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Le petit peuple dans l’Occident médiéval

 | 
Pierre Boglioni
, 
Robert Delort
, 
Claude Gauvard

Troisième partie. Culture du petit peuple. Systèmes, conduites, valeurs

Technologies of Everyday Life: Magical Practices in the Inquisition of Modena xvi-xviith Centuries

Mary R. O’Neil

Texte intégral

  • 1 P. Burke, Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe (New York, 1978); for a more recent statement of (...)

1Preachers and synods throughout the Middle Ages denounced a wide range of magical beliefs, but the fullest documentation of these beliefs was produced during the 16th century «reform of popular culture»1 Heretics and Jews had formed most obvious obstacles to the full Christianization of medieval society, while the «ignorance and superstition» of ordinary people played an increasingly important role in 16th reform programs. A dramatically increased level of surveillance and social control were characteristic of both the Reformation and Counter-Reformation movements. New institutions, from the Calvinist consistory to the Inquisitions of Spain and Italy, put in place a routinized scrutiny of belief and behavior. These ecclesiastical tribunals brought the enforcement of orthodoxy to the local parish level, providing historians with a wealth of source material for the study of popular beliefs and mentalities.

  • 2 J. Toussaert, Le sentiment religieux en Flandre à la fin du Moyen Âge, Paris, 1963 and É. Delaruel (...)
  • 3 J.-Cl. Schmitt, «Religione populaire e culture folklorique», Annales ÉSC, 31 (1976), p.941-953.

2Popular magical beliefs were labeled by theologians as «superstitious», a category that measured their inverse or parasitic relationship to orthodox beliefs. Historians have only recently overcome this judgmental attitude to traditional magical beliefs, influenced by more detached, anthropological approaches to the historical study of religion. But the negative view is clearly visible in older works, like those of Toussaert and Delaruelle, where magical beliefs are treated as a miscellaneous, residual category reflecting the irrational, exaggerated fears and delusions of the «ignorant and superstitious» masses2. In an important discussion of this older tradition, Jean-Claude Schmitt called for a different approach to popular religion, one that would grant a «presumptive coherence» to the beliefs of illiterate people, and analyze their role in everyday life3 Classified as superstitious by theologians, these beliefs have often been glossed over as «miscellaneous» even by historians of popular culture. Viewing these procedures as a kind of «technology of everyday life» allows us to approach them with a presumption of coherence, in a manner that takes into account their social functions, as well as the broader social patterns underlying their usage.

  • 4 This research is the subject of my book manuscript, Healing and Harming: Inquisition Trials for Ma (...)

3This paper draws on the records of the Roman Inquisition in Modena, to examine the role of magical beliefs and practices in the everyday lives of peasants and artisans in 16th and early 17th century Italy4. Demonstrable continuities in the magical repertoire mean that these documents contain important evidence about beliefs transmitted orally in both urban and rural milieux throughout the middle ages. For a conference addressed to questions of terminology and perception, the most important terminological category to be considered here is that of superstition, and in particular the clerical perception of widespread «ignorance and superstition» among peasants, common people and women or muliericulae. These materials also document the reality of a social role that some of the common people occupied vis a vis the culture as a whole, that of specialists in traditional magical procedures. Used at all levels of Italian society to deal with routine problems, from sickness in people or animals, to the retrieval of lost and stolen objects, the knowledge of these «superstitious remedies» was the domain of a specialist sub-set of the common people. Many of these magical practitioners were prosecuted by the Roman Inquisition in 16-17th century Modena for continuing to offer their services despite the efforts to suppress them. The verbatim transcripts of their trials contain crucial background information both about defendants’ motivations and about the situations in which specific remedies were sought after and used.

  • 5 A. Biondi, «Lunga durata e microarticolazione nel territorio di un Ufficio dell’Inquisizione: il “ (...)

