Saturday, April 11, 2009

Angelo Poliziano: "His disconsolate widow"

Kathleen McGowan pointed out this passage in a post to the Magdaleneline Forum. She noted that it "was an excerpt from a 'layman's sermon' that [Angelo] Poliziano delivered on Holy Thursday in 1486, in the presence of his best friend and patron, Lorenzo de Medici, for a religious organization both were members of, known as the Confraternity of the Magi."

She further mentioned that it appears in many sources including Dale Kent's book on Cosimo de Medici. I was unable to track down that source on the internet, but found the Poliziano passage in a work by Douglas Kries, Piety and Humanity, where he cites Weissman below.

I invite you to cry with Him in His bitter pain, . . . to become His disconsolate widow; [Emphasis added.] to see His grieving mother whose heart was pierced with a knife; to cry together with the stones, the sun, with heaven and earth, with all the elements, with the whole world over His incomparable torment. . . . Let us cry tenderly at the death of sweet Jesus. . . . Let us do penance, and with devout contrition let us humiliate ourselves before God.

SOURCE: Ronald Weissman, "Sacred Eloquence: Humanist Preaching and Lay Piety in Renaissance Florence," Christianity and the Renaissance (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1990), p. 261.
Interestingly McGowan points out that no one questions the reference to "His disconsolate widow." Kries (1997: 36) is no exception. He discusses the "provocative" imagery of "His grieving mother whose heart was pierced with a knife," but ends up describing the passage as Poliziano urging his listeners to "engage in flagellation."

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