Savonarola, Borgia, Luther and … “The Band of the Hole”


Punctual as death on Calvary after the Lord has been battered along the Via Dolorosa, comes a new article anti-bergogliano by the Band of the Hole who to call for disobedience towards the “Church apostatic” and the “Pope heretic” uses this time Father Enrico Zoffoli [see article WHO] as had previously been attempted abuse of the figure of Father Divo Barsotti, to which he replied one of the fathers of the island of Patmos [WHO]. Since the bold “theologian” of the above Band followed to sow false history mostly based on extrapolations clumsy, The Editorial Board is pleased to publish an article archive of Father John Cavalcoli in which our distinguished Dominican theologian speaks just two of the figures abused through this latest quotation of a work used in a misleading way: Girolamo Savonarola and Alexander VI.


Author John Cavalcoli OP

John Cavalcoli OP



band of the hole

famous film of the same name Band of the Hole [see WHO]

Overall the current debate concerning the meaning to be given to the variety and multiplicity so diverse gestures, the behavior and teachings of the Supreme Pontiff, can be useful groped to shed light on the principles that should guide us to evaluate, as far as possible, a pontificate that next to all styles of traditional, exhibition of exploits that at first seem puzzling for their unusual compared to the behavior of previous Popes, going too far back in time. No need to give examples, which are visible to everyone, but certainly we enter into beef stockings. To this end I have decided to offer the reader the case of two giant personalities and famous in the history of Christianity, which, though lived many centuries ago, can provide insights and valuable lessons about the issue that we propose to how to judge the behavior of a Pontiff: what are the limits and scope of his authority, where good Catholic must obey quietly and where instead he is allowed to advance criticisms and reservations.

savonarola ferrara 2

statue to Girolamo Savonarola behind the Castello Estense in Ferrara and placed in front of the Archbishop's Palace

Savonarola much as Luther were the reformers of the Church: but what difference! While Savonarola starts from the idea that the Church has of itself as it is conceived by the Magisterium considering it conforms to the Gospel, Luther gets the belief that the essence of the Church that is presented by the papacy, falsifies the evangelical ideal and then pretends to correct the Pope on the concept of Church. Hence the logical consequences: while Savonarola reform, on line teaching of St. Catherine of Siena, is a matter of charity, ie to put into practice the truths of faith in obedience to the Pope Master, sparing the Pope branches and anchored recalls to do his duty, Luther is a matter of truth, in the sense that it is to restore to the Church its essence evangelical disfigured by the teachings of the papacy.

savonarola ferrara

Ferrara, statue to Girolamo Savonarola

Not of course that Savonarola did not take the truth, that, as a good Dominican, made it the North Star and the passion of his life and the cause of his martyrdom, but charity as precisely implementation of truth, fully and loyally by him accepted by the Magisterium of the Church. Even Luther, Certain, introduced himself as a supporter of the truth; but what we are to believe that his statement, when we see the stubbornness and unfairness with which refuses? So Savonarola, while rightly severe against the mores of Alexander VI, not even dream of him reproach in matters of doctrine, which fully respects the Successor of Peter, and even when at some point advocates the convening of a council, does it always implying that it must reform the Church under the leadership of the Pope, something that is totally alien from the initial appeal to the Council made by Luther; appeal, initially influenced by Hussite conciliarism, subsequently abandon, knowing that the Church is not inconceivable a council chaired by the Pope, the Pope that he challenged not only in his moral conduct, but right in its right to be Pope, thing that Savonarola was never absolutely mind. We do not make a Hussite Savonarola. You can depose a Pope, but not the Papacy.

savonarola ferrara 1

Ferrara, Another detail of the statue of Savonarola

The prophecy Savonarola adhered strictly to the examples of the biblical prophets, whereby, if one side was a call to fidelity to God, the other advocated strongly and uncompromising application of LookUp of God in the Church's life and in the same political life.
No wonder about it, we children of meekness and dialogue promoted by Vatican II, the severity of punishment divine and human threatened by Savonarola, that was part of the practices of the time with the same death penalty for criminals and heretics. The reform Savonarola Fiorentino State of evangelical inspiration, in stark contrast to Pharisaism pay Machiavelli, we must see it in his time. As Florence was corrupt, it was still a Christian society, very different from the modern secularist ideologically pluralistic society, not to say atheist, to rule which is not at all desirable or possible a Christian state and is already a lot being accepted fundamental human rights.
Some, come il From Pastor [1], they wanted to see in this conduct of Savonarola excessive severity and intransigence; but what they neglected to place in the mentality of the time, which did not spare even the Saints, as you may have many examples from history.

Luther 95 thesis

Luther and his 95 thesis

A different is the prophetic Lutheran, certainly also based on the Bible, but a Bible adulterated and interpreted in conflict with the Magisterium of the Church, therefore design ecclesial and political Lutheran could not misrepresent the true needs and perspectives of the Gospel. Interesting is also the difference concerning the excommunication that was imposed is to Savonarola that Luther, connected with what has been said. Both aroused the indignation of the Pope for their critical attitude towards him. But very different was the criticism of the Pope in Savonarola and Luther. Savonarola rebuked the immoral conduct of Alexander VI and opposed to its injustices based on good ethical principles and doctrinal, distinguishing between the fallibility of man by infallibility of the Vicar of Christ.

On the contrary, Luther, recklessly attacked the Pope and scriteriatamente just as the Vicar of Christ, accusing him of heresy, on the basis of principles and heretical drifting by a furious hatred and blasphemy.

savonarola alexander VI

portraits of Alexander VI and Girolamo Savonarola

Savonarola was excommunicated unjustly and envy by Pope Alexander VI, circumvented by false information, without any valid reason nor doctrinal, given the purity of his doctrine, nor moral, given the nobility of his virtues, and in addition to that the excommunication was invalid formally and why containing false accusations, and then nothing and legally unenforceable. He was later killed in an unfair trial and irregular, in hatred of the faith. Indeed, I hate the faith (hatred of faith) is not only that of the wicked and the heretic, but it may also be that of the believer, that, envy hates the believer falsely accusing him of heresy, what exactly did Alexander VI. Therefore it is lawful, about Savonarola, talk of martyrdom [2].

savonarola headstone

plaque placed in Piazza della Signoria in Florence, where Savonarola was hanged and then burned at the stake

It is disconcerting that Savonarola was sent to death like a criminal just from the one who was supposed to praise him and support him in his heroic battle for Christ, ie by the Vicar of Christ, Pope Alexander VI, blinded by hatred and deceived by the slanders of the enemies of the friar. In the tragedy of Savonarola we have the terrible episode of the father who kills his son.
The case of Savonarola is quite unique in the history of the papacy and the martiriologia: that same Pope who has the task from God to canonize the martyrs, executioner becomes a martyr. Note that Alexander VI properly celebrated the canonization. Savonarola instead martyred by Alexander VI. Incredible.
Since we see the delicacy, even if extreme opportunities, for the reasons that we say, a possible cause of beatification of Savonarola, Cause that, following a centuries-old devotion to the Martyr, it is also been advocated recently by the General Chapters of the Dominican Order on the basis of studies now final clarifiers, like those of Scaltriti.

In the Order Domenico and elsewhere, after the death of Savonarola arose two currents of opinion against him: a, too dutiful to the complaints of Alexander VI, headed by the Master of the Order Goacchino Turriani, current that spread its fame as “disobedient”, when the Pope himself regretted what he had done to Savonarola, while the successor Julius II said he would gladly done Santo; ed un'altra, wise and insightful, itemizing some saints like St. Catherine de’ Ricci, San Filippo Blacks and, in recent times, Blessed Giorgio Frassati, who worshiped him as a saint and as Martyr.

Luther doctrine

Lutheran doctrine

How different the posthumous fate of Lutheranism, that was shaped and configured to this day as a factor in a tragic division in the Church, that even ecumenism initiated by Vatican II failed to remedy and indeed foment other heresies, as that of modernism. No Catholic common sense to think holy Luther, that is contemptuous of the rest of the cult of the saints, unlike the Savonarola, devotion to the Saints beginning with the Blessed Virgin, and an object of veneration in the centuries until today. Savonarola fact is a perfect model and current Dominican preacher franc, brave, burning, observant, generous, lover of sound doctrine, of the Church and of souls. He therefore serves excellently to make people understand the difference between the Pope as Teacher of the Faith and the Pope as the supreme magistrate and universal pastor of the Church.


tiara used by Popes Paul VI until, the last who made use

The Pope is infallible in The power of teaching, not in direct with authority or jurisdiction nor is impeccable in moral conduct. In these fields can commit serious crimes, for which it comprises as Dante, who understood, could have put Boniface VIII in hell. There is no doubt that the Saints are model of obedience; but you have to finish it a good time to bring out a kind of supine obedience and fearful, a false obedience, which comes to be in practice a connivance with sin and a failure to bully. We obey the good and not evil. Whoever obeys the evil with the excuse of obedience is not a saint, but a hypocrite or a fake. This sacred truth must “shout it on the roofs”, finally put it out loud against all the bigots and the servants of the powerful. Santo is also those who reject the false obedience. This therefore does not need to assume the guise of the protesters sessantottino or the arrogance of Rahner or Mancuso, as figures of hypocrisy, but to obey God rather than men. It hit pretty hard real disobedient, as Luther and all heretics, instead of making the champions of freedom and reform.

Alexander VI

illuminated manuscript of the Christmas Mass of Alexander VI

Alexander VI, moreover, recognized, still living the friar, that the doctrine of Savonarola was Orthodox and himself, after having had him with a vain charges of disobedience, repented of serious act citing as an excuse to have been misinformed and excommunicated him outside of his intention (besides its mind). Scaltriti fact shows that the orders given to the Savonarola by Pope Alexander VI were unjust and illegal and therefore invalid. Hence the consequence of the invalidity of the excommunication by Pope motivated by the fact that Savonarola would have disobeyed. Savonarola vice versa immediately felt the injustice and then the legal nullity command papal, in that, showed clearly how he himself, were “against charity”, that is against the will of God and, as shown by St. Thomas, the unjust order of a superior, that is contrary to the law of God or the Church, does not deserve to be obeyed, because in this case “Such obedience was unlawful” [3]. So similarly for Aquinas excommunication, even papal, can be unfair or illegal and therefore null and void itself, and therefore without effect. In this case, the affected person remains entirely free from wrong and shameful decision and its consequences, so it keeps intact his honor and his good name at the good and faithful remain in communion with the Church and with the Pope, not as erred, but as Pope, Vicar of Christ. The fool makes the prelate who has excommunicated, was also the Pope, which is required to repair and restore to the innocent person affected his honor and his good name. L'says Aquinas: “if there is such an error on the part of the sentence, that sentence to be executed, has no effect, because there was no excommunication” [4]. With that same are to drop the disciplinary or punitive provisions related to excommunication.

Luther summons letter of Charles V

Letter from Charles V to Luther for his appearance in court

Luther, instead, as is known, was justly excommunicated by Pope Leo X with good reason based on his heresies and arrogance and obstinacy of his conduct. Since you see the abysmal difference that separates the conduct of Savonarola from Luther against the Pope. Savonarola knew where necessary to obey the Pope and where is it possible to resist. Because of this, in the case of Luther, serious was the fault of those who contemptuously of excommunication, rather than call it obedience to the Pope and to change his mind from his heresies, condescended to his fury heretical and anti-papal without taking any account of the value and the effects of the excommunication.

Lorenzo de Medici

youthful portrait of Lorenzo de’ Doctors

Savonarola excommunicated unjustly was executed; Luther, excommunicated rightly saved my skin. Some responsibility in these horrendous injustices have it certainly Family Doctors, a powerful Florentine dynasty, which was the birthplace for two centuries, just during the Renaissance neopaganism, many bishops and cardinals and even two Popes, Leo X and Clement VII, which mark a sad leading part in the history of Lutheranism, after the Doctors of the late fifteenth century contributed to the disgrace of Savonarola, in the head as they were to the debauchery, to luxury, greed and the excessive power of the political class Florentine, much scolded by vehement sermons of the Prophet Dominican, and also favored by the Pope. Luther instead made a tremendous confusion between the Pope and the Pope as a man as Pope, making the subject of his wicked and implacable hatred heretical figure of the Pope not only in his human, but also in his divine mission.

the salvation

the mystery of salvation

Savonarola much as Luther put it at the center of their interest in the salvation through the cross of Christ and will propose a reform of the Church in the light of the Gospel. However, deep are the differences. Savonarola making religious, intends to become a saint leaving the corrupt world. Loves regular observance and feels the need to fight against sin in society and in the Church correcting corrupt morality, the light of a perfectly orthodox faith and crystalline. Luther instead, fearing strongly and almost with fear of not save, you religious for increased security to save, ma, infected by a conception of man's relationship with God Occamistic, for which God is good but yes as to appear a despot hostile to man, while the man is saved by obeying God irrationally, does not arise in right relationship with God, because it can not reconcile in God's wisdom with goodness, mercy with severità, fear with love, the confidence with reverence. Reached a point of unbearable exasperation, as you know, Luther believed to receive divine illumination that, according to him, the “opened the doors of paradise”, became convinced enthusiastically, fanatical and obstinate that his idea, as if it were in play his eternal salvation and that of all humanity, so that he remained stuck for the rest of his life, the idea that God forgave him anyway, although it was still bound to sin and won by sin, making the idea that grace could coexist with sin.

Luther slide

the “reform” Lutheran

This explains the commitment hectic, prodigious and indefatigable Luther put all his life to spreading everywhere his idea, considering himself a messenger of the true Gospel contaminated by the Pope, and then feeding viepiù in the following years until his death a fierce hatred against the Pope, who had condemned his idea, reaffirming the traditional doctrine of justification. A time ignoring all attempts to dissuade Luther from this heresy. There was nothing to do, and indeed it eventually spread to Europe and the world in the following centuries until today. Luther thought even this principle, for which abused the Pauline concept of justification, as the cornerstone of the Christian faith, “article stand and fall Church“, and as is well known, managed to pull himself to a countless number of followers, precisely the so-called “Protestants”, without even the Tridentine reform was able to put a stop to this phenomenon.

None of this in Savonarola, who knew and accepted the true doctrine of justification and made the pin his spiritual life and his preaching, anticipating the decisions of the Council of Trent. Savonarola, following St. Thomas and the doctrine of the Church and of the Saints, not afraid to see God as a wise and merciful Father Judge and a just and merciful. Knows how to live this truth and knows transmit it to others. Thus Savonarola experiences the divine mercy without taking this, how does Luther, as a pretext to avoid the moral asceticism, the performance of good works, and the amendment of himself. For this Savonarola never feels the temptation to abandon the austerity of religious life, with the excuse advanced by Luther that good works, the sacrifices and penances are not sufficient to salvation, because he knows very well that the regular observance of religious and monks, moderate and well-regulated, is an essential factor, even if the secondary, the path of sanctification, unlike Luther, that, under the cloak of false idea that God always forgives, even if you have not repented, back to secular life giving to govern their passions and to curb the tendency to falsehood, proper to human reason darkened by sin.

savonarola video games

Savonarola image taken from a video-game Assassin's creed II, in which figure as a character

Is this lack of discipline of reason, infects occamismo, which combined with the pride and intoxication of success, Luther leads to heresy, something totally foreign to the spiritual path of Savonarola, who knows instead that the repentant sinner sin is really deleted, even if, On the evil inclination of the sons of Adam, sin again and again returns. But every time it can be deleted from grace. Instead Luther, under the pretext that the condition of the sinner is invincible, does not strive to overcome sin, but lies in it, enjoying sin with the excuse that so God forgives, and considering himself still forgiven.

Savonarola much as Luther are devoted to the Crucified, as divine salvation and atonement of sins, meaning but such devotion in the opposite way: while Savonarola sees in a crucified God that is in harmony with reason, asking the good works and therefore is a friend, Luther, misinterpreting the Pauline concept of the Cross as “scandal” [The Cor 1,23] of the Jews, and confusing evil of pain and evil of guilt, imagine you suffer with Christ without mend from sin, without the exercise of the right reason and that of the natural virtues, he despised as Pelagian pride and self-righteous before God of their works and their own merits.

As for the relationship between the Church and the State, different is the attitude of the Church and stateSavonarola and Luther. Savonarola feels strongly attracted by the duty to propose publicly to Florence the way in which the Gospel must serve the common good politician with marine biotoxins to the spiritual and moral welfare of the people and society, with regard to sin and righteousness. Even Luther conceives that Prince Christian must strive, as it is within its competence and in its power, to help the Church in incarnating the Gospel in history and in civil society. Both the one and the other give directives to the princes and citizens inspired by the Gospel.

Luther slide 2

political consequences of “reform” Lutheran

While yet to Savonarola Pope, exercising his ministry as the Vicar of Christ and temporal ruler of the Papal States, has the task, in the light of the Gospel, of supreme court, regulator and promoter of Christian principles, Luther, does not give the Pope no authority of this kind, but the Pope is at best a temporal sovereign like all other, plus the unfounded claim to represent Christ above all others. Thus for Luther the Church but need to be sorted and organized according to the Gospel, also for the implementation of its political mission as well as spiritual; However, the Church on earth does not need a single visible center of unity, a single central management, how would the Pope in Rome, but it is a community or a collegiality of Christians led to groups, principalities and nations by their respective pastors under the only heavenly guidance of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Luther headphones

