Carmelite Chronicles
Bl. Baptist Spagnoli, of Mantua (1447-1516)

August 16, 2012 |

The most important literary figure the Order produced during the Renaissance was Bl. Baptist Spagnoli of Mantua.

After acquiring his doctorate in theology at the University of Bologna, Baptist resolved to devote himself to the Muse, but in fact much of his life was occupied in the affairs of the Congregation. He served six terms as vicar general and during that time won the right to the grey habit for the Congregation (1484), acquired the convent of San Crisogono in Rome (1486), and obtained the custody of the Holy House of Loreto (1489).

Nevertheless, the Mantuan found time to write an enormous amount of verse which has undergone hundreds of editions. Most famous are his Eclogues, composed before he entered Carmel.

The Mantuan was highly esteemed by his contemporaries, who considered him a second Virgil. His Eclogues particularly were taught in school in many countries. Samuel Johnson testifies that the Mantuan was read in the schools of England into the 18th century. Luther had been taught him. St. Peter Canisius recommended him. In Italy, the Mantuan was less cultivated, and knowledgeable Latinists had little regard for his style.

The Mantuan has left echoes in other authors, in Spenser, Milton, Shakespeare, Tasso, to mention only the most important.

From The Mirror of Carmel by Joachim Smet, O. Carm.

Fr. Joachim Smet O.Carm.
Fr. Joachim Smet, O.Carm. (1915-2011) was one of the leading historians of the Carmelite Order. In addition to being a founding member and President of the Institutum Carmelitanum in Rome and editor of Carmelus, a journal of Carmelite Studies, Fr. Joachim was a gifted writer. he is well-known for his four-volume work The Carmelites and his Life of Saint Peter Thomas. Among his other works: Familiar Matter of Today-Poems (2007), The Mirror of Carmel: A Brief History of the Carmelite Order, (2011), various publications on Carmelite Nuns, Carmelite Liturgy, Carmelite Libraries of Spain and Portugal and the Carmelites of Medieval England.
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