IAS is delighted to congratulate our former Junior Core fellow Pietro Delcorno on publishing two new articles and a book chapter on the topic of sermons that he was working at IAS (in Italian).
“Quaresimali ‘visibili’: Il serafino, il guerriero, il pellegrino” (Studi medievali, III ser., 60/2 (2019), pp. 645-688)
Abstract in English: Lenten sermon collections are fascinating and well-organized microcosms of late medieval religious culture. As ‘pragmatic’ texts, they were used by generations of preachers as precious tools to prepare intensified cycles of daily preaching, which were meant to shape the religious identity of the communities and people. In the elaboration of these complex preaching systems, innovative communicative strategies were experimented along the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. A peculiar place among the new typologies of preaching aids is held by those texts that can be labelled as ‘visible’ Lenten sermon collections: they were based on a constant solicitation of the imagination of the listeners, who were asked to see – with their inner eye – what the preacher told them from the pulpit. The article will analyse three different ways used by preachers to connect words and images in order to make ‘visible’ and ‘memorable’ their discourse for the audience. It will exemplify the techniques to structure a ‘visible’ Lenten sermon collection by analysing three collections, whose protagonists are a seraph, a soldier, and a pilgrim.
“Enea, la Sibilla e Dante: Primi appunti su un quaresimale virgiliano”, Cahiers d’études italiennes, 29 (2019)
Abstract in English: The article represents a first exploration of what can be defined the Lenten sermon collection of Aeneas, a text held in an incomplete form in Assisi, Biblioteca del Sacro Convento, Fondo Antico, ms. 557. The Lenten cycle is an early testimony of a new typology of sermon collection, which was framed as a macro-narrative. The Virgilian sermon collection follows closely the description of Aeneas’ descent to the Underworld by reinterpreting Virgil’s account according to a moral-allegorical exegesis, which allows to align it (reducere) to the Gospel. By using extensively the reference to Virgil in preaching the Christian afterlife, the preacher presented his audience with a hellish, didactic Aeneid, apt to the pulpit and further enriched by references to Dante’s Commedia. The study of this exceptional text, therefore, sheds light on the innovations in religious communication developed between late fourteenth and early fifteenth century as well as on the parallel debates about the use of ‘pagan’ poets in Christian paideia.
“Predicazione e persuasione: ‘A ogne cittade saria grande utilitade’”, in M.P. Alberzoni and M. Tessera, eds., Costruire il consenso: Modelli, pratiche e linguaggi tra medioevo ed età moderna (Milan: Vita e Pensiero, 2019), pp. 333-357.
Abstract in English: By focusing on the nexus between preaching and persuasion, this chapter highlights how sermons played an essential role in the construction of a cultural and political consensus in late medieval and early modern urban society. The contribution firstly summarizes the recent literature on preaching as medium of persuasion. Then, it discusses the way prominent figures such as Johannes Bromyard († c. 1352), Bernardino da Siena († 1444) and Joahnnes Geiler von Kaysersberg († 1510) reflected on the reasons of the success (or failure) of their sermons. Finally, the paper analyses the preacher’s struggle to obtain concrete and measurable results in ordinary situations as well as the way a preacher could face unexpected emergencies, either by contesting the civic authorities (hence, threatening to promote dissensus) or by using the pulpit as platform to organise a collective (political) initiative.