Jacopone da Todi

(1230 - 1306), Franciscan poet


AD 1230
December 25, 1306
Related topics
Stabat Mater dolorosa (Music), Jacopone,--da Todi,--1230-1306, Franciscans, Criticism, interpretation, etc., Italy,


Little is known with historical certainty about the life of of Jacopone da Todi. He was born Jacopone Benedetti to a wealthy family in the town of Todi, Italy. As a young man he entered a career as a notario, combining the skills of an accountant and a lawyer. All of these elements suggest an early life with some amount of worldly success.

A popular story from an early religious biography suggests that his life drastically changed when, at a wedding feast, a balcony collapsed and mortally wounded his young wife. Devastated, Jacopone abandoned his career and gave away all of his possessions. This event is questioned by modern historians, however, as possibly being manufactured for religious drama. We don't know positively what happened to his wife or what may have prompted such a radical conversion in his life.

He did, however, become a wandering penitent and a source of public ridicule. Jacopone eventually joined the Franciscan order. Among the Franciscans, he discovered his gift for poetry. Brother Jacopone became a leader of the Spirituals faction of Franciscans who dedicated themselves to the ideal of radical poverty.

The Franciscan Spirituals got caught up in the ugly politics of papal succession of the time, and Jacopone was imprisoned for five years for his opposition to the election of Pope Boniface VIII. Throughout this time, Jacopone continued to write his ecstatic and mournful poems that touch upon the deepest personal encounters with divine Love.

With his release on Pope Boniface's death, Jacopone retired to a hermitage near Orvieto. He died on Christmas Day in 1306.

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Works published about Jacopone da Todi

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