. Flacius passed through secure imperial territories going to Venice, Labin for patrimonial matters, and back to Regensburg, because of the hostile milieu in the Venetian Republic after Mühlberg. He appreciated acceptance of Reformation in Croatia, Carnia, Stiria, and interior Austria, on the contrary of the “mediocres” Venetians. Very useful were Flacius’contacts with Mathias Klombner and Primož Trubar in Carniola, interesting maybe also Italian editions, remaining some time in Ljubljana -introduced by Sebastian Krell.
Furthermore, he is the author of two relevant writings addressed to Venice’s Senators: a letter in 1565, disappeared, printed and sent again by him in 1570, as well as the introductive exhortation in De Sectis, very similar to the letter’s description of Venice people’s superstitions ad deceptions supported by catholic life, inviting Venetians to convert to the Gospel, to him, the only power able to win over the Turkish army, and offered some curious strategic advice for sea fight.
Notwithstanding the killing of his uncle Lupetino, the failure of his contacts and his letters, the distrust of the authorities, he continued to hope for a change of Venice towards Reformation, and for a renewed dissemination of the Christian faith, different from the ancient useless Crusades.

Attention towards the rest of Italy
I have no evidence of significant direct contacts with other territories or people in Italy, then divided in independent States. His attention towards Italy appears in the intensive propaganda and pamphlets against Rome and in promoting editions of manuscripts from past centuries he considered important.
Vlačić knew Italian, offering assistance to Melanchthon for his possible participation to the Trento Council, and certainly reading and quoting Italian texts, but I think he didn’t write any book in this language. An Italian book denying Apostle Peter’s visit to Rome, ascribed to Flacius by Oliver Olson, was probably written in 1520 by Ulricus Velenus Minhoniensis. The attribution is likely due to his common edition with two antipapal Latin texts written by Flacius, prepared for Italy. Also, there aren’t evidences to demonstrate his collaboration in the Croatian piece of Otrozhia Biblia, as Mijo Mirković thinks, written in five languages and published in Regensburg in 1556, not even in the Italian part of the Biblia. Finally, I don’t believe that the Croatian translation of Il Beneficio di Cristo is one of his. Attributed by Mirković again to Flacius, the successful Italian book was translated into French, English and Castilian; very close to Reformation but without explicit reference to it, the text is far from Vlačić radical views. The deep mark of his humanistic studies appears especially in his historical works, as well as in philosophical and juridical contents of other writings of his. Moreover, Flacius published Marsilio’s De translatione imperii as an appendix of one of his works, and owned an outline of Defensor Pacis, which he edited in several parts avoiding Marsilio’s name, with the intention of promoting it within Italy. I think it is because of Marsilio of Padua and Italian antipapal literature that his opinion on the relationship between political and religious authorities was different from Melanchthon’s. Another author Vlačić admired was the Italian poet Dante Alighieri –severe with Church authorities in his Divina Commedia – that he brought in his luggage as a student traveling to Germany; Flacius, who in his Catalogus appreciated De Monarchia, most likely promoted his printing in Basel by Oporinus in 1559 and 1566, as Vergerio had suggested. In the Catalogus testium veritatis are mentioned more than 30 Italians after the 10th century, as opposed to the increasing Roman centralism or presenting doctrinal and disciplinary elements, afterwards removed from the Latin Church, increasingly accordant to Rome. It may be curious to find among these testes Thomas Aquinas, who didn’t oppose to clergy marriage; he points out Constantine’s false donation to Pope St. Silvester unmasked by Lorenzo Valla, admitting the supremacy of the Pope upon all the Churches and the Empire. Flacius quotes some Francesco Petrarca’s Italian letters in their lively expressions: “Roma, schola de errori e tempio de heresia”, but he didn’t translate an antipapal work attributed to the Italian poet. With “Sancta” Catharina da Siena, Gerolamo Savonarola and others, is mentioned also Eneas Sylvius Piccolomini, diplomat, bishop