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Savonarola, Girolamo

(Hieronymus; 1452–98). Dominican monk, reformer; b. Ferrara, It.; studied Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, and the Bible; eloquent, passionate, and bold preacher of repentance at Florence; rebuked the sins of the people and of the rulers, including the pope, and insisted on clean living. Held that men are not saved by their own good works or by indulgences, but by the grace of God, through Christ, and that really good works are found only where the heart has been regenerated by faith. Held that he was a divinely inspired prophet and believed himself chosen to reform not only the ch. but also the state. Many of his predictions proved true. Became the idol of Florence and vicinity; people began to put into practice his moral, religious, and pol. ideals of a democratic theocracy. But pol. rancor developed against him; popular favor began to waver when some of his predictions failed; and fires of repressed youthful passion began to break out. He was excommunicated 1497; Florence was threatened with interdict.* Savonarola appealed to Eur. rulers for a council to depose the pope. In Florence an ordeal by fire was arranged; when circumstances combined to cancel it, a mob took Savonarola prisoner. Records of his trial are confused, but he was condemned to be hanged and burned. Writings include an exposition of Ps 51 and the first part of Ps 31, issued by M. Luther with a preface by the latter (cf. WA 12, 245–248); other works include Trionfo della croce.

W. H. Crawford, Girolamo Savonarola (Cincinnati, Ohio, 1907); P. Misciattelli, Savonarola, tr. M. Peters-Roberts (New York, 1930); A. G. Rudelbach, Hieronymus Savonarola und seine Zeit (Hamburg. 1835). J. Schnitzer, Savonarola, 2 vols. (Munich. 1924).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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