« Prev St. Peter Damiani Next »

§ 182. St. Peter Damiani.


I. Beati Petri Damiani (S. R. E. cardinalis Episcopi Ostiensis Ordinis S. Benedicti) Opera omnia in quatuor tomos distributa, studio et labora Domni Constantini Cajetani (of Montecassino), first publ. Rom. 1606–’13; in Paris, 1663; in Venice, 1783. Reprinted with Vitae and Prolegomena in Migne’s “Patrol. Lat.,” Tom. CXLIV. and CXLV. (1853). Tom. I. 1060 cols.; Tom. II. 1224 cols.

II. Three biographies of Damiani, one by his pupil, Joannes monachus, who, however, only describes his monastic character. See Migne, I. 47–204. Acta Sanctorum (Bolland.), for February 23, Tom. III. 406–427. Acta Sanctorum Ordinis S. Bened., Saec. VI. Also the Annales Ordinis S. Benedicti, ed. Mabillon, Tom. IV., lib. LVIII.-LXII. (which extend from a.d. 1039–1066, and notice the public acts of Damiani in chronological order).

III. Jac. Laderchi: Vita S. Petri Damiani S. R. E. Cardinalis. Rom. 1702. 3 Tom. Albr. Vogel: Peter Damiani. Jena, 1856. Comp. his art. in Herzog2 III. 466 sqq. F. Neukirch: Das Leben des Peter Dam. Göttingen, 1876. Jos. Kleinermanns (R.C.): Petrus Damiani in s. Leben und Wirken, nach den Quellen dargestellt. Steyl, 1882. Comp. also Ceillier, XIII. 296–324. Neander, III. 382, 397 and passim; Gfrörer Gregor. VII, Bd. I.; Höfler: Die deutschen Paepste; Will: Die Anfänge der Restauration der Kirche im elfte Jahrh.; Giesebrecht: Gesch. der deutschen Kaizerzeit, vol. II.; Hefele: Conciliengesch., vol. IV.


I. Life. Peter Damianus or Damiani (1007–1072),15261526    There are several distinguished persons of that name, (a) Damianus, brother of Cosmas; they were physicians in Sicily who took no fees, and died as “silverless” martyrs of the Diocletian persecution (303), and became the patrons of physicians and druggists throughout the middle ages. The Greeks distinguish three pairs of these brothers. (b) Damianus, patriarch of Alexandria, d. 601, who leaned to Sabellianism and Monophysitism. (c) D., bishop of Pavia, who drew up a confession of faith against the Monothelites, A.D. 679. a friend of Hildebrand and zealous promoter of the moral reform of the clergy, was a native of Ravenna, had a very hard youth, but with the help of his brother Damianus (whose name he adopted),15271527    As Eusebius called himself Pamphili after his friend and patron Pamphilus, he was enabled to study at Ravenna, Faenza and Parma. He acquired honor and fortune as a teacher of the liberal arts in his native city. In his thirtieth year he suddenly left the world and became a hermit at Fonte Avellano near Gubbio (Eugubium) in Umbria, following the example of his countryman, Romuald, whose life he described.15281528    See above, p. 366 sqq. He soon reached the height of ascetic holiness and became abbot and disciplinarian of the hermits and monks of the whole surrounding region. Even miracles were attributed to him.

He systematized and popularized a method of meritorious self-flagellation in connection with the recital of the Psalms; each Psalm was accompanied with a hundred strokes of a leathern thong on the bare back, the whole Psalter with fifteen thousand strokes. This penance became a rage, and many a monk flogged himself to death to the music of the Psalms for his own benefit, or for the release of souls in purgatory. The greatest expert was Dominicus, who wore an iron cuirass around his bare body (hence called Loricatus), and so accelerated the strokes that he absolved without a break twelve Psalters; at last he died of exhaustion(1063).15291529    See Damiani’s account in Vita Dominici Loricati, c. 10, in Migne, I. 1017. Even noble women ardently practiced “hoc purgatorii genus,” as Damiani calls it. He defended this self-imposed penance against the opponents as a voluntary imitation of the passion of Christ and the sufferings of martyrs, but he found it necessary also to check unnatural excesses among his disciples, and ordered that no one should be forced to scourge himself, and that forty Psalms with four thousand strokes at a time should be sufficient as a rule.

The ascetic practice which he encouraged by word and example, had far-reaching consequences; it became a part of the monastic discipline among Dominicans15301530    St. Dominic, the founder of the order of the Dominicans (1170-1221), is said to have scourged himself every night three times, first for himself, then for his contemporaries, and last for the souls in purgatory. and Franciscans, and assumed gigantic proportions in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, especially during the reign of the Black Death (1349), when fraternities of Flagellants or Cross-bearers, moved by a spirit of repentance, preceded by crosses, stripped to the waist, with faces veiled, made pilgrimages through Italy, Germany and England and scourged themselves, while chanting the penitential psalms, twice a day for thirty-three days, in memory of the thirty-three years of our Lord’s life.15311531    Boileau, Historia Flagellantium, Paris, 1700; Förstemann, Die christl. Geisslergesellschaften, Halle, 1828; Cooper, Flagellation and the Flagellants, London, 1870. 3d ed., 1877.

Damiani became the leader of the strict monastic party which centred at Cluny and labored, from the sacerdotal and theocratic point of view, for a reformation of the clergy and the church at a time of their deepest degradation and corruption. He compared the condition of his age to that of Sodom and Gomorrah; he opposed simony and the concubinage of priests, as the two chief sources of evil. He advocated a law which punished simony with deposition, and which prohibited the laity from hearing mass said by married priests. Such a law was enacted by the Lateran Council of 1059. He also condemned in the clergy the practice of bearing arms, although even Pope Leo IX., in 1053, led an army against the pillaging Normans. He firmly maintained that a priest should not draw the sword even in defense of the faith, but contend only with the Word of God and the weapon of the Spirit.

