Blessed John of Parma
was an Italian Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....
, and Minister General of the Friars Minor (1247–1257).
Giovanni (John in English) was born at Parma
Parma is a city in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna famous for its ham, its cheese, its architecture and the fine countryside around it. This is the home of the University of Parma, one of the oldest universities in the world....
about 1209; his family name was probably Buralli. Educated by an uncle, chaplain of the church of St. Lazarus at Parma, his progress in learning was such that he quickly became a teacher of philosophy (magister logicæ
). When and where he entered the Order of Friars Minor (commonly called the "Franciscans"), the old sources do not say. Affò
Ireneo Affò known in Italy as Irenaeus, was an art historian, writer, and numismatist Italian belonging to the Order of Friars Minor Observant, or Franciscan friar.- Personal background :...
assigns 1233 as the year, and Parma as the probable place. Ordained priest, he taught theology at the University of Bologna
The Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna is the oldest continually operating university in the world, the word 'universitas' being first used by this institution at its foundation. The true date of its founding is uncertain, but believed by most accounts to have been 1088...
and the University of Naples, and finally read the "Sentences" at the University of Paris
The University of Paris was a university located in Paris, France and one of the earliest to be established in Europe. It was founded in the mid 12th century, and officially recognized as a university probably between 1160 and 1250...
, after having assisted at the First Council of Lyons, 1245.
At the general chapter of the order at Lyons in July, 1247, he was elected minister general
Minister General is the term used for the Superior General of the different branches of the Franciscan Order. It is a term exclusive to them, and comes directly from its founder, St. Francis of Assisi....
, which office he held till 2 February 1257. The spirit that animated the new general, and of his purposes for the full observance of the rule, reflects from the joy recorded by Angelus Clarenus among the survivors of St. Francis's first companions at his election, though Brother Giles's words sound somewhat pessimistic: "Welcome, Father, but you come late".
John set to work immediately. Wishing to know personally the state of the order, he began visiting the order's different provinces. His first visit was to England, with which he was extremely satisfied, and where he was received by Henry III of England
Henry III was the son and successor of John as King of England, reigning for 56 years from 1216 until his death. His contemporaries knew him as Henry of Winchester. He was the first child king in England since the reign of Æthelred the Unready...
(Anal. Franc., I, 252). At Sens
Sens is a commune in the Yonne department in Burgundy in north-central France.Sens is a sub-prefecture of the department. It is crossed by the Yonne and the Vanne, which empties into the Yonne here.-History:...
in France, King Louis IX honoured with his presence the provincial chapter held by John.
Having visited the provinces of Burgundy and of Provence, he set out in September 1248, for Spain, whence Innocent IV recalled him to entrust him with an embassy to the East. Before departing, John appears to have held the General Chapter of Metz in 1249 (others put it after the embassy, 1251). It was at this chapter that John refused to draw up new statutes to avoid overburdening the friars. Only some new rubrics were promulgated, which in a later chapter in Genoa (1254) were included in the official ceremonial of the order. The object of John's embassy to the East was the reunion of the Orthodox Church, whose representatives he met at Nice
Nice is the fifth most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse, with a population of 348,721 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of more than 955,000 on an area of...
, and who saluted him as "angel of peace". John's mission bore no immediate fruit, though it may have prepared the way for the union decreed at the Council of Lyons in 1274.
In his generalate occurred also the famous dispute between the Mendicants and the Sorbonne University of Paris. According to Salimbene, John went to Paris (probably in 1253), and, by his mild yet strenuous arguments, strove to secure peace. It was in connection with this attack on the Dominicans and the Franciscans that John of Parma and Humbert of Romans, Master General of the Dominicans, published at Milan in 1255 a letter recommending peace and harmony between the two orders (text in Wadding, 111, 380). In the "Introductorius in Evangelium Æternum" of Gerard of S. Donnino (1254), John's friend, Humbert, was denounced by the professors of Paris and condemned by a commission at Anagni in 1256; John himself was in some way compromised—a circumstance which, combined with others, finally brought about the end of his generalate. He convoked a general chapter at Rome on 2 February 1257. If Peregrinus of Bologna is correct, Pope Alexander IV
Pope Alexander IV was Pope from 1254 until his death.Born as Rinaldo di Jenne, in Jenne , he was, on his mother's side, a member of the de' Conti di Segni family, the counts of Segni, like Pope Innocent III and Pope Gregory IX...
secretly intimated to John that he should resign, and decline reelection should it be offered him, while Salimbene insists that John resigned of his own free will. The Pope may have exerted some pressure on John, who was only too glad to resign, seeing himself unable to promote henceforth the good of the order. Questioned as to the choice of a successor, he proposed St. Bonaventure, who had succeeded him as professor at Paris.
John retired to the Hermitage of Greccio near Rieti
Rieti is a city and comune in Lazio, central Italy, with a population of c. 47,700. It is the capital of province of Rieti.The town centre rests on a small hilltop, commanding a wide plain at the southern edge of an ancient lake. The area is now the fertile basin of the Velino River...
, memorable for the Christmas celebrated there by St. Francis. There he lived in voluntary exile and complete solitude; his cell near a rock is still shown. But another trial awaited him. Accused of Joachimism, he was submitted to a canonical process at Cittá della Pieve
Città della Pieve is a comune in the Province of Perugia in the Italian region Umbria, located about southeast of Perugia. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 7,366 and an area of ....
(in Umbria), presided over by St. Bonaventure
Saint Bonaventure, O.F.M., , born John of Fidanza , was an Italian medieval scholastic theologian and philosopher. The seventh Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, he was also a Cardinal Bishop of Albano. He was canonized on 14 April 1482 by Pope Sixtus IV and declared a Doctor of the...
and Cardinal John Gaetano Orsini, protector of the order. The mention of this cardinal as protector brings us to a chronological difficulty, overlooked by writers who assign the process against John to 1257; for Alexander IV (1254–61) retained the protectorship.
Angelus Clarenus tells us that the concealed motive of this process was John's attachment to the literal observance of the rule; the accusation of Joachimism, against which he professed his Catholic faith, being only a pretext. Other sources, however, speak of retractation. Clarenus relates that John would have been condemned had it not been for the powerful intervention of Innocent IV's nephew, Cardinal Ottoboni Fioschi, later Pope Hadrian V. John certainly did not profess the dogmatical errors of Joachimism, though he may have held some of its apocalyptic ideas.
Upon his acquittal, he returned to Greccio and continued his life of prayer and work. It was there, it is said, that an angel once served his Mass, and that in 1285 he received the visit of Ubertin of Casale, who has left an account of this meeting. Hearing that the Orthodox were abandoning the union agreed upon in 1274, John, now 80 years old, desired to use his last energies in the cause of union. He obtained permission of Pope Nicolas IV to go to Greece, but only traveled as far as Camerino (in the Marches of Ancona), where he died in the convent of the friars on 19 March 1289.
He was beatified in 1777; his feast is kept on 20 March.
With the exception of his letters, scarcely any literary work can, with surety, be attributed to John.
He is certainly not the author of the "Introductorius in Evangel. Æternum", nor of the "Visio Fratris Johannis de Parma".
With more probability can we attribute to John the "Dialogus de vitia ss. Fratrum Minorum", partly edited by L. Lemmens, O.F.M. (Rome, 1902). The "Chronicle of the XXIV Generals" ascribes to John the allegoric treatise on poverty: "Sacrum Commercium B. Francisci cum Domina Paupertate" (ed. Milan, 1539), edited by Ed. d'Alençon (Paris and Rome, 1900), who ascribes it (without sufficient reason) to John Parent. Carmichael has translated this edition: "The Lady Poverty, a thirteenth-century allegory" (London, 1901); another English translation is by Rawnsly (London, 1904); a good introduction and abridged version is given by Macdonell, "Sons of Francis", 189-213.
Other works are mentioned by Sbaralea
Giovanni or Gian Giacinto Sbaraglia , otherwise Joannes Hyacinthus Sbaralea, was a historian of the Franciscan Order.Works include Supplementum et castigatio ad scriptores trium ordinum S. Francisi and...
, "Suppl. ad Script." (Rome, 1806), 398.
- Salimbene, Chronica (Parma, 1857), ed. also by HOLDER-EGGER in Mon. Gern. Hist.: Script., XXXII (Hanover, 1905-8)
- Angelus Clarenus, Chronicon seu Historia septem tribulationum ordinis minorum, partly edited by Ehrle in Arch. Für Litt. u. Kirchengesch., II (Berlin, 1886), 249 sqq., and by Ignaz von Döllinger, Beiträge zur Sektengesch., II (Munich, 1890), 417 sqq
- Anal. Francisce., I (Quaracchi, 1885), 217 sqq.; III (Quaracchi, 1897); Archivum Francisanum Historicum, II (Quaracchi, 1909), 433-39; Bull. Franc., I (Rome, 1759); II (Rome, 1761)
- Suppl. ad Bull. Franc. of Flaminius Annibali de Latera
Flaminius Annibali de Latera was an Italian historian.He received his first education from a priest, Paolo Ferranti, and at the age of sixteen entered the Order of Friars Minor Observants in the Roman Province, taking the habit at the convent of St...
- Konrad Eubel
Konrad Eubel or Conradus Eubel was a German Franciscan historian. He is known for his reference work, the Hierarchia Catholica Medii Aevi, on medieval popes, cardinals and bishops. It appeared in three volumes, beginning in 1898...
, editor, Bullarii Franciscani Epitome sive Summa Bullarum (Quaracchi, 1908)
- Collection of good texts, especially referring to missions in the East: Golubovich, Biblioteca bio-bibliografica di Terra Santa, I (Quaracchi, 1906), 219-228
- Luke Wadding
Luke Wadding was an Irish Franciscan friar and historian.-Life:Wadding was born in 16 October 1588 at Waterford to Walter Wadding of Waterford, a wealthy merchant, and his wife, Anastasia Lombard . Educated at the school of Mrs...
, Annales, III, IV (2nd ed., Rome, 1732).
- Anne Macdonell, Sons of Francis (London, 1902), 214-51
- Léon [DE, CLARY], Lives of the Saints and Blessed of the Three Orders of St. Francis, I (Taunton, I885), 493-513.
There are three Italian lives with the title Vita del Beato Giovanni da Parma:
- Camerino (Ravenna, 1730)
- Affò (Parma, 1777)
- Luigi da Parma, 2nd ed. (Quaracchi, 1900)--1st ed. had appeared in the review Beato Giovanni da Parma, Periodico Bimensile (Parmi, 1888-9
- Ludovico Jacobilli, Vite de' Santi e Beati dell' Umbria, I (Foligno, 1647), 329-34
- Affò in Memorie degli Scrittori c Letterati Parmigiani, I (Parma, 1789), 129-45
- Daunou in Histoire littéraire de la France
Histoire littéraire de la France is an enormous history of French literature initiated in 1733 by Dom Rivest and the Benedictines of St. Maur but it was abandoned in 1763 after the publication of volume XII...
, XX (Paris, 1842), 23-36 (antiquated)
- Féret, La Faculté de Théologie de Paris, Moyen Age, II (Paris, 1895), 94-99
- Picconi, Serie Cronologico-Bioqrafica dei Ministri e Vicari Prov. della Minoritica Provincia di Bologna (Parma, 1908), 43-44
- Heribert Holzapfel, Manuale Historiæ Ordinis Fratrum Minorum (Freiburg im Br., 1909), 25-30; German edition (Freiburg im Br., 1909), 28 33
- René de Nantes, Histoire des Spirituels (Paris, 1909), 145 205.