Savonarola’s last two works !

440J. Savonarola, Girolamo, 1452-1498

Jncipit Exposicio v[e]l Meditacio fr[at]is Hieronimi sauonarole de Ferraria ordi[ni]s p[rae]dicatorus in psalmu[m] Jn te d[omi]ne speraui. qua[m] i[n] vltimis dieb[us] du[m] vite sue fine[m] prestolaretur edidit.

(Exposicio in psalmum  XXXI In te domine speravi)., n.d. (prob. the ed. Magdenburg, Moritz Brandis), after 1500,     Price: $6,600

Quarto 20 x 15 cm. a4,b4.   (8) lvs.

This copy is rubricated in red, Bound modern boards covered with an incunable leaf. The First leaf with the incipit has the outer edges remargined; a few tiny wormholes throughout (mostly in the blank margins). 

Most likely third printed edition. (all editions are undated of this Savonarola’s last two works, first published 1498 Louvain?, 1499 Milan, 1500 Augsburg & or Magdeburg).

In 1497/8 The Dominican preacher Hieronymus Savonarola wrote these two text while in prison in Florence in 1498, charged with heresy, and having been found guilty was burned at the stake in that year. He  was a Catholic and a critic of the luxurious lives of the rulers, the Medici family, of the Florentian people and the corruption in the Catholic Church. His sermons resulted in the downfall of the ruling Medici family. Pope Alexander VI excommunicated him. 

 “  Savonarola , after his first ” examination ” was for nearly amonth of quiet in the little prison , which, after all, was notless spacious or comfortable than his cell. This resting timenthe victim employed in a manner befitting his characterand life. He wrote two meditations , one on the Miserere(5 1st Psalm) and the other on the 31 st Psalm, in which hepoured out his whole heart in communion with God. Withthe right hand which had been spared to him in diabolicalmercy that he might be able to sign the false papers whichwere intended to cover him with ignominy, he still had itin his power to leave a record of that intercourse with hisheavenly Master in which his stricken soul found strengthand comfort. Between the miserable lies of the notary Ceccone,over which those Florentine nobles in the palace werewrangling ; and the stillness of the little prison hung highin air over their heads, where a great soul in noble trustyet sadness approached its Maker, what a difference!” [E. H. PEROWNE, D.D. 1900 ]

These works are meditations and conversations with God and Savonarola alone and stand out among four other great texts dealing with one similar situation and three other texts on the same psalms. Savonarola’s texts are unlike Boethius’ Consolation of philosophy, it is not an allegoric apocalyptic dialogue, rather it is a recorded scene of one man bonding to /God. Unlike Saint Augustine not commentary and explanations of these psalms, unlike Saint Aquinas who formalizes and instructs his reader how to understand these psalms, and also unlike Martin Luther who said of Psalm 51, “A knowledge of this psalm is necessary and useful in many ways. It contains instruction about the chief parts of our religion, about repentance, sin, grace, and justification, as well as about the worship we ought to render to God. These are divine and heavenly doctrines. Unless they are taught by the great Spirit, they cannot enter the heart of man.” Savonarola’s text are painfully personal and heart wrenching.

Psalms 51& 30 (Psalms 50 & 31 in Septuagint numbering)

51 “Miserere Mei Deus” Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

30 “In te, Domine, speravi non confounder in æternum” In Thee, O Lord, have I put my trust, let me never be put to confusion.

Under torture Savonarola confessed to having invented his prophecies and visions, then recanted, then confessed again. In his prison cell in the tower of the government palace he composed meditations on Psalms 51 and 31.  On the morning of 23 May 1498, Savonarola and two other friars were led out into the main square where, before a tribunal of high clerics and government officials, they were condemned as heretics and schismatics, and sentenced to die forthwith. Stripped of their Dominican garments in ritual degradation, they mounted the scaffold in their thin white shirts. Each on a separate gallows, they were hanged, while fires were ignited below them to consume their bodies. To prevent devotees from searching for relics, their ashes were carted away and scattered in the Arno .

ISTC locates one U.S. copy. New Haven CT, Yale University, Beinecke. Worldwide number of holding institutions 20

Goff (suppl.); S-206a; BMC, II 601;  GW M40482 ; Hain-Copinger; 14412; Reichling; 1384; Audin de Rians, E. Bib.,; 138;      ISTC No.is00206500. United Kingdom   British Library (IA.10973)   

Cf. P. Scapecchi, Cat. Savonarola,; 87 (Catalogo delle edizioni di Girolamo Savonarola (secc. XV-XVI) possedute dalla Biblioteca nazionale centrale di Firenze)  

John Patrick Donnelly S.J Girolamo Savonarola, Prison Meditations on Psalms 51 and 31 Tr., Ed. . (Milwaukee, Marquette University Press, 1994).

 Martin Luther, Selected Psalms, in Luther’s Works, vols. 12-14 (St. Louis, MO: Concordia, 1974-1976), 12:305.