Fire in the City (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
In Fire in the City, Lauro Martines describes the life of friar Girolamo Savonarola. He was born into a distinguished family in Ferrara and was the special pride of his grandfather Michele Savonarola, court physician and author of medical studies. The physician tutored the precocious grandson in Latin, preparing him for his great love of the Church fathers, including Jerome and Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. Savonarola studied art at the University of Ferrara and, for reasons not clear, turned against a world that he perceived as corrupt and authored a poem on the destruction of the world that attacked sodomy among the cardinals and bishops. Three years later, in 1475, he wrote “On the Ruin of the Church” and entered the convent of San Domenico in Bologna. In 1479 he was transferred to a convent in Ferrara and in 1482 to the convent of San Marco in Florence, where he taught theology and Scripture for five years before being moved around to various postings. Finally, in 1490 he returned to San Marco, where he was soon elected prior and stayed until his death.
The move back to Florence was arranged by Lorenzo de’ Medici (the Magnificent), urged on by Savonarola’s admirer Count Pico della Mirandola. Savonarola’s Advent sermons of 1490 earned him much attention but annoyed Lorenzo and others who resented his attack on corrupt clergy and the grasping rich. His prophecies of scourges, death, and renewal were especially offensive, as they...
(The entire section is 1739 words.)
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