4A large proportion of the cases brought before the Holy Office in Modena originated not in the city itself, but in the surrounding countryside. Cases were referred from rural villages throughout Modenese territory, which included mountainous terrain of the Appenines, as well as the agricultural plain of the Po Valley. The enforcement of orthodoxy was extended geographically by a network of rural Vicars of the Inquisition, put in place throughout Italy from the 1560’s on. This institutional network achieved a remarkable penetration of the countryside, with only about three miles separating villages whose local priests were deputized as Vicars, authorized to take denunciations for crimes pertaining to the Holy Office5. The increased surveillance of belief and behavior provided by this vicarial system generated the great majority of cases heard by the Inquisition in Modena. In this rural milieu, the relevant crime was not heresy, but superstition and various forms of blasphemy, irrevence or non-observance of requirements for parochial conformity.

5Orthodox pressures introduced new complications into what had been far less problematic healing transactions. The testimony of older people tried for superstitious healing makes it clear that this was a «new crime», and that magical healing practices which had been tolerated, even if never condoned, had been criminalized within their lifetimes. If the orthodox campaign against superstitious healing were to succeed, individual healers would have to abandon their strong, if untutored, sense of the legitimacy of their healing techniques and internalize the church’s prohibitions. Testimony reflecting this transition emerges most clearly in trials of elderly healers, who had learned their cures in the 1530’s or 1540’s, before the reorganization of the Inquisition and well before the late sixteenth century campaign against superstition. A trial of 1621 against the 70 year old Angela Volastro illustrates some of the ways in which healers adapted to the new situation. Despite continued demand for cures, Angela had abbreviated her formula to conform to her understanding of the new orthodox standards.

  • 6 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 53, Contra Angela de Fumo Volastro, 4 August 1621; testimony of 16 August (...)

«I said the Sign of Cross, “In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, may this sickness not grow or go further ahead.” Formerly, many other words were added to this medication [...] but I did not want to say them because many years ago I was prohibited by my confessor [...] There were many women who did this thing, but after they were made aware of the sin, they all abandoned such medications.6»

6Since she had complied with the new requirements and had not used a prohibited formula, Angela’s case was dismissed without penalty (the «Sign of the Cross» was a standard element in popular healing procedures, so that these remedies were referred to by generic term «signing».)

  • 7 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 22, Contra Paolo Polaccio, 24 September 1603.
  • 8 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 63, Contra Domenica La Barbetta, testimony of Oliva Mantuano, 25 June 162 (...)

7Throughout the trial records, there are many such glimpses of older attitudes which assumed the innocence of magical cures. When the Rector of Pieve Pelagi asked who had given him authority to heal, Paolo Polaccio replied confidently: «no one authorized me, but this is a God given power (virtu da Dio) of which I have always made use, and never has anyone reproached me for it»7. Domenica Barbetta reassured clients that her signing «was not a sin since she did it for the children’s benefit and health, not for any evil purpose»8. But such assumptions were gradually overlaid with a growing, if selective, awareness of the Church’s prohibitions.

  • 9 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 31, Contra Magdalena Guidetta, detta la Pettona, 1607; testimony of 24 Ju (...)
  • 10 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 28, Contra Maria Lamberti, 30 September 1604.

8As the campaign against magical practices mounted, the costs to healers multiplied, including prohibitions against «signing» by their confessors, refusals of absolution, investigation by the Inquisition and the possibility of public penances. Testimony by healers clearly reflects the central role of confessors in enforcing the new standards of orthodoxy. Many claimed to have stopped after a confessor’s admonition, like Magdalena Guidetta, who «has not signed since Easter, when a priest refused to absolve her»9. An awareness of the consequences stopped Maria Lamberti from using a magical procedure she had learned; as she explained, «if I had used it, our priests would have made me go to Modena and would not have confessed me»10. But others misunderstood these same prohibitions, or interpreted them creatively in ways that permitted the healing system to operate with only minor adjustments into the 17th century.

9For instance, a traditional belief in the Modenese countryside credited carpenters with the power to heal a condition called ghultù, which in modern Italian refers to an inflammation of the parathyroid gland. As one witness explained, «it is said commonly that master carpenters (maestri di legname) have authority to sign with the mannara», a large blade used in wood working. This example of professional specialization in a craft-specific cure is suggestive of the parallel forms of transmission of trade secrets and healing techniques. When a prospective client requested this cure of Paolo Guaitoli in 1606, he complied, but in a manner that reflected his understanding of the new situation. He explained at his trial:

  • 11 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 27, Contra Paolo Guaitoli, 1606.

«My confessor has prohibited me from signing with the mannara, for this is held to be superstitious and diabolical. But because I was expressly prohibited from signing with the mannara, I believed I had been given permission to sign with my hand alone»11.

10Although this undoubtedly had not been the confessor’s intention, Paolo interpreted his emphasis on the objectionable nature of the mannara as permitting the identical procedure, minus the offending blade.

  • 12 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 9, Contra Peregrina Bardona, 1602, and busta 35, Contra Ursola Pontiroli, (...)

11Healers who continued to sign even after an express prohibition by their confessors had frequently absorbed the idea that it was the words, not the accompanying ritual actions, that made a procedure wrong. Peregrina Bardona urged a woman who was reluctant to participate in a magical witch detection method to «ask a priest, for this is not a sin if nothing is said». A sick man, «whose wife didn’t want anything done that shouldn’t be done», was told by Ursola Pontiroli that «she had confessed this remedy, and since nothing enters into it except the sign of the cross, it could be done without sin»12. The many similar accommodations made in the early seventeenth century provide evidence of the success of the orthodox campaign in penetrating people’s assumptions about magical healing. Such alterations also indicate the resilience of the traditional healing system in adapting itself, at least in the short run, in order to co-exist with the new prohibitions.

  • 13 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 44, Contra Genevra Pavana, 4 April 1616.
  • 14 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 34, Contra Benedetta Collechina,19 October 1609.

12The most basic of these adaptations was the growth of secrecy by healers. Because of the widespread custom that sickrooms were open to visitors, medical treatments of all kinds took place in the presence of multiple witnesses, including neighbors and passersby as well as family members. Healers often described similarly open situations in explaining how they had first learned their cures; but the Inquisitorial campaign against superstitious healing rendered such public settings dangerous. Many continued to perform their cures, although they now required discretion and silence from their clients. Genevra Pavana told clients that «she knew how to sign, but they don’t want to confess you if you do sign, so not to tell anyone she had done this»13. The success of the cure itself could be linked to the maintenance of secrecy, as in the case of a child who died despite having been signed by Benedetta Collechina. She maintained that «the child didn’t heal because its mother had revealed this matter to the Monsignore of Vignola», who threw away a cross which Benedetta had placed around the child’s neck14. In a similar manner, Betta Rinaldi told a client she could be

  • 15 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 42, Contra Betta wife of Paolo Rinaldi, 9 October 1612.

«freed from her malie (spells) if she passes under the tomb of San Gemignano [in the Modenese cathedral] and if she never makes this known; otherwise they would return worse than before»15.

13This desire for secrecy shows that the church’s admonitions and requirements were understood, even if often ignored.

14Many statements reflect healers’ less than complete acceptance of the church’s view that such activities were wrong. Even after two Inquisition trials, Genevra Pavana defiantly told witnesses, who testified at her third,

  • 16 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 58, Contra Genevra Pavana, testimony of Agnese Pavana, 24 February 1621, (...)

«that it wasn’t a sin to sign fevers and she wasn’t afraid of the priests, though Don Antonio would snoop from behind and Don Virginio from the front.... Let these priests do what they want, I want to sign illness»16.

  • 17 The penalty in her case was public whipping and exile, the maximum imposed by the Modenese Inquisi (...)

15As it happened, Don Antonio was Vicar of the Holy Office in Medolla, while Don Virginio was Rector of her parish church of Villa Franca and also served as Inquisitorial notary. Construed as disrespectful of the Holy Office, such comments combined with her recidivism to aggravate the case against her17.

16Because the Inquisition was officially a tribunal designed to try errors of belief, Genevra was subjected to intensive questioning about her statements that signing illness was not sinful. Her responses reveal a person caught between two different definitions of her healing activity.

  • 18 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 58, Contra Genevra Pavana, 3 March 1621.

I:

Why, if it was a sin and she had been forbidden by the Inquisitor, did she sign on various occasions.

R:

Father, I cannot stay long without signing because they beg me by the passion of Christ and his blessed mother that I sign them.

I:

Did she believe the words of the Reverend Father Inquisitor that it is a sin to sign.

R:

Father yes, I believe it is a sin...
She was warned to think more carefully because it states in the acts that she said she wanted to sign the above mentioned illnesses because it was not a sin.

R:

Father yes, I said I wanted to sign those children because it was not a sin.

I:

Why did she say it was not a sin, if she believed it was a sin.

R:

I said this that it was not a sin because those children that I signed were so sick and they begged me to sign them18.

17At least in court, Genevra was willing to accept the orthodox definition of her activity as sinful; but in her own milieu, faced with the urgent needs and requests of others, her earlier assumptions prevailed.

  • 19 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 25, Contra Annibale Capucciolo, 7 April 1604.
  • 20 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 33, Contra Ursola Pontiroli, 4 April 1608.

18Healers had to mediate between these conflicting interpretations of their activity in order to protect themselves, their clients and their assumptions of the innocence of healing from the orthodox view that these were necessarily sinful. Many of their statements reflect this conflict of definitions; Annibale Capucciolo reassured a client worried about a magical cure by saying: «Leave the sin to me, for it is not a sin at all, since he will be healed»19. Others accepted the definition of healing as sinful, but offered to serve directly as mediators, «taking the sin upon themselves», like Ursola Pontiroli who instructed her client Gemignano «not to confess, for it was enough if she confessed»20. At least one healer had arrived at her own, self-protective style of confessing, which she rather recklessly explained to the sister of the local Vicar of the Holy Office, who reported it to her brother.

  • 21 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 34, Contra Caterina, 1608.

«When Caterina confesses at the times established by the church, she says what she feels like, and what she wants them to know. But the more important and serious things, especially matters of strigarie, she doesn’t tell confessors or others. But in her own house, before an image of the Crucifix, she says everything and makes her complete confession there»21.

19Called before the Inquisition, Caterina confirmed this report, adding that it was «out of shame (vergogna) that I hold back those other things». This individual sense of shame can be traced to the broader conflict between the standards of appropriate behavior enforced in the confessional and those prevailing in Caterina’s immediate social environment; to protect the latter she imposed secrecy on herself, just as other healers did with their clients.

  • 22 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 18, Contra Bartolomea dei Baroni, 3 July 1602.

20As the campaign against magical healing progressed, healers displayed ever greater resistance to clients’ requests. The basic source of their reluctance was pressure from confessors, in the form of admonitions, prohibitions and withholding absolution. Confronted in 1602 with a request to perform a healing procedure, Bartolomea dei Baroni resisted, «saying she could no longer sign, for Don Bartolomeo scolded her, and didn’t want to confess her»22. Despite her hesitation, Bartolomea and many others eventually gave in to the demands of insistent clients. As Agnes Calzolaria explained in 1614:

  • 23 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 44, Contra Agnese Calzolaria, 16 October 1614.

«Don Antonio, the Signor Rector of Medolla, had told me before that it was a sin to do this signing. He prohibited me from signing, commanded me to stop, and said so much that I promised him not to do it ever again. But begged by Oliva, I did it anyway»23.

  • 24 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 42, Contra Santina Blondi da Fiumalbo, 24 June 1612.
  • 25 Contrary to the intentions of the Holy Office, such public penances could have the effect of adver (...)

21Behind the admonitions of confessors lay the threat of a summons «to Modena», a place that was synonymous with the Inquisition in the testimony of rural people. The 70 year old healer Santina Blondi «had been to Sestola before the Prior, and he wanted to send her to Modena, so she doesn’t medicate any more»24. Once called before the Inquisition, healers faced imprisonment during their trials, for periods ranging from a few days to several months. If found guilty, the standard penalty required standing in front of the parish church during mass on feast days, as a public humiliation and warning to others25.

22Reluctance and doubts grew on both sides, but in the absence or inadequacy of other solutions, the pull of traditional remedies remained strong. Healers newly prohibited from exercising their traditional functions experienced a palpable sense of displacement. When the prohibitions of the church were taken to heart, they found themselves unable to provide remedies thought to be effective and which they had long used with no sense of wrongdoing. A clear picture of their dilemma emerges in the 1609 trial of Giorgio Giorgii, a 70 year old, «tall, lame villicus» whose magical cure for skin tumors had come to the attention of the episcopal vicar some years before. As one witness explained:

  • 26 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 35, Contra Giorgio Gabriele de Giorgii, Don Pietro Andrea de Ricci Rector (...)

«I was in the mountains at San Andrea di Pelagi, when the former Vicar of the Bishop, Signor Hercole Simoncelli, learned that there was a custom there of using a certain incantation to heal an illness called cancer (can caro), which causes death in 24 hours, and can only be healed by means of a red hot iron (ferro affocato) or by that incantation. The Signor Vicar prohibited this incantation, saying it was not a thing that should be done, that it had to be done with the fire instead»26.

23Variously described as cancaro, carbone (terms which suggest malignant melanoma), or «the sickness of Saint Christofano», these rapidly growing tumors were fatal if untreated. Giorgio testified that the customary cure was performed by making the sign of the cross over the sick person, reciting several Our Fathers, Hail Marys and the following verse.

  • 27 Ibid., f. 7v. Three similar versions of this formula are recorded in the trial record; Giorgio Gio (...)

«There were three Holy Fathers, who went down a holy road, where they met the sickness of Saint Christofano. “O sickness of Saint Christofano, where are you going?”. “I want to go to the house of [naming that sick person], to lacerate, stain and waste his skin, and make his family unhappy.” “O sickness of San Christofano, don’t go to the house of [that person] to lacerate, stain and waste his skin, nor to make his family unhappy. I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to pass no further”.»27

  • 28 Ibid., Sentence of Don Pietro Andrea Ricci, f. 34r.

24The sources of such orally transmitted formulae are essentially untraceable, although two elements stand out: the personification of disease, which then enunciates its morbid and personalized intentions, and the attempt to exorcise or conjure it in Christ’s name. Such syncretic formulae were routinely classified by the court as incantations, this one involving «abuse of the Sign of the Holy Cross, the Lord’s Prayer, the Angelic Salutation, and a wholly false story about Saint Christopher»28. The local character of such remedies can be inferred from the fact that Giorgio’s is the only trial in the Modenese records involving a cure for this particular condition. Giorgio had brought it with him from the Roman countryside, where he had been raised, and it remained peripheral to the common stock of Modenese cures documented in these trials.

25The recently installed apparatus of rural control had uncovered a clearly magical procedure that was sought after and generally held to be effective. The gruesome natural remedy of burning with a red hot iron was an unattractive alternative, so official prohibition did not alter demand for the customary cure. Before the campaign against superstitious healing reached the Villa San Andrea, Giorgio had performed this cure for numerous people, all of whom, by his report and that of other witnesses, had been healed. But as soon as he learned of the vicar’s prohibition, Giorgio began to turn away clients, including his own relatives. This reversal placed him in a difficult position. The strain of being caught between the expectations of his community and the new requirements of orthodoxy is clear in his testimony:

  • 29 Testimony of Giorgio Giorgii, 23 September 1609, ASM, Inquisizione, busta 35, f. 7v.

«“I don’t know if I have done wrong; if I have, I ask pardon of God and of Your Reverence and I won’t do it again. A few days ago they brought my sister and a nephew with the same sickness and begged me to do this cure, but I didn’t want to do it. Just think for yourselves how much it pained me not to be able to do it.” And saying this, he wept.»29

26A pious and deferential person, Giorgio had taken the church’s prohibition seriously; his sister then turned to «a certain Baldassare di Steffano of San Andrea, who knows these words. [...] but it didn’t help her, for she died.» The personal price of Giorgio’s submission to the demands of orthodoxy was steep, for he believed he could have cured his sister’s condition and prevented her death. Perhaps in recognition of his effort to comply with the church’s requirements, Giorgio was given only the private penance of reciting three Paters and three Aves each day for a month.

  • 30 This phrase recurs in Inquisitorial sentences. «... in this our most Catholic and Pious jurisdicti (...)
  • 31 According to Gerald Strauss, Lutheran reformers of the late 16th century experienced a similar sen (...)

27The struggle against popular magic was, in principle, a straightforward campaign. Representatives of orthodoxy, strategically placed throughout the countryside, were to eliminate systematically all vestiges of superstitious error among the rural population. The apparatus of control might encounter temporary obstacles, but the underlying assumption was that continued vigilance would «preserve intact the purity of the Catholic faith»30. And yet, in the trials records from this period, there is a growing sense of frustration and impatience at the persistence of magical practices and other common offenses among the people31. The excuse of ignorance became less tenable, in the eyes of successive Inquisitors, with every passing decade.

28In 1626, almost two decades after his involvement in the trial of Giorgio Giorgii, the now elderly Vicar Steffani wrote a Memoriale secreto (one of several) to the new Inquisitor, Fra Jacobo Tinti da Lodi.

  • 32 Memoriale secreto addressed to the new Inquisitor Jacobo Tinti da Lodi in 1626; included in trial (...)

«I have governed these people for 42 years, encountering in the beginning much difficulty, carrying out my tasks only with great effort and against much opposition, because of the many abuses contrary to the spiritual life and to Christian rule, which were, in short, all completely eliminated, so that the condition of the church has steadily improved from good to better. But now it happens that new plants have been generated by bad humors, bad fathers or the excess of worldly license, which spreads boldly everywhere, so that these things will shortly become the rule unless the necessary provisions are made with a strong hand»32.

29Vicar Steffani was not alone in his concerns, for the earlier tendency to deal leniently and privately with superstitious offenses was supplanted in the 1620’s by a series of stronger measures. These included formal trials and public penances for clients as well as for healers, public whipping for repeat offenders and a total rejection of ignorance as a mitigating circumstance.

30Yet the malice imputed by the Inquisition to those who used magical spells remained on the human level of stubbornness or disobedience. Despite the presumptively diabolical source of any magical activity in orthodox theology, the Inquisition in Italy did not treat defendants as though they were, in any real sense, allied with the devil. Even when confronted with healers who had reputations as witches, the court’s interrogation and sentencing concentrated on their specific participation in any actual magical procedures rather than on possible ties to the devil. Through its network of local vicars, the Inquisition remained in close touch with the population and knew quite precisely what kinds of magic were practiced by the peasantry. This very familiarity kept the court’s agenda concrete and reality oriented, so that people were tried for the specific magical activities in which they had actually engaged, not for the diabolical fantasies that underlay northern witch trials.

  • 33 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 10, Contra Eugenia Claveria, 1599.

31Ultimately, the category of superstition was used by the Inquisition in a dismissive and rationalizing way. Abjurations written for convicted defendants pointed out that in turning to magical remedies, «God is offended, nor do you obtain through these means what you desire»33. The honor of God, and the jurisdictional need to assure that people turned only to the Church for assistance, required the elimination of such errors. But as the case of Giorgio Giorgii shows, a price was paid by individuals whose traditional sense of identity, competence and usefulness to others was rejected and criminalized. It is these face to face confrontations of the Inquisition as enforcer of orthodoxy with the otherwise faceless individuals of traditional society that makes these documents a compelling and indispensable source for the historical study of le petit peuple.

Notes

1 P. Burke, Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe (New York, 1978); for a more recent statement of the campaign as one against «popular technique», S. Clark, «The Rational Witch-Finder», in S. Pumfrey and P.L. Rossi eds, Science Culture and Popular Belief in Renaissance Europe (New York and London, 1991), p.222-248.

2 J. Toussaert, Le sentiment religieux en Flandre à la fin du Moyen Âge, Paris, 1963 and É. Delaruelle, La piété populaire au Moyen Âge, Turin, 1975.

3 J.-Cl. Schmitt, «Religione populaire e culture folklorique», Annales ÉSC, 31 (1976), p.941-953.

4 This research is the subject of my book manuscript, Healing and Harming: Inquisition Trials for Magical and Superstitious Offenses in Modena, Italy (in preparation).

5 A. Biondi, «Lunga durata e microarticolazione nel territorio di un Ufficio dell’Inquisizione: il “Sacro Tribunale” a Modena (1292-1785)», Annali dell’Istituto storico italo-germanico in Trento, 8 (1982), p.73-90.

6 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 53, Contra Angela de Fumo Volastro, 4 August 1621; testimony of 16 August 1621.

7 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 22, Contra Paolo Polaccio, 24 September 1603.

8 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 63, Contra Domenica La Barbetta, testimony of Oliva Mantuano, 25 June 1623.

9 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 31, Contra Magdalena Guidetta, detta la Pettona, 1607; testimony of 24 June 1611.