A man of such talent, piety and energy could not remain hidden in the desert. He was drawn to Rome, and against his will chosen bishop of Ostia and Cardinal of the Roman church by Stephen X. in 1058. He narrowly escaped the triple crown in 1061. He was the spiritual counsellor and censor of the Hildebrandian popes (Gregory VI., Clement II., Leo IX., Victor II., Stephen X., Nicolas II., Alexander II.), and of Hildebrand himself. He was employed on important missions at Milan, Florence, Montecassino, Cluny, Mainz, Frankfort. He helped to put down the papal schism of Cadalous.15321532    Or Cadalus, bishop of Parma, very rich and guilty of simony. He had the confidence of the Emperor Henry III. whom he highly praise as a second David, became confessor of the widowed Empress Agnes, and prevented the divorce of her son Henry IV. from his wife Bertha. He resigned his bishopric, but was again called out from his retreat by Hildebrand; hence he called him his holy Satan, and also the lord of the pope.15331533    In two of his best epigrams, he says of Hildebrand (Migne, II. 961, 967):
   “Vivere vis Romae, clara depromito voce:

   Plus Domino papae quam Domno pareo papae.

   *******

   Papam rite colo, sed te prostratus adoro:

   Tu facis hunc Dominum; te facit iste Deum.”
He despised the vanities and dignities of high office. He preferred his monastic cell in the Apennines, where he could conquer his own world within, recite the Psalter, scourge himself, and for a change write satires and epigrams, and make wooden spoons. “What would the bishops of old have done,” he said, “had they to endure the torments which now attend the episcopate? To ride forth constantly accompanied by troops of soldiers with swords and lances, to be girt about with armed men, like a heathen general! Every day royal banquets, every day parade! The table loaded with delicacies for voluptuous guests; while the poor pine away with famine!”

His last work was to heal a schism in the church of his native city. On his return he died of fever at Faenza, Feb. 23, 1072, one year before Hildebrand ascended the papal chair to carry out the reforms for which Damiani had prepared the way with narrow, but honest, earnest and unselfish devotion.

II. The Works of Damiani consist of Epistles, Sermons, Lives of Saints, ascetic tracts, and Poems. They are a mirror of the church of his age.

1. The Epistles are divided into eight books. They are addressed (a) to contemporary Roman Bishops (Gregory VI., Clement II., Leo IX., Victor II., Nicolas II., Alexander II., and the Anti-pope Cadalous or Honorius II.); (b) to the Cardinal Bishops, and to Cardinal Hildebrand in particular; (c) to Patriarchs and to the Archbishops of Ravenna and Cologne; (d) to various Bishops; (e) to Archpresbyters, Archdeacons, Presbyters and other clergy. They give a graphic picture of the corruptions of the church in his times, and are full of zeal for a moral reform. He subscribes himself “Petrus peccator monachus.” The letters to the anti-pope Cadalous show his power of sarcasm; he tells him that his very name from cado, to fall, and laov”, people, was ominous, that he deserved a triple deposition, that his new crime was adultery and simony of the worst sort, that he had sold his own church (Parma) and bought another, that the church was desecrated to the very top by such adulteries. He prophesied his death within one year, but Cadalous outlived it, and Damiani defended his prophecy as applying to moral death.

2. Sermons, seventy-four in number.15341534    Migne, I. 506-924. They are short and treat of church festivals, apostles, the Virgin Mary, martyrs, saints, relics, and enjoin a churchly and ascetic piety.

3. Lives of Saints, of the Benedictine order, namely, Odilo of Cluny, Romuald, Rodulphus, and Dominicus Loricatus (the hero of self-flagellation), whose examples are held up for imitation.15351535    Migne, 925-1024.

4. Dogmatic Discussions, De Fide Catholica; Contra Judaeos; Dialogus inter Judaeum et Christianum; De Divina Omnipotentia; De Processione Spiritus Sancti (against the Greeks), etc.15361536    II. 20 sqq. and 595 sqq.

5. Polemic and ascetic treatises. The most important is the Liber Gomorrhianus (1051), a fearless exposure of clerical immorality which appeared to him as bad as the lewdness of Sodom and Gomorrah (hence the title).15371537    II. 159-190. It is addressed to Pope Leo IX. and calls on him to exercise his authority in removing the scandals. The Liber Gratissimus, addressed to Henry, archbishop of Ravenna, is directed against simony.15381538    II. 99 sqq. He wrote also tracts on the contempt of the world, on monastic perfection, on the life of hermits, on sacerdotal celibacy, against intemperance, against avarice, etc.15391539    II. 191 sqq.

6. On Miracles and Apparitions.15401540    II. 571 sqq.

7. On the Pictures of the chief Apostles, especially Peter and Paul.15411541    II. 590 sqq.

8. Exposition of the Canon of the Mass, and other liturgical topics.15421542    II. 979 sqq.

9. Exegetical Fragments on the Old and New Testaments.15431543    II. 892 sqq. and 985 sqq.

10 Poems, satires, epigrams and Prayers.15441544    II. 918 sqq. His best hymn is on the glory of Paradise, based on poetic prose of St. Augustin: “Ad perennis vitae fontem mens sativit arida.”15451545    II. 862. See above, p. 431 sq.



« Prev St. Peter Damiani Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |