The Prophet as Physician of Souls

Donald Weinstein

in Society and Individual in Renaissance Florence

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780520232549
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520928220 | DOI:
The Prophet as Physician of Souls

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This chapter presents a study of an often-ignored confessor's manual written by Girolamo Savonarola which reveals the friar at work in a role quite different from that of fiery preacher. It argues that the manual, which advises priests on questions of pastoral care, shows a “kinder, gentler” Savonarola. It explores one of Savonarola's least studied and, apparently, least regarded writings, the Confessionale pro instructione confessorum. The Confessionale is a short, succinct treatise, some forty-four folios. Confessors should interrogate married people about their sexual practices. The Confessionale's special focus on the problems of marriage, sexual behavior, and usury suggests that Savonarola was an attentive observer of life as it was lived by laymen and laywomen, that he knew at first hand which restraints chafed them most and which questions they most frequently brought before their confessors.

Keywords: Girolamo Savonarola; confessors; pastoral care; marriage; sexual behavior; usury

Chapter.  9146 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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