Menocchio

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Domenico Scandella (1532–1599), also known as Menocchio, was a miller from Montereale, Italy, who in the 16th century was tried by the Inquisition for his unorthodox religious views, and burnt at the stake for heresy in 1599. His life and beliefs are known from the Inquisition records, and have been the subject of the book The Cheese and the Worms by Carlo Ginzburg [1][2][3][4] and of the play “Menocchio” by Lillian Garrett-Groag. [5]

Biography[edit]

His parents were Zuane and Menega. He lived most of his life in Montereale, except for two years when he was banished from the town for brawling.

He had learned to read and read a number of contemporary works on religion and history. From these, he developed his religious views that departed substantially from Catholic orthodoxy of the time.

He was first tried for heresy in 1583, and abjured his statements in 1584, but spent another 20 months in prison in Concordia. Released in 1586, he claimed to have reformed. He continued to be in house arrest and had to wear a sign of a burning cross on his garments as a visible sign of his crimes. In 1598, he was arrested again as a lapsed heretic, having continued to propagate his beliefs. In 1599, he was declared a heresiarch and was executed by burning.

During his trial, he argued that the only sin was to harm one's neighbor and that to blaspheme caused no harm to anyone but the blasphemer. He went so far as to say that Jesus was born of man and Mary was not a virgin, that the Pope had no power given to him from God but simply exemplified the qualities of a good man, and that Christ had not died to "redeem humanity".[6]

Among the numerous accusations of blasphemy leveled against him, was a charge of contradicting the teachings of the Church on purgatory. Vicar Maro asked Menocchio were it true he had said that Masses for the dead were useless? (According to Giuliano Stefanut, the words spoken by Menocchio had been precisely: "What are you doing giving alms in memory of these few ashes?"). Menocchio replied that "I meant, that we should be concerned about helping each other while we are still in this world, because afterwards God is the one who governs over souls; the prayers and alms and Masses offered for the dead are done, as I understand it, for love of God, who then does as he pleases, because souls do not come to take those prayers and alms, and it belongs to the majesty of God to receive these good works either for the benefit of the living or the dead".[7]

On the 28th of April, He began by denouncing the way the rich tyrannized the poor in the courts by using such an incomprehensible language as Latin, stating "I think speaking Latin is a betrayal of the poor because in lawsuits the poor do not know what is being said and are crushed; and if they want to say four words they need a lawyer". Menocchio went on to say "And it seems to me that under our law, the pope, cardinals, and bishops are so great and rich that everything belongs to the church and to the priests, and they oppress the poor, who, if they work two rented fields, these will be fields that belong to the Church, to some bishop or cardinal".[8]

He further criticized the Church and Court proceedings by stating "God has given the Holy Spirit to all, to Christians, to heretics, to Turks, and to Jews; and he considers them all dear, and they are all saved in the same manner." And he concluded with a violent outburst against his judges and their doctrinal arrogance, proclaiming "You priests and monks, you too want to know more than God, and you are like the devil, and you want to become gods on earth, and know as much as God, following in the footsteps of the devil. In fact, the more one thinks he knows, the less he knows".[9]

In additional criticisms against the Church Menocchio declared that he rejected all the sacraments, including baptism, as human inventions, and mere "merchandise," instruments of exploitation and oppression in the hands of the clergy. He stated "I believe that the law and commandments of the Church are all a matter of business, and they make their living from this." Regarding baptism he states "I believe that as soon as we are born we are baptized, because God who has blessed all things, has baptized us; but this other baptism is an invention, and priests begin to consume souls even before they are born and continue to devour them even after their death." Regarding confirmation he stated "I believe it is a business, an invention of men, all of whom have the Holy Spirit; they seek to know and they know nothing." Regarding marriage he stated "God did not establish it, men did. Formerly a man and a woman would exchange vows, and this sufficed; later these human inventions followed." Regarding the priesthood he states "I believe the spirit of God dwells in all of us ... and I also believe that anyone who has studied can become a priest without being ordained, because it is all a business."[10]


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Levine, D., & Vahed, Z. (2001). Ginzburg's Menocchio: Refutations and Conjectures. Histoire sociale/Social History, 34(68).
  2. ^ Scandella, D., & Tedeschi, A. (1995). The Trials of Menocchio: The Complete Transcripts (1583-1599). A. Del Col (Ed.). Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, State University of New York at Binghamton.
  3. ^ William Monter.THE CANONIZATION OF DOMENICO SCANDELLA, ALIAS MENOCCHIO Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et Renaissance T. 63, No. 3 (2001), pp. 621-623
  4. ^ Zambelli, P. (1979). 'UNO, DUE, TRE, MILLE MENOCCHIO'-SPONTANEOUS GENERATION (OR THE PERSONAL COSMOGONY OF A 16TH-CENTURY MILLER). Archivio storico italiano, 137(499), 51-90.
  5. ^ "Menocchio". Berkeley Repertory Theatre. 2002. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  6. ^ Ginzburg, Carlo (1980). The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 39, 27, 17, 12.
  7. ^ Ginzburg, Carlo (1980). The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 8.
  8. ^ Ginzburg, Carlo (1980). The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 9.
  9. ^ Ginzburg, Carlo (1980). The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 10.
  10. ^ Ginzburg, Carlo (1980). The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 10.