Saturday, September 26, 2015

Jourdan Hurtaud, O.P.: "Lettres de Savonarole aux princes chrétiens pour la réunion d'un concile" (Translation)

Stay tuned for full translation. Critical commentary to follow.

Jourdan Hurtaud, O.P.: "Lettres de Savonarole aux princes chrétiens pour la réunion d'un concile," Revue Thomiste 7, no. 44 (1900), 631-674 <>. 

The Letters of Savonarola to the Christian Princes for the Assembly of a Council

The pages devoted by Louis Pastor (1) to the Florentine reformer and the fair or harsh responses it has attracted poses again, not only in the heart of Piagnoni who faithfully guard the fervent cult of his memory, but to the opinion of the Catholic world, the Savonarola question. For four centuries, the trial is debated and the cause is still pending. Our intention is not, here at least, to throw us in full scrimmage and enter the intense debates; we only want to draw attention to one of the parts of the trial, which, we believe, has not been interpreted so far as it should be, neither by the most resolute opponents of the Frate, nor even by his most convinced apologists. We refer to the Letters to Christian princes for the meeting of a council. These letters, in the plan, were to be five in number, addressed to the Emperor, the King of France, the King and Queen of Spain, the King of England, and King of Hungary. Only the first three have been preserved. We give here in its entirety the letter to the Emperor; from the other two we adduce the passages relating to the council. From comparing different the literal interpretation and theological doctrine they express or to which they refer become more obvious. (1) History of the Popes From the Close of the Middle Ages, vol. V and VI.  

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Tsarevich Dimitry of Uglich Died Accidentally

Tsarevich Dimitry Ivanovich of Uglich (10/19/1582-5/15/1591), the youngest son of Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible, accidentally killed himself by stabbing himself with a knife during an epileptic fit.

Fr. Francis Dvornik says, "The reports on the death of the real Dmitrij were re-examined by G. Vernadsky (see Bibl.). He has rightly shown that the tsarevich's death was accidental and that Boris Godunov was unjustly accused of his murder. A complete bibliography on this problem is given in his study published in the Oxford Slav. Papers. On the spread of this legend see also A. A. Rudakov’s study in Ist oriceskie Zapiski, 12 (1941), pp. 154-283" (The Slavs in European History and Civilization, Rutgers University Press, 1962, 486 n. 1).

George Vernadsky points out that the testimony of the people who were in the courtyard at the time of the tsarevich's death ("Vasilisa Volokhova, Irina Tuchkova, Maria Samoylova, and the four boys, Dimitry's playmates") is to be preferred to the testimony of "witnesses" who were not (Tsaritsa Maria Feodorovna Nagaya and Mikhail Nagoy) -- see (The Death of the Tsarevich Dimitry: A Reconsideration of the Case, Oxford Slavonic Papers, Vol. V, 1954, 15-17). The Stledstevennoe Delo, the official investigative proceedings, is a more reliable source than the 17th century Russian chronicles (op. cit., 19).

The Catholic tsar False Dmitriy I was not the real Dmitry, nor was he the renegade monk Grigoriy Otrepyev, but he was not strictly an impostor (Thurston, Herbert. "Impostors." The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 9 Sept. 2015 <>); due to his upbringing by the boyars he genuinely believed he was the son of Ivan the Terrible (George Vernadsky, A History of Russia, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969, 116-117).

The above account renders unworthy of belief the story related by Bishop Nikolaj Velimirović of Ohrid and Žiča (Prologue from OhridJune 3), who is commemorated by Orthodox Christians on May 3, that Boris Gudonov murdered Dimitry. If Bishop Nikolaj meant that Dimitry posthumously appeared to a monk informing him that he was murdered by Boris, we must reject this alleged vision as unhistorical. I invite the reader to suggest whether a serious investigation by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints would affirm whether any of the alleged posthumous miracles by Dimitry are what Fr. Louis Monden, S.J. would call "major prodigies" with intrinsic apologetic value which would "by [their] context or circumstances suggest or confirm" an interpretation of doctrine opposed to the teachings of the Catholic Church; cf. my article "On Miracles Outside the Catholic Church," n. 7.

Symeon the New Theologian on Filioque

Glory to God in the highest.

The pneumatological teaching of Symeon the New Theologian (949-1012) is not antithetical to Filioque.

See Jacques-Paul Migne, Patrologia Graeca 120:331-332, where Symeon says that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father": "Deitas namque cum sit superessentialis, etiam et sola est immutabilis et invariabilis; estque tanquam mens, rationem et spiritum habens dicitrque Pater, Filii Pater (qui est quasi ratio) et productor Spiritus (2), quemadmodum item genitor rationis. Et cum Pater Deus nominator, simul cum Filio, ac Spiritu intelligitur. Quando demum Spiritus sanctus appellatur Deus, intelligitur eum ex Patre procedentem, etiam Filii spiritum esse, unione et discretion inexplicabili." The scholarly note (2) says that just as our Lord does not, in John 15:26, exclude the Filioque (cf. St. Augustine the Great, Homilies on John 99:6,8 and Against Maximus 2:14 [PL 42:770]), neither do Symeon's words exclude Filioque. Like some of the Church Fathers, Symeon simply makes the positive affirmation that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, without making the Photian denial that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son. Many Greek Fathers who made this simple affirmation also explicitly affirmed Filioque.

Jaroslav Pelikan is indefinite as to whether Symeon took the Catholic or Orthodox position on Filioque: "Although Simeon’s treatment of such dogmatic questions as the Filioque did not have a polemical tone and sometimes seemed rather confused, he demanded that the norm of teaching be 'the orthodox dogma of the apostolic and catholic church'" (The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 2: The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700), Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977, 256-257).

Symeon's feast is March 12 in the Orthodox churches (Hussey, J. M. "Symeon the New Theologian, Monk of the Studion." New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 13, 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003. 671-672). Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI rightly referred to him as "holy," though I have yet to confirm some Catholic brothers' references (here, here, and here) of his presence on some Eastern Catholic calendars. Constantinople was in union with Rome during Symeon's life, as the reader will understand if he consults these writings:
(1) Martin Jugie, A.A., Le schisme byzantin; aperçu historique et Doctrinal (Paris: P. Lethielleux, 1941)
(2) Siméon Vailhe, "Constantinople, Église de," Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique (Paris 1907), 3.2

I will do further research before October to see if any data contradicts my thesis, and to find any writings of Symeon that shed more light on his views on the procession of the Holy Spirit and on Rome. Constantinople was in union with Rome during Symeon's life, as the reader will understand if he consults the writings of Martin Jugie, A.A. and Simeon Vailhé. I will dig through Pelikan's work, the introductory notes in Migne, and the bibliography in Hussey's encyclopedia article, among other sources.