Luther ended up giving life to a completely different music …

For Luther there is a Pope, supreme ruler of spiritual and earthly, above the principles, but every prince under the guidance of the Emperor of the Romans, is head of the Church for its territory, Whether it's right or of the whole principality of the Holy Roman Empire. Savonarola, for its part, he worked hard for the public good of Florence, favoring a republic, that he put under the kingship of Christ. He had estimated the project of the French King Charles VIII, who had convinced, following the preaching inflamed St. Joan of Arc, that France was chosen by God to defeat the Turks and liberate Jerusalem from Muslim rule. For this Savonarola strove because Florence, blocked the light of the Gospel projects lordship of the Medici family enemy of the King, and con's alleasse. Except, however, Charles VIII also considered a Pope Alexander VI simony and thus unlawful, why he thought even unseat and make Italy a territory of passage that would allow his troops to reach the Holy Land. For this reason the Pope hated Charles VIII, also for the fact that the Pontiff, sol pretext of being the Vicar of the Christ, to whom “has been given all authority in heaven and on earth”, forgetting the other sentence, in which the Lord before Pilate declares that his kingdom “not of this world”, aimed to expand through his family Borgia his domination in Italy. For this reason the Pope enjoined the Florentines to join the League, that the Pope had set up against France getting the support even of the Emperor Maximilian. But the Florentines, jealous of their freedom, impulse behind Savonarola, refused to obey the Pope, which he did raise his indignation against Savonarola, and led the Pope to add a new reason to accuse the brother of disobedience, When this did not affect anything in the interests of the Church and the kingdom of God, but only the expansionist ambitions of Pope Borgia.

Luther slide 4

destruction of Catholicism in the whole European countries

Vice versa, Lutheranism, since its origins, showed how false was his reform of the Church and how his evangelism enhancer interiority and consciousness actually hid mire temporalistiche, of which now will benefit the German princes to plunder the properties of Catholics, to strengthen their power, their independence and their rebellion against the Emperor Charles V, that zealously exemplary demanded by their acceptance of pontifical right steps against Luther and followers. A serious defect of the Renaissance prince, to which they could not escape even the Popes, thus including Alexander VI, was the thirst for personal domain – today we would say “dictatorship” – shores of the widest possible company, thirst well lumeggiata and exalted in the famous Prince of Machiavelli. Extend their domains was considered a normal goal, coveted and admired the strong man and a sign of heroism, even at the cost of eliminating unfair , now becoming “blow”, Now “Leo”, to use the expressions of the Florentine Secretary, opponents or pretenders to the same territory. This explains the many crimes of the Four / Five hundred, including the death of Savonarola. E’ sad to have to say, but it is so. Small and large families or clans, only that they have a certain prestige or economic or political power, Doctors from the Borgia, aspired, as it was then, at the “lordship”. Savonarola, on the contrary, mindful of political ethics of St. Thomas, for which the prince is not the artist that shapes the people, as if it were the subject of a work of art, but it's bearing misfortune congregation, thus anticipating the modern democracy, Florence worked for political status, basically realization by the ideal of brotherhood and Authority as evangelical as a service, who initially had great success, but that was soon frustrated by envy joint Medici and Borgia and the same fringe popular, — the so-called “bad companions” —, who preferred the lax regime, hedonistic and pagan Medici austerity evangelical and moral rigor of the prophet Dominican.

Educated both the religious poverty, Savonarola and Luther are totally alien to any aims of earthly power. Their only aspiration is the preaching of the Gospel to the building of the spiritual kingdom of Christ, with the marked difference, But, that, while Savonarola preaches the gospel in its purity in communion with the Magisterium of the Church, Luther preaches a gospel polluted heresy in rebellion against the Church. Savonarola, remained just as Christ, remains faithful to the Pope Master of the faith, despite the blows; Luther, defended from the wicked, rebels against the Pope who wants to correct its mistakes.

savonarola stake

image of the burning of Savonarola

Savonarola and Luther: two reformers, two rebels excommunicated. The first promotes real reform, the second promotes a false; the first rebels to sin; the second rebels against the Pope; the first, excommunicated and killed by innocent, the second excommunicated on the loose and even guilty. The first shows when the Pope can not go wrong. The second shows when the Pope knows condemn. A lesson for our day, in which all have their say on the Pope in season and out: we are the smart ones who would like to exploit for reasons of power posing as Catholics; to others what does the Pope is never good, rimpiangendo anacronisticamente i Papi pre-council.

The two great figures of Savonarola and Luther stand out in the centuries to teach us that you can die innocent people killed by the brothers of faith, while they can subsist in sin successfully giving to understand that they are the Catholics of the future.

Fontanellato, 2 February 2015


[1] L. From Pastor, History of the Popes, Unpaste&, Rome 1912, Vol. III, pp. 146-153
[2] All these data can be found in the book “The last Savonarola”, Pauline Editions, Rome 1976, well documented study of P.Giacinto Scaltriti, which for fifty years he cultivated an interest Savonarola. Cf also A. D'Amato, Savonarola martyr for truth, Faenza 1998. A good defense is the voice of Savonarola Savonarola Roberto Ridolfi, in the Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. X.
[3] QUESTION, II-II, q. 104, a. 5, 3m.
[4] QUESTION, Suppl., q. 21, a. 4.


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