of Triest and Siena, Pope, who changed his opinion on Council authority turning to papal superiority. Notwithstanding this, he appreciated Sylvius in his opinion on clergy marriage and as testis of Slavic language in liturgy. Among the forerunning movements, he esteemed the Waldenses and published some of their early documents from France and North Italy. Interested mainly in their presence in Bohemia, sometimes he misidentified them with other religious groups of the area. He looked over Bohemian reformer movements, fearing their disappearance, forced by the alliance of the Pope and the Emperor, as it had happened in the past. The information about Italy in Ecclesiastic History is rather rich, prevalent in the first millennium, probably found in libraries of other countries. After the 11th century, documentation about northern Europe was growing, exceeding Italy’s. Furthermore, there is information on Aquileia’s Patriarchate with his Eastern territories and Illyricum, especially on liturgy in Slavic language, allowed by Rome. In Abgsburg territories where he found appreciation, such as Triest and also Istria, his books remained hidden a long time in noble family houses, appearing in the 18th century in municipal or provincial libraries, no longer controlled by the clergy. In the Biblioteca Civica of Triest are conserved 116 work of his, most of them from 16th century,
Matija Vlačić followed the celebration of the Council of Trento through information and texts he acquired from attentive observers of countries adherent to Reformation, as Johannes Sleidanus, likely also upon some refugee, and in his travels to Italy. He referred to the Trento’s celebration as a conventicle, not as the expected Council of the prophetical words of Luther, which he recalled in the beginning of the second phase, in 1551. Even Pope Paul IIIrd and his crucial role against Reformation appears in his writings, reporting news about his ecclesiastic politics, his life and his son’s, Pier Luigi, as a testimony of the Papacy’s and Roman Court’s corruption, which he divulged with sarcasm.
After his death, Vlačić’s influence in Italy is undeniable and certainly stronger. Cesare Baronio and Roberto Bellarmino, leaders in cultural opposition to Reformation, revealed his indirect influence confuting his works, in a kind of dialectic beginning of modern Church history. Bellarmino in De translatione Imperii a Graecis ad Francos adversus Matthiam Flacium Illiricum, in some way takes Flacius’ (and Marsilo’s) titles. Baronio wrote his Annales ecclesiastici changing the original title Ecclesiastica Historia controversa, clearly referring to Flacius’ work. In subsequent centuries, the controversy continued without anything new; the only exception was Paolo Sarpi’s Historia del Concilio tridentino, somehow close to Reformation and to Flacius himself in what regarded the relationship between civil and ecclesiastic power.
In Italian lay culture -more and more autonomous from the Church- Vlaćič obtained no consideration, as a mere religious subject to leave to the Churches. Hardly at the end of the 18th century, scholars in Istria and in Croatia -influenced by German culture- perceived him not only as coherent in his ideas, but also as a valuable historian and important theologian, later, in 19th century, as a champion of freedom. The only translation into Italian of his works I know is a recent modest excerpta from Clavis Scripturae by Umberto Neri, a catholic theologian who, in the climate of the 2nd Vatican Council, expressed a well-balanced opinion on Flacius and his restless engagement as a reformer. Till now Matija Vlačić, mentioned sometimes for the Magdeburg Centuries, remains almost unknown in Italy, as well as his cultural contribution.

Gianfranco Hofer

03. ASLI: 2. Giornata teologica

L'ASLI – Accademia di Studi Luterani in Italia
Campo SS. Apostoli, Cannaregio 4448, 30124 Venezia

e l'ISE – Istituto di Studi Ecumenici San Bernardino

C/o Convento S. Francesco della Vigna

Castello 2786 - 30122 VENEZIA

e il Centro Internazionale Thomas More

Via Orti 3, 20122 Milano

                       ospitati dalla

Comunità Evangelica Luterana di Venezia

invitano alla

2. Giornata teologica - Giornata di studio

4 Novembre 2015, ore 14.30 – 18.30

Chiesa luterana, Campo Ss. Apostoli, Cannaregio 4448, 30121 Venezia

a piedi (consigliato) 20-25 min. dalla ferrovia, seguendo la strada principale

Vaporetto linea 1, fermata Ca' d'oro


A 600 anni dal Concilio di Costanza.

