Archbishop of Florence, b. at Florence, 1 March, 1389; d. 2 May, 1459; known also by his baptismal name Antoninus (Anthony), which is found in his autographs, in some manuscripts, in printed editions of his works, and in the Bull of canonization, but which has been finally rejected for the diminutive form given him by his affectionate fellow-citizens. His parents, Niccolò and Thomasina Pierozzi, were in high standing, Niccolò beinga notary of the Florentine Republic. At the age of fifteen (1404) Antoninus applied to Bl. John Dominic, the great Italian religious reformer of theperiod, then at the Convent of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, for admission to the Dominican Order. It was not until a year later that he was accepted, and he was the first to receive the habit for the Convent of Fiesole about to be constructed by Bl. John Dominic. With Fra Angelico and Fra Bartolommeo, the one to become famous as a painter, the other as a miniaturist, he was sent to Cortona to make his novitiate under Bl. Lawrence of Ripafratta. Upon the completion of his year in the novitiate, he returned to Fiesole, where he remained until 1409, when with his brethren, all faithful adherents of Pope Gregory XII, he was constrained by the Florentines, who had refused obedience, to take shelter in the Convent of Foligno. A few years later he began his career as a zealous promoter of the reforms inaugurated by Bl. John Dominic. In 1414 he was vicar of the convent of Foligno, thenin turn sub-prior and prior of the convent of Cortona, and later prior of the convents of Rome (Minerva), Naples (Saint Peter Martyr), Gaeta, Sienna,and Fiesole (several times). From 1433 to 1446 he was vicar of the Tuscan Congregation formed by Bl. John Dominic of convents embracing a more rigorous discipline. During this period he established (1436) the famous convent of St. Mark in Florence, where he formed a remarkable community from thebrethren of the convent of Fiesole. It was at this time also that he built with the munificent aid of Cosimo de' Medici, the adjoining church, at the consecration of which Pope Eugene IV assisted (Epiphany, 1441). As a theologian he took part in the Council of Florence (1439) and gave hospitality in St. Mark's to the Dominican theologians called to the council by Eugene IV.
Despite all the efforts of St. Antoninus to escape ecclesiastical dignities, he was forced by Eugene IV, who had personal knowledge of his saintly character and administrative ability, to accept the Archbishopric of Florence. He was consecrated in the convent of Fiesole, 13 march, 1446, and immediately took possession of the see over which he ruled until his death. As he had laboured in the past for the upbuilding of the religious life throughout his Order, so he henceforth laboured for it in his diocese, devoting himself to the visitation of parishes and religious communities, the remedy ofabuses, the strengthening of discipline, the preaching of the Gospel, the amelioration of the condition of the poor, and the writing of books for clergy and laity. These labours were interrupted several times that he might act as ambassador for the Florentine Republic. Ill health prevented him from taking part in an embassy to the emperor in 1451, but in 1455 and again in 1458 he was at the head of embassies sent by the government to the Supreme Pontiff. He was called by Eugene IV to assist him in his dying hours. He was frequently consulted by Nicholas V on questions of Church and State, and was charged by Pius II to undertake, with several cardinals, the reform of the Roman Court. When his death occurred, 2 May, 1459, Pius II gave instructions for the funeral, and presided at it eight days later. He was canonized by Adrian VI, 31 May, 1523.
The literary productions of St. Antoninus, while giving evidence of the
eminently practical turn of his mind, show that he was a profound student of
history and theology. His principal work is the
Summa Theologica Moralis,
partibus IV distincta, written shortly before his death, which marked a new and
very considerable development in moral theology. It also contains a fund of
matter for the student of the history of the fifteenth century. Sowell developed
are its juridical elements that it has been published underthe title of Juris
Pontificii et Caesarei Summa. An attempt was lately made by Crohns (Die Summa
theologica des Antonin von Florenz und die Schätzung des Weibes im Hexenhammer,
Helsingfors, 1903) to trace the fundamentals principles of misogony, so manifest
Witchammer of the German Inquisitors, to this work of Antoninus. But
Paulus (Die Verachtung der Frau beim hl. Antonin, in Historisch-Politische
Blätter, 1904, pp. 812-830) has shown more clearly than several others,
especially the Italian writers, that this hypothesis is untenable, because based
on a reading of only a part of the
Summa of Antoninus. Within fifty years
after the first appearance of the work (Venice, 1477), fifteen editions were
printed at Venice, Spires, Nuremberg, Strasburg, Lyons, and Basle. Other
editions appeared in the following century. In 1740 it was published at Verona
in 4 folio volumes edited by P. Ballerini; and in 1841, at Florence by Mamachi
and Remedelli, O.P.
Of considerable importance are the manuals for confessors and penitents
containing abridgments, reproductions, and translations from the
frequently published in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries under the name of
St. Antoninus. An unsuccessful attempt has been made to show that he was not the
author of the Italian editions. At the most is should be granted that he
committed to others the task of editing one or two. The various editions and
titles of the manuals have caused confusion, and made it appear that there were
more than four distinct works. A careful distinction and classification is given
by Mandonnet in the
Dictionnaire de théologie catholique. Of value as throwing
light upon the home life of his time are his treatises on Christian life written
for women of the Medici family and first published in the last century under the
titles: - (1)
Opera a ben vivere…Con altri ammaestramenti, ed. Father Palermo,
one vol. (Florence, 1858) (2)
Regola di vita cristiana, one vol. (Florence,
1866). His letters (Lettere) were collected and edited, some for the first time
by Tommaso Corsetto, O.P., and published in one volume, at Florence, 1859.
Under the title,
Chronicon partibus tribus distincta ab initio mundi ad
MCCCLX (published also under the titles
Chronicorum opus and
opus), he wrote a general history of the world with the purpose of presenting
to his readers a view of the workings of divine providence. While he did not
give way to his imagination or colour facts, he often fell into the error, so
common among the chroniclers of his period, of accepting much that should
historical criticism has since rejected as untrue or doubtful. But this can be
said only of those parts in which he treated of early history. When writing of
the events and politics of his own age he exercised a judgment that has been of
the greatest value to later historians. The history was published at Venice,
1474-79, in four volumes of his
Opera Omnia (Venice, 1480; Nuremberg, 1484;
Basle, 1491; Lyons, 1517, 1527, 1585, 1586,1587). A work on preaching (De arte
et vero modo praedicandi) ran through four editions at the close of the
fifteenth century. The volume of sermons (Opus quadragesimalium et de sanctis
sermonum, sive flos florum) is the work of another, although published under the
name of St. Antoninus.
Unedited chronicles of the convents of St. Mark, Florence and St. Dominic, Fiesole: Quétif and Echard, SS. Ord. Praed.; Touron, Histoire des hommes illustres de l'ordre de S. Dominique; Maccarani, Vita di S. Antonino (Florence, 1708); Bartoli, Istoria dell' arcivescovo S. Antonino e de suoi più illustri discepoli (Florence, 1782); Moro, Di S. Antonino in relazione alla riforma cattolica nel sec. XV (Florence, 1899); Schaube, Die Quellen der Weltchronik des heiligen Antoninus (Hirschberg, 1880).
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