FONZIO, BARTOLOMEO. See Italy, the Reformation in, § 3. -
FOOLS, FEAST OF (Festum stultorum, fatuorum, Jollorum; F(Ate des foux): A Christian survival of the old Roman Saturnalia. In the early Church participation in all heathen festivals was strongly interdicted, but there is evidence that about the year 200 there were Christians who still longed for the amusements of this season (Tertullian, De idololatria, xliv.). By the fourth century it was
Though the Church had fought the custom all along, it was the clergy by whom it was revived. It was now made a regular religious festival. Each of the clerical groups had long had its special day: the deacons, St. Stephen's day (Dec. 26); the priests, St. John's day (Dec. 27); the boys, Holy Innocents' day (Dec. 28); the subdeacons, New Year's day or Epiphany, Jan. 6. Later the festivals of the subdeacons and the children became especially popular, and the latter developed the unseemly performances of the "Boy-bishop" (q.v.). Similar extravagances and excesses are found in the festivals of the priests, deacons, and subdeacons as early as the twelfth century. The latter, like the boys, elected a bishop, whom they accompanied to the church in festive procession. Here a parody on the mass was held, which was enlivened by jokes and ribald songs, sometimes by bloody brawls.
The first attempt to suppress these extravagances was made in Paris in 1198 by the papal legate, Peter of Capua. In 1210 Innocent III. forbade the festivals of priests, deacons, and subdeacons, and in 1246 Innocent IV. made such observances punishable with excommunication. Nevertheless they continued, and in the fourteenth century there were even rituals for the ceremonies. Often the fool-bishop was required to give the usual banquet "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." At the end of the fourteenth century the clergy appeared in the churches masquerading as animals, women, and mountebanks. Instead of incense, sausage, or pieces of old shoes were burned; instead of the responses, songs of doubtful character were sung; and instead of the holy wafer, sausage was eaten. There were also dancing and games, such as throwing of dice. The processions, in which nude boys amused the rabble with suggestive gestures and speeches, were even worse.
Through an encyclical addressed to all bishops in France by the University of Paris, May 12, 1444, and made effective by an order of Charles VII., Apr. 17, 1445, these sacrilegious practises were finally stopped, at least in France, where they had been most common. The children's festival, though often opposed and forbidden by the Council of Basel (1431), was less objectionable and survived into the sixteenth century. In Cologne the
custom continued till the seventeenth, and in Reims and Mainz till the eighteenth century..
Bibliography: C. Du Cange, Glossarium media, et inflmas latinitatis, s.v. " cervala," ii. 277-278, Berlin, 1883; J. B. Lucotte du Tilliot, MÃ©moires pour serhir h l'histoire de la ate des four, Lausanne, 1741; A. Schmidt, Thesaurus iuris ecrlesiastici, iii. 58-83 Bamberg, 1744; E. Marthne,. De antiquis ecclesim ritibus, chap. xiii., nos. 3-11, 4 vols., 1788; Zeitschrift fÃ¼r Philosophie and katholische Theologie, xi. 2 (1850), 161-180; A. Springer, Paris im 13. Jahrhundert, pp. 66 sqq., Leipsic, 1856: M. E. C. Waleott, Sacred Archa'ology, London, 1868; A. Tille, Die Geschichte der deutschen fireihnacht, ib. 1893, Eng. transl., London, 1899; KL, iv. 1398-1403.
Calvin College. Last modified on 08/11/06. Contact the CCEL.