Il ruolo dei preriformatori

(Jan Hus, Girolamo da Praga e John Wyclif)


Ore 14.30: Apertura

Saluto della Comunità ospitante: Bernd Prigge

Saluto del Preside dell'ISE: Stefano Cavalli

Saluto Presidente dell'ASLI: Giorgio Ruffa

Saluto Presidente del Centro Intern. Thomas More: Giuseppe Gangale

Ore: 14.45: Relazioni

Michele Cassese: Il Concilio di Costanza

Roberto Giraldo: Istanze conciliariste di Basilea e Costanza

Franco Buzzi: La questione del conciliarismo con riferimento a Nikolaus von Kues

e il Concilio di Costanza

Ore 16-16.30 circa: Pausa lavori

Giuseppe Gangale: Girolamo da Praga: la voce del supplizio

Liana Bertoldi Lenoci: Le 33 tesi di John Wyclif

Paolo Ricca: Jan Hus

Riccardo Burigana: Con profondo rammarico. Il dialogo tra la Chiesa Cattolica e gli eredi di Jan Hus

Paolo Ricca: discussione e conclusione

Ore 18.30: conclusione lavori

Tutti sono benvenuti – ingresso libero

Collegamento alla pagina dell’evento su Facebook con la possibilità di invitare amici e condividere la notizia:

04. NEV: Festa della Riforma. Le iniziative dei protestanti italiani

Festa della Riforma. Le iniziative dei protestanti italiani

Roma (NEV), 28 ottobre 2015 – Venerdì prossimo i protestanti di tutto il mondo celebrano la
Festa della Riforma. Era infatti il 31 ottobre del 1517 quando il monaco agostiniano Martin Lutero
affisse le sue 95 tesi contro le indulgenze sul portone della chiesa del castello di Wittenberg in
Germania, atto che convenzionalmente viene considerato come l’inizio della Riforma protestante.
In Italia, le diverse chiese evangeliche ricordano questo avvenimento con culti, concerti,
conferenze e manifestazioni (vedi appuntamenti).
In occasione della Festa della Riforma di quest'anno la Società biblica in Italia (SBI) presenta un
saggio della nuova traduzione della Bibbia, sostenuta dalle chiese evangeliche italiane. Un
progetto, partito nel 2013, che prevede la pubblicazione entro il 31 ottobre del 2017,
Cinquecentenario della Riforma protestante, del Nuovo Testamento e dei Salmi. Il saggio di
traduzione riguarda le tre Epistole di Giovanni. Sempre per sottolineare la centralità della Bibbia
affermata dalla Riforma protestante, il Centro culturale valdese di Torre Pellice (TO) ha allestito la
mostra “Sola Scriptura. La presenza della Bibbia nelle chiese valdesi fra Ottocento e Novecento”
(31 ottobre – 18 dicembre 2015).
Tra i numerosi appuntamenti, segnaliamo due convegni. A Torino, sempre sabato 31 ottobre,
l'associazione evangelica “Più dell'oro” organizza il convegno “La Riforma protestante. Ieri, oggi,
domani”, al quale partecipano come oratori Simone Maghenzani, Tiziano Rimoldi, Carmine
Napolitano e Paolo Ricca. E' invece dedicato alla Prima Riforma il convegno che l'Accademia di
studi luterani in Italia (ASLI), insieme all'Istituto di studi ecumenici (ISE) San Bernardino e il
Centro internazionale “Thomas More”, organizza a Venezia con il titolo “A 600 anni dal Concilio di
Costanza. Il ruolo dei preriformatori: Jan Hus, Girolamo da Praga e John Wyclif”.
Infine, il prossimo 8 novembre, RAIDUE trasmetterà, a cura della rubrica “Protestantesimo”, il
Culto evangelico della Riforma dalla chiesa luterana St. Thomas di Strasburgo (Francia). La
predicazione sarà affidata alla pastora Margot Käßmann, ambasciatrice della Chiesa evangelica
in Germania (EKD) per il Cinquecentenario della Riforma protestante del 2017. Il culto sarà
anche l'occasione per il lancio dell'ultimo anno della Decade di Lutero, dedicato a “La Riforma e il

Fonte: NEV num 44 del 28 ottobre 2015

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