JACOPONE DA TODI, ya"co-po'nê da to'dî (properly Jacopo de' Benedetti, Lat. Jacobus de Benedictis):


Franciscan poet; b. at Todi (24 m. s. of Perugia), c. 1240; d. at the monastery of Collazone (near Perugia) on Christmas night, 1306. Highly endowed by nature, he won both degrees in law at Bologna, and became respected and prosperous in his profession in his native city. He had a beautiful, noble, and virtuous wife, whose death from the fall of a gallery in a theater in 1268 changed his entire life. He renounced all that had formerly appeared to him great and splendid, gave up his business, divided his property among the poor, and joined the Franciscan tertiaries. To express contempt of the world and self he went to absurd extremes of fanaticism and sought to realize literally the "foolishness" described in I Cor. i. 20-29, so that he received the nickname Jacopone ("silly James"), which he accepted as a badge of honor. In 1278 he sought to enter the Franciscan order, but they would not receive him until he proved the soundness of his mind by a Libellus de mundi contemtu. Becoming a monk did not change his eccentric habits, and those who judged him most mildly pronounced him spiritu ebrius. The conditions of the time drew Jacopone into the storm of political life. His love of truth could not endure the Church's abuses, and many a judgment full of bitter earnestness did he hurl in the days of popes Celestine V. and Boniface VIII. He attacked the latter personally, and, in May, 1297, joined the league of Roman magnates that aimed to bring about the pope's deposition, thereby incurring the ban of the Church. When Boniface VIII. conquered Præneste, in 1298 Jacopone was imprisoned. After the death of Boniface he was liberated, Dec., 1303, and spent his closing years in the monastery of Collazone.


The Stabat Mater.

Jacopone's literary products include sententious maxims of the sort found in the Liber conformitatum compiled by Bartholomew of Pisa, which were gratefully preserved and circulated in the Franciscan order. But a much larger circle of devotees was won by his Italian and Latin lyrics. The Florentine edition by Bonaccorsi (1490) gives 100 Italian poems; the Venetian edition by Tressati (1614) no fewer than 211 satires, odes, penitential


hymns, and spiritual love-songs. He sinks himself as a mystic into Christian metaphysics, and celebrates the exalted flight of the soul to God and its nuptials with the divine love; he relates the conflict between the penitent spirit and the body still rebelliously striving under the rod. In other poems he scourges with holy zeal the wrongs of the time--popular customs, luxury of the women, worldliness of the nuns, the papal Antichrist. Finally he brings before the people the life of Jesus, to teach them holy living after the rule of Christ, and celebrates poverty most highly.

The question of authenticity is much more difficult in case of the Latin hymns which bear Jacopone's name, and they have been ascribed to various authors. Apart from Cur murtdus militat (cf. H. A. Daniel, Thesaurus hymnologicus, ii., Leipsic, 1844, 379; S. W. Duffield, Latin Hymn-Writers, New York, 1889, 279-280) the most important is the renowned sequence Stabat mater dolorosa, beside which the manuscripts contain also the parody Stabat mater speciosa juxta foenum gaudiosa, dum jacebat parvulus. The hymn undoubtedly originated in the Franciscan order, but who the actual author was is open to many hypotheses. Gregory the Great, Bernard of Clairvaux, Innocent Ill., and others have been suggested. The hymn is anonymous in manuscripts of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and it is tradition of the Franciscan order which names Jacopone as its author. It was sung by the Flagellants who traversed Italy in 1398 (see FLAGELLATION, FLAGELLANTS) and, according to the Summa historialis of Antoninus Florentinus (d. 1450), sang "hymns in Latin and the vernacular, and especially that Stabat mater dolorosa which they say Gregory gave forth." The sequence was used in the Church as early as the fourteenth century, and eighty-three German translations alone are known. Of musical settings for this celebrated hymn, the compositions of Palestrina and Pergolese, Astorga, and Haydn are well known. The Protestant judgment of the hymn must be, doctrinally, that it divides reverence between mother and son in a manner never to be endured by a Protestant temperament; but, regarded esthetically, it may be pronounced a pearl among medieval hymns.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Bartholomew of Pisa, Liber conformitatum p. 60b, Milan, 1510; L. Wadding, Annales Minorum, v. 407 sqq., vi. 77 sqq., Rome, 1733; F. A. March, Latin Hymns, pp. 171-177, 300-303, New York, 1874 (gives text of Stabat mater, notes on it, and notes on Jacopone); H. Thode, Franz von Assisi und die Anfänge der Renaissance in Italien, pp. 408 sqq., Berlin, 1885; S. W. Duffield, Latin Hymn-Writers and their Hymns, chap. xxv., ib. 1889; KL, vi. 1196-98. On the Stabat mater the three best works are: F. G. Lisco, Stabat mater, Berlin, 1853; C. H. Bitter, Studie zum Stabat mater, Leipaic, 1883; J. Kayser, Beiträge zur Geschichte und Erklärung der ältesten Kirchenhymnen, ii. 100-192, Paderborn, 1888; A. Tenneroni, in Nuova Antologia, June 16, 1907; G. Galli, Disciplinanti dell' Umbria del 1260 e le loro Landi, Turin, 1907. Available in English are R. C. Trench, Sacred Latin Poetry, pp. 262-263, London, 1864; Seven Great Hymns, pp. 96-109, New York, 1868 (text, transl., and notes); D. T. Morgan, Hymns of the Latin Church, pp. 5-8, 184-186, London, 1871; W. A. Merrill, Latin Hymns, pp. 65-66, Boston, 1904 (text and notes); Julian, Hymnology, pp. 1081-84 (admirable summary of data, details of principal texts and Eng. transls.).


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