10 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 28, Contra Maria Lamberti, 30 September 1604.

11 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 27, Contra Paolo Guaitoli, 1606.

12 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 9, Contra Peregrina Bardona, 1602, and busta 35, Contra Ursola Pontiroli, 3 December 1609.

13 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 44, Contra Genevra Pavana, 4 April 1616.

14 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 34, Contra Benedetta Collechina,19 October 1609.

15 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 42, Contra Betta wife of Paolo Rinaldi, 9 October 1612.

16 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 58, Contra Genevra Pavana, testimony of Agnese Pavana, 24 February 1621, and of Cesare Tenchelis, 2 March 121.

17 The penalty in her case was public whipping and exile, the maximum imposed by the Modenese Inquisition in cases of superstition; the sentence of exile was commuted after a month. ASM, Inquisizione, busta 58, Contra Genevra Pavana, sentence of 10 March 1621; commutation of exile 24 April 1621.

18 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 58, Contra Genevra Pavana, 3 March 1621.

19 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 25, Contra Annibale Capucciolo, 7 April 1604.

20 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 33, Contra Ursola Pontiroli, 4 April 1608.

21 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 34, Contra Caterina, 1608.

22 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 18, Contra Bartolomea dei Baroni, 3 July 1602.

23 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 44, Contra Agnese Calzolaria, 16 October 1614.

24 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 42, Contra Santina Blondi da Fiumalbo, 24 June 1612.

25 Contrary to the intentions of the Holy Office, such public penances could have the effect of advertising the magical abilities of the person punished. Bartolomeo Altimani had learned of the healing abilities of Benedetta Collechina, the woman he called to heal his sick child, in just this way. «I know this woman because I saw her standing in front of the church in Vignola one feast day a few years ago while the Mass of the People was celebrated. She stood with a rope around her neck and had a lighted candle in her hand and also, if I remember, a sign on her back [...] because she had performed certain incantations». (ASM, Inquisizione, busta 34, Contra Benedetta la Collechina, 9 October 1609).

26 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 35, Contra Giorgio Gabriele de Giorgii, Don Pietro Andrea de Ricci Rector of San Andrea Pelagi and Bernardo Balthasari, 19 June 1608, testimony of Don Andrea Leoni of San Andrea, age 24, deacon, 12 March 1609, ff. 2r-3r.

27 Ibid., f. 7v. Three similar versions of this formula are recorded in the trial record; Giorgio Giorgii’s version is as follows: Erano tre Santi Padri che per una santa via se n’andavano, in tel mal di San Christofano s’incontravano, «O mal di San Christofano, dove vuoi tu andare?» «Io voglio andare a casa di Pelegrino per sua carne languir, per sua carne caltrire, per sua carne macolare, per sua famiglia mal contenta far!» «O mal di San Christofano, non gli andare, ne per sua carne caltrire, ne per sua carne languir, ne per sua carne macolare, ne per sua famiglia mal contenta far. A ti commando da parte di Giesù Christo, non passi da qui in su».

28 Ibid., Sentence of Don Pietro Andrea Ricci, f. 34r.

29 Testimony of Giorgio Giorgii, 23 September 1609, ASM, Inquisizione, busta 35, f. 7v.

30 This phrase recurs in Inquisitorial sentences. «... in this our most Catholic and Pious jurisdiction, where we struggle to maintain the purity of the Catholic faith...».

31 According to Gerald Strauss, Lutheran reformers of the late 16th century experienced a similar sense of disillusionment with their lack of success in evangelizing rural areas in Germany; see his «Success and Failure in the German Reformation», Past and Present, 67 (May 1975), and Luther’s Ptouse of Learning: the Indoctrination of the Young in the German Reformation (Baltimore, 1978).

32 Memoriale secreto addressed to the new Inquisitor Jacobo Tinti da Lodi in 1626; included in trial Contra Andrea Francesco de Rocca Pelagi, 31 August 1627, ASM, Inquisizione, busta 83; quoted by Biondi, «Lunga durata», p.87.

33 ASM, Inquisizione, busta 10, Contra Eugenia Claveria, 1599.

Auteur

University of Washington

© Éditions de la Sorbonne, 2002

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