Peter John Olivi
, in his native French Pierre Jean Olivi
and also Pierre Déjean
, (1248 - March 14, 1298) was a 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....
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...
who, although he died professing the faith of the Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...
, became a controversial figure in the arguments surrounding poverty at the beginning of the fourteenth century. In large part, this was due to his view that the Franciscan vow of poverty also entailed usus pauper
(i.e., 'poor' or 'restricted' use of goods); while contemporary Franciscans generally agreed that usus pauper
was important to the Franciscan way of life, they disagreed that it was part of their vow of poverty. His support of the extreme view of ecclesiastical poverty played a part in the ideology of the groups coming to be known as the Spiritual Franciscans or Fraticelli
The Fraticelli, sometimes confusingly called Fratricelli, were medieval Roman Catholic groups that could trace their origins to the Franciscans, but which came into being as a separate entity. The Fraticelli were declared heretical by the Church in 1296 by Boniface VIII...
A Franciscan and theological author, born at Sérignan
Sérignan is a commune in the Hérault department in Languedoc-Roussillon in southern France....
, Diocese of Béziers, 1248-9. At twelve he entered the Friars Minor at Béziers
Béziers is a town in Languedoc in southern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the Hérault department. Béziers hosts the famous Feria de Béziers, centred around bullfighting, every August. A million visitors are attracted to the five-day event...
, and later took the baccalaureate
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...
at Paris. Returning to his native province, he soon distinguished himself by his strict observance of the rule and his theological knowledge.
When Nicholas III prepared his Bull "Exiit Qui Seminat" (1279), Olivi, then at Rome, was asked to express his opinion with regard to Franciscan poverty (usus pauper
). Unfortunately there was then in the convents of Provence
Provence ; Provençal: Provença in classical norm or Prouvènço in Mistralian norm) is a region of south eastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. It is part of the administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur...
a controversy about the stricter or laxer observance of the rule. Olivi soon became the principal spokesman of the rigorists, and met with strong opposition on the part of the community. At the General Chapter of Strasburg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...
in 1282 he was accused of heresy, and henceforward almost every general chapter concerned itself with him. His doctrine was examined by seven friars, graduates of the Sorbonne University of Paris (see Anal. Franc., III, 374-75), and censured in thirty-four propositions, whereupon his writings were confiscated in 1283.
Olivi cleverly defended himself in several responses (1283–85), and finally the General Chapter of Montpellier (1287) decided in his favour. The new general superior, Matthew of Aquasparta
Matthew of Aquasparta was an Italian Franciscan and scholastic philosopher.-Life:Born in Acquasparta, Umbria, he was a member of the Bentivenghi family, to which belonged his fellow Franciscan, Cardinal Bentivenga de' Bentivenghi, bishop of Albano...
, sent him as lector
Lector is a Latin term for one who reads, whether aloud or not. In modern languages the word has come to take various forms, as either a development or a loan, such as , , and . It has various specialized uses:...
in theology to the convent of Santa Croce in Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....
, whence Matthew's successor, Raymond Gaufredi, sent him as lector to Montpellier. At the General Chapter of Paris in 1292 Olivi again gave explanations, which were apparently satisfactory. He spent his last years in the convent of Narbonne
Narbonne is a commune in southern France in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It lies from Paris in the Aude department, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Once a prosperous port, it is now located about from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea...
and died, surrounded by his friends, after an earnest profession of his Catholic Faith (published by Wadding ad a. 1297, n. 33) on 14 March 1298.
Olivi's work On Sale, Purchase, Usury and Restitution
contains a subtle discussion of the pricing of risks and probabilities in connection with valuing compensation due for compulsory requisitioning of property.
Legacy and controversy
Peace was not obtained by his death. His friends, friars and seculars, showed an exaggerated veneration for their leader, and honoured his tomb as that of a saint; on the other hand the General Chapter of Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....
in 1299 ordered his writings to be collected and burnt as heretical.
The General Council of Vienne
Vienne is the northernmost département of the Poitou-Charentes region of France, named after the river Vienne.- Viennese history :Vienne is one of the original 83 departments, established on March 4, 1790 during the French Revolution. It was created from parts of the former provinces of Poitou,...
in 1312 established, in the Decretal "Fidei catholicæ fundamento" (Bull. Franc., V, 86), the Catholic doctrine against three points of Olivi's teaching, without mentioning the author; these points referred to the moment Christ's body was transfixed by the lance, the manner in which the soul is united to the body and the baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...
In 1318 the friars of his order went so far as to destroy Olivi's tomb, a desecration, and in the next year two further steps were taken against him: his writings were absolutely forbidden by the General Chapter of Marseilles, and a special commission of theologians examined Olivi's "Postilla in Apocalypsim" and marked out sixty sentences, chiefly joachimistical extravagances (see Joachim of Flora. For text see Baluzius-Mansi, "Miscellanea", II, Lucca, 1761, 258-70; cf. also Denifle, "Chartularium Universitatis Parisiensis", II, i, Paris, 1891, 238-9) . It was only in 1326 that those sentences were really condemned by John XXII, when the fact that Emperor Louis IV the Bavarian used Olivi's writings in his famous Appeal of Sachsenhausen in 1324 had again drawn attention to the author.
Father Ehrle considers (Archiv, III, 440) that Olivi was not the impious heretic he is painted in some writings of the Middle Ages, and states (ibid., 448) that the denunciation of his theological doctrine was rather a tactical measure of the adversaries of the severe principles of poverty and reform professed by Olivi. For the rest, Olivi follows in many points the doctrine of St. Bonaventure.
The numerous but for the most part unedited works of Olivi are appropriately divided by Ehrle into three classes:
- Speculative Works, of which the chief is his "Quæstiones" (philosophical and theological), printed partly in an extremely rare edition (Venice, 1509), which contains also his defences against the Paris theologians of 1283-85 which were reprinted by Charles du Plessis d'Argentré
Charles du Plessis d'Argentré was a French Catholic theologian and bishop of Tulle.-life:He entered the seminary of St. Sulpice at Paris, and studied theology at the Sorbonne; he was ordained priest in 1699, and was made Doctor of Theology in 1700...
, Collectio judiciorum, I (Paris, 1724), 226-34; Commentary on the Book of Sentences; "De Sacramentis" etc.
- Exegetical Works: Five small treatises on principles of introduction, printed under St. Bonaventure's name by Bonelli, "Suppl. ad. op. S. Bonaventuræ" (Trent, 1772-3), I, 23-49, 282-347, 348-74; II, 1038–52, 1053-1113. In the same work (I, 52-281) is printed Olivi's "Postilla in Cant. Canticorum". (See S. Bonav. opera., VI, Quaracchi, 1893, Prolegomena, vi-ix.) The other postillœ are: Super Genesim, Job, Psalterium, Proverbia, Ecclesiasten, Lamentationes Jeremiæ, Ezechielem, Prophetas minores, on the Four Gospels, Ep. ad Romanos [see Denifle, "Die Abendl. Schriftausleger bis Luther ... (Romans 1:17) und justificatio" (Mainz, 1905), 156 sq.], ad Corinthios, in epistolas Canonicas, in Apocalypsim;
- Works on observance of the Rule of Saint Francis.
Sources and external links http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11245a.htm