The Worlds Famous Orations. Continental Europe (3801906). 1906.
II. After His Excommunication
Girolamo Savonarola (145298)
Born in 1452, died in 1498; became a Monk in Bologna in 1475; Prior of St. Marks in Florence in 1491; secured the overthrow of the Medici, and the restoration of the Republic in 1494, being virtually Dictator; excommunicated in 1497; strangled and burned at the stake in 1498.
I TELL1 you that whoso opposes this work opposes Christ. Understand me well, O Rome! Whoso opposes this work opposes Christ. O Italy! Whoso opposes this work opposes Christ, O Christian people! If you oppose it you are fighting against Christ, and not against the friar. If you say that the priests of the Church are gathered together against me, I reply that this has come to pass that the prophecies might be fulfilled, even as in our Lords passion many things were done that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. In this, your hour, you make me perforce a prophet; for you know well that long ago, and repeatedly, I foretold the opposition of the priesthood and of the wicked.
And I tell you that a new time is coming; and great wars are at hand and we must sustain a more severe contest than that in which we are now engaged. O Lord, I do not ask for peace. War! war! war! is my cry. War, I mean, with the devil: for it is enough to be at peace with Christ. As for the excommunication, which is said by some to be null in the sight of God, but externally binding, it is enough for me that I am not bound in the sight of Christ (da Christo), and that He should bless me. Oh, my Lord, I turn to Thee and I say: If ever I should seek absolution from this excommunication send me to help! I should fear to commit a mortal sin were I to seek absolution.
As for those who fear lest they, too, should incur excommunication by coming to hear my sermons, I ask: Is it a sin to preach? Is preaching a crime? If the author of the excommunication were to say so he would contradict the Gospel. Oh, but you say, I mean because of the disobedience. And I say that if the law were observed which forbids that any one be made a Doctor of Divinity or a Canon without sufficient learning, there would not be so much ignorance among us.
Note 1. From his sermon on Septuagesima Sunday, 1498 (Feb. 11th), preached in the Duomo of Florence, notwithstanding, says Lucas, the efforts made by the vicar-general to prevent this. Savonarolas arrest followed in April of this year. [back]